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What does PCB panelization mean?

What-does-PCB-panelization-mean

Are you considering producing printed circuit boards (PCBs) for your projects, but not sure where to start? Panelization is a vital part of the process you should be aware of.

In this article, we will talk about PCB panelization, what it is, why it’s important, and how to go about doing it.

What is PCB panelization?

Panelizing combines multiple PCBs into one larger panel or frame with many small boards mounted together. This often requires additional routing connections between each individual component as well as dedicated test points.

Panelization helps manufacturers reduce production costs while achieving higher yields and allowing faster turnaround times as well as simplifying the assembly process. It also helps to improve quality control, since all boards on a panel are exposed to the same production process.

What-is-PCB-panelization

What are the types of PCB panelization?

The three most common types of panelization are tab routing, score and break, and V-groove. Each type offers a slightly different approach to PCB joining, and all have their benefits and downsides depending on how they are applied.

Tab routing

Tab routing is the most common type of panelization and involves routing a tab between each board to join them together. This method is ideal for high-volume production runs, as it requires minimal setup time and provides a strong connection between boards.

Score and break

Much like tab routing, this form of panelization utilizes scored boards that are broken apart after the assembly process is completed. Since this method is beneficial for small production orders, it makes the boards easier to separate post-assembly.

V-groove

V-groove panelization involves routing a V-shaped groove along the edges of each board to join them together. This method provides a stronger connection than tab routing and is ideal for high-volume production runs.

Why is PCB panelization so important?

Why-is-PCB-panelization-so-important

PCB panelization is a great way to secure uniformity during the PCB production process. This is especially important for smaller boards, as they may not meet the demands of their intended function without uniformity. With PCBs becoming increasingly smaller, it is necessary to change the production processes in order to ensure quality. By attaching smaller boards together in a larger array, PCB panelization can help address these issues while also fitting into standard production processes for smaller PCBs.

Not only does PCB panelization help with uniformity and quality control, but it also improves efficiency when fabricating your PCBs. Mass production becomes much easier with this method, as all of the individual components are already attached together in one large array, hence reducing material costs. This allows for faster assembly times and fewer errors due to misalignment or incorrect placement of components. Additionally, because all of the components are already connected together, there is less time spent on soldering and other manual labor tasks associated with traditional PCB fabrication methods.

How to make a PCB panel?

There are two primary ways of making a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) panel. The first technique used is the subtractive method, which involves cutting away extra material from a copper-clad board to form pathways and tracks. The second method is known as additive manufacturing, where pattern layers on an empty board can then be connected using plated throughs. This method is preferred when working with complex board designs, as it allows elements to be individually customized before they are soldered together.


The following steps should be taken to create a PCB panel:

1.Design a circuit board layout by utilizing PCB software. Usually, this includes placing various components and sketching the paths of connection between them.

2.Print out the circuit layout onto the transfer paper using a laser printer.

3.Position the PCB material onto a flat surface and put the transfer paper on top of it, with the printed side facing down.

4.Use a roller or other tool to apply pressure to the transfer paper, which will transfer the circuit layout onto the PCB material.

5.Apply the masking material to the areas of the PCB that you do not want to etch away.

6.Place the PCB material into a container filled with the etching solution and agitate it gently to remove the unwanted copper.

7.Once the etching process is complete, remove the PCB from the etching solution and carefully remove the masking material.

8.Use the soldering iron to create the electrical connections between the various components on the PCB.

Test your PCB panel to make sure it is functioning properly. If there are any issues, you may need to troubleshoot and make any necessary repairs.

How to design a PCB panel?

Designing a PCB panel involves several steps, including:
How-to-design-a-PCB-panel1.Determine the goal and necessities of the panel: Prior to beginning the design process, it is essential to outline the purpose of the panel and what demands must be met. This includes identifying the types of components that will be used, the number of layers needed, and the size and shape of the panel.

2.Creating a PCB schematic diagram: This involves showing the links between each of the parts on a PCB. This method helps you visualize the connections between varied parts of the circuitry and check the design for accuracy.

3.Lay out the PCB: After the schematic is finished, the process of laying out the PCB begins. It entails positioning the parts on the board and forming connections between them. To aid with this process, there is a range of software programs available, including Altium Designer and Eagle.

4.Create the Gerber files: Gerber files are a type of file used to describe the layout of a PCB. PCB design documents are used to relay the design to the manufacturer so they can make the actual printed circuit board.

5.After the design is ready, the PCB panel can be ordered from a manufacturer. There are many online companies that offer PCB manufacturing services, such as IBE.

6.Assemble the panel: After the PCB panel has been manufactured, it will need to be assembled. This requires soldering the parts onto the board and testing it to make sure it works properly.

How big is a PCB panel?

The size of a PCB panel is determined by the size and number of PCBs that it contains. Generally, PCB panels can range in size from 6 inches to 24 inches, depending on how many single PCBs must fit together in the same panel and their size. A typical standard-sized PCB panel would usually be around 18in by 24in (457mm x 610mm).

Terminology in PCB panelization process

The main terminologies involved in the PCB panelization process, include PCB array, PCB tab routing, panel plating in PCB, and PCB depanelization.
Terminology-in-PCB-panelization-process

PCB array

A printed circuit board (PCB) array is a circuit board with multiple components that are linked together in an array-like formation. It is typically used for high-density applications such as telecommunications, storage systems, and various electronic gadgets.

PCB tab routing

PCB tab routing is a process of routing circuits on a printed circuit board (PCB). It involves connecting surface mount components and/or through-hole components together via traces or pathways, often by using automated routers or software.

Panel plating in PCB

Panel plating is a process used in the etching and printing of printed circuit boards (PCB) to build and repair traces. It involves dipping complete PCBs or individual PCB panels into an electrically conductive solution to create electrical connections, thus allowing electrical signals and power to travel through the component.

PCB depanelization

PCB depanelization is the process of cutting or routing printed circuit boards from a panel of similar circuit board setups. The aim of depanelization is to produce individualized PCBs that can be used in the manufacturing and assembly process.

Conclusion

PCB panelization is an important aspect of the PCB manufacturing process. It allows multiple individual PCBs to be processed as one unit, which can lead to cost savings and improved line efficiency. With advances in software and automated equipment, the accuracy of panelization can now be controlled much more closely than ever before. Ultimately, panelization should be used as a tool to streamline the PCB manufacturing process while ensuring that all individual PCBs meet quality standards.

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