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What is PCB printing in PCB or PCBA industry

What is PCB printing in PCBPCBA industry

With the continuous development of the electronics industry, PCB and PCBA have become a trend, and of which PCB printing as an essential part of it, has also attracted attention and research. PCB printing, also known as circuit board printing, is a very developed new industry today, and the rapid development of screen printing has energized this industry and brought significant changes to the electronics industry. The current screen printing process is fully capable of adapting to the high density of PCB production.

What-does-PCB-stand-for

What does PCB stand for?

PCB stands for Printed Circuit Board. It’s an acronym used by many people in the electronics industry. When you say PCB it means the actual physical board where electronic components are placed. It’s the backbone fabric that connects every electronic component in a circuit design.

What is PCB design used for?

PCB design is a process used to create everyday electronics as well as some specialty electronic products in the telecoms, military, medical, and the aerospace field. An engineer or a PCB designer does the PCB design. He or she undergoes rigorous training to be able to come out with reliable, and error free PCB design. Once a PCB design is finished, it goes into manufacturing to create an actual PCB.

What is PCB design process?

 PCB design processThe PCB design process involves several steps to make the actual PCB come to life. The first stage is the schematic PCB design. As with any electronic circuit, this is the blueprint of its electronic function. Once the schematic is finished, you can continue creating the library for your components. The library contains all the detailed footprints of these components. Without it, you’ll have difficulties placing any part on the actual board itself. After creating the library, you can continue creating the PCB artwork or tracks using a PCB editor.

The PCB editor usually comes in a standard package with an EDA/CAD tool. The EDA/CAD tool usually integrates both schematic and library editor as well. After designing and editing your PCB tracks, the last step would be to create the manufacturing output plots. These plots, usually in Gerber format, are the ones being sent to your PCB fabricator to manufacture your boards.

What is PCB printing?

PCB printing is the newest trend in the PCB production process. It is using a method called additive manufacturing. Additive manufacturing is the opposite of what are being done in most PCB manufacturing plants today. Instead of etching and removing conductive layers (such as done on copper clad boards) the additive manufacturing process adds in the conductive layers through printing. With this technology, PCB printing , even all PCB manufacturing can even be done at home.

Can you print PCBs?Can you print it at home?

DIY PCB printingYes you can. PCB printing at home is the newest trend now, only that, it requires you to buy a machine that’s quite expensive. PCB printers are already available from several companies and you can buy them by placing an order. There is a learning curve though, as this is fairly new tech. You’ll have to go through the manuals and tutorials to be able to successfully make error free PCB designs through PCB printing.

The following is a simple process for manufacturing PCBs, which also includes a very simple PCB printing method that can be done at home.
1.Print out your PCB layout on a laser printer and A4 photo paper/glossy paper.
2.Cut the Copper Plate for the Circuit Board according to the size of the layout, and rub it.
3.Print the PCB onto the copper board and press to fix it with iron.
4.Then prepare 100 ml hydrogen peroxide, 30g citric acid and 5g table salt, put them into a bowl and mix well.
5.After transfer the PCB Print onto the Copper Plate, you need to etch the plate very careful.
6.Drill holes using a mini grinder or something.
7.Apply the solder paste evenly and solder components to the board.

How does a PCB printer work?

For PCB printing, a PCB printer works by printing conductive ink on a given substrate. Currently, for home printers, there are two methods that are being offered. One is through an ink dispensing approach and the other through an inkjet approach.

The ink dispensing approach uses conductive ink (usually with silver element) and it writes down your design using a desktop printer similar to a 3D printer. Once the ink dries you can continue to place solder paste on the printed pads to continue with PCB assembly.

The inkjet approach uses a technology similar to inkjet printers. Inkjet printers prepare their inks and then spray them as tiny droplets on a surface. What’s good about this technology is that it does not only print the conductive ink required by your traces, it can also print out insulating materials that you can use as middle layers on a PCB. Hence, with an inkjet approach, you can create multilayer PCBs. This is unheard of before and poses a bigger advantage compared to the ink dispensing PCB printing approach.

Once ink has been dispensed and dried on both approaches, the PCB assembly process can proceed. Solder paste dispensing is commenced. Note that with PCB printing; a special kind of solder is used called Tin-Bismuth-Silver. This solder material has a lower melting point so that it will not destroy the conductive ink. After this, parts placement proceeds. Some desktop printers are not capable of automatic parts placement, so you’ll have to place the components yourselves.

After both your artwork and component placement finishes, the reflow process can start. These desktop PCB printers are equipped to do such a process. They have built-in heaters and timers. They have reflow profiles that match the properties of the conductive ink they use.

Once finished, you can begin debugging your boards. All work is done at the comfort of your homes. With this, PCB printing may become the next manufacturing standard as they can do so many things in one machine.

What factors affect PCB printing?

What-factors-affect-PCB-printingBecause PCB printing is a relatively new tech, it hasn’t been perfected yet. There are several factors that can affect your final output. One is the conductive property of the conductive ink used. Unlike copper, conductive inks have lower conductivity. Fortunately, their conductivity level does not affect circuit operation that much.

Another aspect is with regards to the heat dissipation profile of printed PCB. Copper PCBs have better characteristics in this area due to time tested technologies applied on them. Fortunately, printed PCBs can overcome such hurdles by having different kinds of substrates available for them to use. Currently, some are in the experimental stage. However, many have already been tried and tested and have become successful in their use.

Storing the conductive ink is another area that PCB printing must try to hurdle. Currently, refrigeration is the only way to extend its life. The lifespan of conductive inks can be from 6 to 12 months only. If you do not refrigerate them, it’s sure that they will dry up quickly and become unusable.

What is the role of the PCB printing in thePCB/PCBA production process

PCB printing in the production process is about the Gerber files being physically laid out on your boards. Unlike in the traditional process where copper is etched on copper clad boards (which is a subtractive manufacturing process), additive manufacturing is what’s being used in PCB printing. Another thing to note is that PCB printers can also do solder paste dispensing and component assembly with their machines. This makes them an all-in-one PCB/PCBA manufacturing device as they don’t need to separate the processes to accomplish such things.

Conclusion

With the development trend of high density of circuit board, the production requirements of circuit board are getting higher and higher, and more and more new technologies are applied to the production of circuit board, such as laser technology, photopolymer and so on. The above is only some superficial introduction about PCB printing, there are many technologies in the production of circuit boards, such as blind buried holes, winding board, Teflon board, photolithography and so on. After that I will continue to update, hope to help you. In addition, if you have PCBA assembly needs, please visit our website or contact us directly.

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