- 1-32 Layer PCB prototypes from Rigid, Flex to Rigid Flex board
- PCB prototyping board order start from 1 pcs, no minimum order requirement
- 7/24 Live sales &tech support
- 24 hours fast PCB(circuit board) prototype expedite services
Venture PCB prototype services
Prototypes are created to minimize errors in the earliest stages of developing and manufacturing products. Likewise, printed circuit board (PCB) prototypes help identify and reduce the likelihood of errors in the final PCB manufacturing process.
Most companies prefer PCB prototypes, which have similar features and functionality to the final production model. This allows one to eliminate the potential losses that can be caused by manufacturing defective PCBs in high volume.
Prototype pcb is a safe and cost-effective solution that helps build final boards with no or very few errors. If you are looking for quality and trustworthy prototype manufacturing, then Venture Electronics is the right choice for you.
Difference between proptotype pcb and breadboard
Breadboards consist of a grid of spring clips that allow electrical connections.
Breadboards are provisional and can be repeated use for other designs, making them a convenient tool in prototype. They can be used to test the functionality of a particular design before assemble pcb.
Breadboards have limitations. They are only suitable for through-hole components, whereas printed circuit boards typically use surface-mount components.
Athough breadboards can be used for specific circuits, the lack of surface mount components will cause problems when using breadboards as meaningful prototypes. Under most circumstance modern circuits should consist of prototype PCBs, rather than settling for breadboard prototypes.
Why choose Venture Electronics as your prototype partner?
Prototype PCB quickturn leadtime can be less as 24 hours
Most favorable price in the whole industry
Start your PCB quantity order from 1pcs
On-time delivery by official DHL & UPS & FedEx
Professional technical team provide one-to-one service
Professional QC team, 100% Guaranteed quality
Flexiable payment terms from prepaid to net 30days
process can be viewed clearly by ERP system
The main factors to calculate a pcb prototype price:
To calculate prototype pcb size, we need below basic info:
◎Board size: the larger dimmension, the much expensive.
◎Materials: Some substrate and laminate PCB materials cost more than others. If high performance is essential, then your materials may be more expensive.
◎Complexity: Having a large number of components, complex wiring, or a very dense board can increase the overall cost.
◎Copper thickness: the heavier copper thickness, the much expensive price
◎Surface: usually HASL is the cheapeat, then silver, Tin, OSP, ENIG, ENEPIG is expensive
What is the Difference between Standard PCB and PCB Prototype?
Why suggest the PCB before choosing design Prototype PCB?
And what circumstances is PCB prototyping suggestion?
What are the advantages of PCB prototyping? You will find the answer belows.
The number of Prototypes PCB designs is far less than standard design products. Basically less than 10 or between 100 and 500.
2. Production Cycle
Unless the delivery time of a single component is longer, the production cycle of the PCB prototype design will within 10 days.
3. Unit Cost and Total Cost
The total cost is much lower.PCB prototype design has many advantages beyond standard design.
Why PrototypePCB Pre-designing is Important?
Conduct PCB prototype design before PCB design to make sure that standard design can proceed smoothly.
Therefore, we offen suggest customers do PCB prototype design first. The main reasons are as follows.
1. Fast Cycle. The standard design cycle is taking 20-25 days, and the Prototype PCB design cycle is within 10 days. This mean that you can have a testing quickly and have enough time to make any changes and update.
2. Quick Test. Each product have multiple revisions and updating before it is released.In order to meet the design cycle in time, new designs need to be quickly testing.If there is no prototype design at first, it will take more time to find the issues of defects and insuffcient.
3. Easy to Update. Prototype PCB design can find issues in the design in time and quickly adjust the problem areas.Due to the quantity is small, it is easy to replace the PCB board
What Are the Benefts of PCB Prototype?
1. New Products
The PCB prototype design and production of new product must be take out before the PCB standard design.
2. Quality and Design Testing
How to check product quality ? Prototype design could be solve such problems.
3. Complex Components
If it’s a complex project and have many components, you need to take a Prototype PCB design first.
4. Demand Model
If you only need to display the model, you must be take PCB prototype design.If you need some exhibits when participating in the exhibition, these products have not been mass-
produced yet, so please make the PCB prototype design first.
Venture PCB Prototype
Venture is the perfect place for your PCB (circuit board) prototype requirement, especially for your multilayer PCB (circuit board) prototype project. We are trusted by experienced electronic engineers all around the world through our100% quality guaranteed policy.
Venture PCB Prototype Fly Probe Test
Venture has the full technical knowledge and PCB manufacturing experience in PCB fabrication (also called printed circuit board manufacturing or printed circuit board fabrication). From single layer board to 32 layer board, from flex PCB to rigid-flex PCB.
Our Shenzhen PCB prototype factory is set up for meeting your custom prototype PCB fabrication (proto PCB fabrication)requirements.
For Venture normal productions, we use a bed of nails fixture test to test orders bigger than 3 sqm，and orders less than 3 sqm we use flying probe test.
- Our Factory
- Send Us Inquiry
PCB prototype capabilities
PCB Prototype Features
|Quality Grade||Standard IPC 1-3|
|Number of Layers||1 – 32layers|
|Order Quantity||1pcs +|
|Build Time||2 – 15 days|
|Material||Rigid: FR2, CEM-1, CEM-3, FR4 (standard – halogen-free – high performance) including ShengYi, Iteq, Elite Materials Corp., NanYa, Kingboard, Grace, TUC, Meteorwave|
|Flex: PI, PET Including Taiflex, Dupont FR & AP, Panasonic, ShengYi, Doosan. Hanwha, SF305|
|Metal Core: Metal Core Aluminum based material Including Bergquist MP, HT & CML, ITEQ T-Lam, Laird TLAM SS Taiflex, Dupont FR & AP, Panasonic, ShengYi, Doosan. Arlon,Ventec and suggested local material brand( for detail pls contact our sales)|
|Board Size||Maximum 610mm*1200mm (24” * 47″”)|
|Board Thickness||Rigid PCB : 0.15mm – 10 mm|
|FLEX PCB: 0.05mm – 0.16mm|
|Board Thickness tolerance|
|Copper Weight||1.0oz – 15.0oz|
|Inner Layer Copper Weight||0.5oz – 12.0oz|
|Min Trace/Space( track/gap or width/space)||2mil/2mil (0.05mm/0.05mm)|
|Solder Mask Color||Green, White, Blue, Black, Red, Yellow or others|
|Silkscreen Color||White, Black or others|
|Surface Finish||ENIG / GF / OSP / I Ag / HASL (lead) / HASL (Leadfree) / Plating Au/Ni/ Immersion Sn / GF+OSP / GF+HASL / OSP+ENIG /IAG+GF/Isn+GF|
|Min Annular Ring||5mil|
|Min Drilling Hole Diameter||mechanical: 0.1mm|
|laser : 0.05mm|
|NPTH Hole Size Tolerance||±0.025mm|
|PTH Hole Size Tolerance||±.003″ (±0.08mm) – ±.006″ (±0.15mm)|
|Surface/Hole Plating Thickness||20μm – 30μm|
|SM Tolerance (LPI)||.003″ (0.075mm)|
|Aspect Ratio||20:1 (board thickness: hole size)|
|Test||10V – 250V, flying probe or testing fixture|
Your Leading PCB Prototype Supplier in China
We have a full range of complete PCB fabrication raw materials in stock to meet your PCB prototype application, such as KB, Shengyi, Iteq, Nanya, and we also kept stock for special raw materials such as Rogers, Isola, Arlon, Taconic, Ventec, Dupont,Tellon,Panasoic, Berquist., etc.
We can produce PCB prototype base on our stock material so you don’t have to wait long lead time on materials. Our PCB prototype fabrication products including:
- Rigid PCB prototype fabrication,
- flex PCB prototype fabrication,
- Rigid flex PCB prototype fabrication,
- mcpcb prototype fabrication (metal core PCB prototype fabrication)
- High Frequency PCB prototype fabrication
- RF (Radio frequency) PCB prototype fabrication
- Microwave PCB prototype fabrication
- High TG PCB prototype fabrication
- Thick Copper ( Heavy Copper) PCB prototype fabrication
- HDI PCB prototype fabrication
- LED PCB prototype fabrication
- Aluminum PCB prototype fabrication
- Gold fingers PCB prototype fabrication
- Embedded resistor PCB prototype fabrication
- Controlled Impedance PCB prototype fabrication
Our fastest prototype PCB fabrication from 1 layer to 8 layers is 24 hours, fastest 2 layers to 6 layer volume production (within 100㎡) are 72 hours. Our standard PCB fabrication processes are all in the house without the outsourcing process, therefore we can guarantee our regular PCB fabrication orders delivered on time.
Our regular PCB prototype fabrication orders on-time delivery rate ＞90%，expedite PCB prototype fabrication orders on time delivery date ＞99%, because of this, we can offer you an extremely competitive PCB prototype fabrication price with reliable quality.
In order to offer our customer complete PCB fabrication solutions with best price and service, we also work with China top technology PCB fabrication manufacturer such as Suntak, KB, SCC on complicated PCBs which are beyond our manufacturing capability.
Through our 2 hours rapid response services from our 24/7 sales and tech support team, and excellent after-sales service, we will be your best Pcb fabrication manufacture & supplier in China. At Venture we can answer any Pcb fabrication questions that you may have, pls feel free to contact us anytime.
PCB Prototype: The Ultimate Guide
Do you ever wonder how the printed circuit board in modern electronic devices come to be? I mean there has to be a way by which manufacturers make the printed circuit boards for us to use. If you have interests in knowing the whole process than continue reading and find out more about the whole process.
What is PCB Prototyping?
PCB prototyping is the process by which engineers design printed circuit board by generating a prototype board before full manufacturing. Many prototypes runs are often part of developing the final piece of the printed circuit board for the right reasons. The developments of the prototypes may be for limited purposes for testing the concept of particular functions before finishing everything. Different build-outs which have improving complexities always ensures better quality of the printed circuit boards and better results. The production of different build-outs is advantageous in making the complex printed circuit boards.
Flex PCB Fabrication
Manufacturers do this because making the complex printed circuit board from scratch whenever it fails is very expensive. PCB prototyping accelerates the speed of manufacturing multilayer boards or printed circuit boards with high density. Some PCB fabricators build prototype boards as a specialty service that they offer to their customers. Carefully cycling the prototype boards and fine tuning the designs to validate reliability and functionality can speed final PCB development. Reworking on the process from the beginning is very expensive when manufacturers detect failure towards the end of the process. It is the reason why circuit designers and electronic engineers need to use software for prototype designs.
Benefits of PCB Prototyping
PCB prototyping is a requirement by the manufacturers coming up with printed circuit boards for the consumer market. The process has many advantages to the producers of PCB’s and the consequently the consumers safety. Continue reading and find out more about the advantages of the whole process of PCB prototyping.
· PCB Prototyping Saves Manufacturers Money
Printed Circuit Board prototyping is a process that will save the manufacturer a lot of money. It is because the process makes sure that every step succeeds and if not they try and do it again. The manufacturers try to eliminate any problems early enough to avoid occurrence of problems later on in the process.
· Saves Manufacturers from the Hectic Redesigning Processes in Mass Production
The PCB prototypes will save the manufacturer enough time that could be lost in redesigning. It means that designing the whole process again from scratch is time consuming but having a prototype saves time. It is an important factor that will help in the inspection of any faults that may occur in the design of the PCB. The designers can easily detect the technical and human faults and do the adjustments as a requirement of the design. This process helps in identifying these faults early enough before releasing the product to the market for consumers.
· PCB Prototyping Allows for Early Quality Control Process
The process also helps in the inspection of the product characteristics as the value of the product may differ. It is true that the value of the products can differ from the value of the theoretical design on paper. Such are the values that designers check and update using the different prototype designs. The process also helps in testing the endurance of the product especially if it is for a large number of consumers. Whenever the product enters any market, it has to pass through certain tests to ensure its endurance. The tests that it has go through to make sure it is perfect are:
- Temperature variation tests
- Power variation tests
- Resistivity of the product to shock
The process of PCB prototyping will help you identify the issues in the product. Whenever a designer or manufacturer intends to produce printed circuit boards in bulk, he will have to go through PCB prototyping. If the product will be in the hands of any consumers then it has to be of the right standards and safe for use. Once a PCB design prototype is in the hands of the producer then you cannot reverse the mass production process.
·PCB Prototype makes Subsequent Production Process Easier and Simple
It also makes the process of production to be easier as every aspect is already in place. It includes the aspects of size that will be useful in product packaging among other factors. All the factors can only go through confirmation in the presence of a PCB prototype. The process of PCB prototyping will also enable the consumer to have his/her own unique printed circuit board. It is a recommendation for every consumer who intends to have mass production of the product for personal use.
PCB Prototype Specification Details
Whenever you intend to have a prototype of the printed circuit board, you should get an assembler to work your design. The prototype board will ensure that you have the right product in your hand before you begin mass production of the product. The sooner the prototype is in your hands, the faster you can run the tests and then production. There are, however, certain specifications that you must have a look at before giving out the design for production. The specifications are for the PCB prototype which you will give to the designer to ensure quality productions. The specifications that you need to include in producing the PCB prototype are:
i.Quality grade of the prototype
This is usually Standard IPC 1 for most prototypes. The quality may vary according to the requirements of the customer. The quality must comply to the set standards of the quality control boards in different countries and the ISO standards.
ii.Number of layers
Number of layers of the prototype that you will need ranging from 1 layer to 8 layers. Printed Circuit Board prototypes have different layers depending on the final product. The minimum number of layers you can have on a prototype is one and the maximum is eight.
Multi layer PCB
i. Number of PCB prototypes
Quantity of the order depending on the number of prototypes you will need. The quantity will also depend on the type of work you intend to do and capability of manufacturer. Different manufacturers have different capabilities ranging depending on the machines available.
ii.Type of material
Material requirements are important as you can use different materials for making different prototypes. The customer will determine the material that he/she wants for the prototype. The material has to be standard and withstand all the pressures the prototypes will go through such as high temperatures. The most common materials that manufacturers use is the FR-4 (glass epoxy) board, Aluminum board, and the Flexible board. The FR is an initial for flame retardant and the number four explains its flammability and prevents it from cracking.
iii.Size of the PCB board
Size of the board is an important factor to that you have to specify for the designer to include. It will help in doing the spacing of the wires running through the prototype. He might also decide to include more components on the board depending on the size. The size of the prototype ranges from a minimum of 6*6 millimeters to a maximum of 500*500 millimeters. The size will be dependent on the size of the intended machine such as the PCB for TVs and Computers.
The size of the prototype will also determine the tolerance of the size of the prototype. Tolerance of the size of the board which ranges from +0.1millimetres to + 0.3millimetres.
i. Copper specification
Copper specifications which include the weight of the copper on the outer layer and weight in the inner layer. The weight of the copper ranges from 1.0 ounces to 2.0 Ounces which varies from that of the inner layer. The weight of the inner layer ranges from 0.5 ounces to 1.0 ounces. Tolerance of copper thickness is another factor that you will have to consider ranging from 0 micrometers to 20 micrometers.
ii.Plating and finishing technique
Plating finish is a technique where copper surfaces plates with another metallic material for better solderability of pads. Leaded or lead-free hot air solder leveling is the most common technique as the manufacturer applies solder on the board. You might also use electroless nickel immersion gold plating technique which is more expensive but offers more resistance to oxidation. Electroless Nickel Immersion Gold is thus a better choice for bigger BGA components and visible contact pads and test points.
Different PCB Finish
In case the PC has a radio, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, among other things you have to specify the impedance control. It means that the set of specific traces especially the RF net presents a particular resistance to the signals going through.
Impedance control PCB
The factors that affect impendence are the dielectric of pre-preg material, trace width and solder mask. Impedance that has gone through careful control maximizes the performance wireless control. As an example, the performance of the Wi-Fi is und control of the 50-ohm impedance. It requires use of expensive material and not every manufacturer can guarantee sufficient impedance.
i.PCB prototype solder mask
Solder masks must be a specification for making the PCB prototype as it helps in protecting the solder bridges. You will have to protect the solder bridges from short circuiting and manufacturers will allow you to choose the color. The tips on making a good selection of the solder mask are:
- Look at the solder mask that manufacturers use regularly especially the green solder mask
- White solder masks are unique but not easy to keep on pristine
It is the size of the printed circuit board prototype as the cost increases with increase in surface area. You should specify and use the space you require and minimize on the cost of production. The shape of the PCB prototype also matters as irregular shapes will lead to a lot of waste.
Thickness of the board will vary according to the specification you give to the designer. The thickness ranges from 0.4 millimeters to 2.0 millimeters and can affect the tolerance of the device. Tolerance of the thickness of the prototype board ranges from +0.1 millimeters to +10% of the board thickness.
iv.PCB minimum spacing
Minimum Spacing or tracing between the circuits is an important factor that you have to specify. It will depend on the size of the board, the thickness and weight of the copper. It is the measure of minimum width of copper traces on the PCB and distance between individual traces.
Most manufacturers prefer using 6 millimeters of space while others handle 3 to 4 millimeters of space. It is the factor that will determine routing of 64 0r 128 pins of the microcontroller. Pick the spacing that will align to the minimum spacing by the manufacturer to avoid complications. s
i.Hole size and vias type
Hole sizes is an important factor as you will be able to determine how big are the vias and the holes. It will help in saving space but makes it difficult for the manufacturer make smaller holes. It will mean a tighter tolerance of the drilling process of which he may land outside the pad
ii.Surface finish/special finishing
Silk screens help in annotating and documenting the PC after application on the board, graphics and texts. You may also identify it as legend printing but silk screening is very common as you will use epoxy ink. Epoxy ink screen printing is very common for the manufacture of the PCB prototypes.
Key Steps in PCB Prototyping Process
The process of PCB prototyping is quite complex and you will have to be very careful when engaging in it.
PCB Prototype process
The designer will have to take a tour around the PCB shops and speak to the manufacturers at a closer range. It will help in eliminating the errors that may occur during the design stage and manufacturing of the prototype. The process is, however, not practical for the designers who are outsourcing manufacturers overseas. This is the reason why you will outsource from this article on the steps to follow for the process. Continue reading and find out and find out more about the whole process to avoid any errors.
Step 1: Make Schematic Design of PCB
The designer will use a software to create the design that he wants to have for the printed circuit board. The most common PCB design software includes OrCAD, Altium Designer, KiCad, Pads, Eagle among other key software for designing PCB prototypes.
The designer should inform the manufacturer of the software that they use to avoid discrepancies. Once the design is ready and it has undergone approval for manufacturing, you will export the design to the manufacturer. The manufacturer will key in his support for the design and discuss anything that relates to its production. The program that you will use extensively is the extended Gerber a software for the 1980’s. The extended Gerber is the perfect output software format and is available for other software too. The different software for designing the PCB will also have different steps for generating the designs. They encode very important and comprehensive information such as drilling drawing, copper tracking layers, competent notations, apertures among others. At this point all the aspects of the design will be checked at this point. The software will perform or undergo certain algorithms and ensures that no errors are left behind. The designers will also look at the plans and its regards to different elements such as:
- the track width
- board edge spacing
- Size of the hole
- Tracing and spacing of the hole
After doing the full inspection thoroughly, the designer will take the design to the manufacturer for production. The manufacturer will run the design through DFM design for manufactures to ensure it is tolerant to minimum requirements. After that, the manufacturer will get to work of fabricating the circuit board.
Step 2: Create Bill of Materials (BOM)
Whenever a baker is preparing to make a cake, they have to get the ingredients necessary for the baking process. They will need to get the required tools for the process of baking such as bowls, mixers, and other items. All the items have value for money and whenever you need to get them you get a list for them. This is not different from the process of creating a bill of materials for creating a printed circuit board prototype. There are materials that you will need for the process of prototyping that have money value. You will need a list for the products so that you can go and purchase them from various outlets. Bill of materials is a list of raw materials, components and crucial materials, assemblies and sub-assemblies for manufacturing products. The manufacturers depend on the BOM to build the prototypes so it has to be as accurate as possible. Customers will also use the BOM to explain to the manufacturer the exact design of PCB they need.
Sample BOM – Photo courtesy: Printed
The assemblers will refer to the BOM to get the exact requirements of the customer in making the PCB prototype. Making a BOM for PCB prototypes can be very complex and many people prefer to skip the process. Having a BOM will help in making the process easier and enable the manufacturer to follow every step of manufacturing.
PCB prototype Assembly
When making a Bill of Materials, you should have the following in mind: assemblyYou should know the exact product that you intend to build with the material that you will buy. It usually comes as you try to design a PCB prototype and, in the process, you realize the missing material. You should have worked out a plan that will work before considering to make the bill of materials.
- Whenever you are making a BOM you should look at the mode of managing it before completing the process. Make sure you are using a software that is up to date and one that is easy to manage. Do not allow many people to edit the document that you are working on.
- Consider the people who will be using the BOM so that it is all inclusive. It has to include different people such as designers, engineers, manufacturers and purchasers. Having the idea about the people who will use the BOM will help you in the inclusion of every detail.
- You should know the information that you are to include in the BOM at least knowing the right categories. It also requires certain specifics such as names, quantity while other parts are optional. It is important to know if you will include consumable such as glue in the BOM.
- Apart from that, it is important to know the organization of the BOM before beginning on the creation. Consider the number of levels and the sub-assemblies and attach them to the main assemblies. Having a BOM that has a great organization will help in filling it up in a more efficient manner.
- Look for a better program or software that you will use in making the bill of materials. Many of the companies use the excel spreadsheet to make the BOM but you can use another type of software. If the software is not sufficient, you can choose to use other types that are easier to operate
When writing a bill of materials, you should follow the following procedure.
- Create the document on the program that you chose to use and create a spreadsheet document.
- Organize the document by establishing user permissions, create the needed levels and the track for any changes.
- Fill the columns with information about the names of the different categories you will use. The titles will include the name of the items, quantity, the part number among others.
- Fill in the rows with the right information that coincide with the titles on the columns.
- Update every space on the spreadsheet with the right information as it should be as necessary.
The bill of materials should include the following: part number, manufacture name, description, quantity, procurement type, and flexibility indicator.
Apart from that you should include alternate parts, BOM level, Supporting files, reference designator, placement method, board layer and footprints. Most of the BOM will also have the phase and the section for comments and notes.
Step 3: PCB Layout Design
This is the most important elements of design that you have to consider when making a printed circuit board design. In many cases electronic engineers dealing with different designs are responsible for making the designs of the prototype. After that, a PCB layout specialist will take charge of designing the layout from a particular schematic using a PCB CAD system.
PCB prototype design
The PCB design and layout require the experience of a specialist who has knowledge on the following:
- PCB design software
- PCB CAD system
- Techniques and standards to ensure the successful transfer of the basic design to n overall PCB. It will make it easy for the manufacturer to make the final piece of the electronic circuit.
- PCB layout design outlines
There are different designs that you can use in making a PCB layout as in the list below. There are many more and the list below is not complete as it does not cover every aspect. To have a better design follow up, you will spilt the guidelines into different sections:
- Board constraints outlines for the design that cover the initial constraints on the board.
- The overall layout for the design guidelines
- Guidelines for the layer and planes
- Guidelines for the track design
- Thermal issues
- RF considerations and signal integrity
The list above forms the main areas to consider when designing a PCB layout. The overall layout of designing the PCB involves the following process.
- First, choosing the point of reference that will suit the process of manufacturing by having reference points and holes. The points are important for picking and placing machines and testing fixtures.
- Secondly, you will allow enough board area for the circuit as it will determine the dimensions of the whole system. Do rough estimates of the dimensions and see if it will fit the board perfectly.
- After that, make sure you know the number of layers that you will require to enable earlier planning on cost. Additional layers that you did not plan for will increase the production cost.
- Consider a method that you will use in mounting on the board as different methods have different requirements.
- Have a drawing and an overview of the plan where you will place the different areas of the circuit.
Step 4: Make a Photo Film & Print Inner PCB Layers
The manufacture of the PCB will begin after the designer has given out the design considering other factors. The factors that the manufacturer will consider are the creation of bill of materials and PCB layout design. The manufacturers will begin by making a photo film and then print the inner PCB layers. The manufacturer will use special printers you can easily define as the plotter in making the photo films of the PCB. The films will act as the blue print for printing the image of the printed circuit boards prototypes. Even if it is a laser printer, it is not the standard laser printer that you may prefer. The plotters will use precise printing technology that provides a film with all the details of the PCB design. The final result is a plastic sheet which has a photo negative of the printed circuit board in black ink. The inner layer will have black ink that will represent the copper lining of the circuit board.
Multilayer PCB design
The remaining parts which is often clear will represent the areas with the non-conductive materials. The layer on the outside will follow an opposite pattern with the clear part for copper circuits. The dark part will be a representation of the material that the manufacturers will remove from the printed circuit board. The plotter will develop the film automatically and you will store it to avoid unnecessary contact. Every layer of the solder mask and printed circuit board will have its own black and clear film sheet. In total, for a two-layer PCB, you will have four sheets, two for the solder mask and the layers. All the films should be corresponding perfectly to one another and map out the PCB alignment when used in harmony. For perfect alignments of the films, you should punch registration holes through the films. Moving and adjusting the table where the film will sit ensures the exactness of the holes. The calibration of the table should lead to the exact match and then you will punch the hole. The same holes will come in handy in the next step of image processing after fitting them into registration pins.
Step 5: For Multi-layer PCB – Align the Layers
The PCB prototype will have different designs and others will have more than one layer. At this point, incase you are using a multi-layer PCB, you should align them in a particular order.
Multi layer PCB design
After the alignment, you will punch registration holes that are accurate and aligned perfectly. This is done early enough to eliminate the problem of correcting inner layers after the combination of the layers.
Step 6: Drill Holes for PCB
The next step involves drilling of holes into the stack which will be important for addition of components. You will drill precise holes to a diameter of about 100 microns and use an X-ray locater to target hole locations. The computer will control the drills as in the initial program using spindles turning at 150,000 revolutions.
Drill holes on PCB
The drill moves very fast but the process of drilling will take a while. This is because the PCBs have more than 100 holes.
Step 7: Copper Plating Process
Plating is the next process that will use a chemical bath in depositing a micron thick layer of copper on the surface of the panel.
Copper plating PCB
The copper will cover the whole panel and the interior of the holes including the fiberglass material. The computer will control the whole process as the plating covers every point that the holes were leaving bare.
Step 8: Solder Masking PCB
Solder masking is the process of applying the solder mask after cleaning the panel and applying epoxy solder mask ink. The board passes under UV lighting which then goes through the solder mask photo film thus hardening the film.
Solder masking PCB – Photo courtesy: Robot Room
The parts that were under the cover and did not get hardened undergoes peeling.
Step 9: Surface finishing
Surface finishing is the next process that involves application of extra solder ability on the printed circuit board. The final surface finishing involves chemical plating using silver or gold.
Gold plating PCB
You can as well use hot air level pads when doing the final finishing on the surface. Using the hot air pad will result in a uniform pad which gives a perfect finish on the surface. The surface finish can be of different types and designs depending on the specifications of the customer.
Step 10: Electrical Test (Fly Probe)
The technicians will perform the final test on the design by doing an electrical test. The procedure which is automatic will be the confirmation of the functionality and conformity of the PCB to original design. Most manufacturers use the flying probe when doing the electrical test.
Quality testing-Fly Probe
The flying probe involves the use of moving probes in testing the electrical performance of every net on the PCB.
PCB Prototyping Rules
Design rules checks or checking is the area of PCB prototyping that involves checking the parameters of the layout. It checks if the parameters of the design are in accordance to the series of parameters under recommendation. It is one of the major processes that the PCB prototype goes through at the last stages of the design. The process involves:
- Layout vs Schematic tests (LVS)
- XOR Checks
- Electronic rule check (ERC)
- Antenna Checks
There are other complex processes that will demand for more strict rules in order to have better results. It is important to do the rule check before engaging in the final design of the prototype.
Some of the main examples in the design rules are as follows:
- Check on the spaces of the design between different components of the PCB prototype This includes the space between the trace and pads, traces, trace and through holes, pads and through holes. Other specifications are making sure the space between the through holes are reasonable.
- Check if the width on the powerline and the ground wire is suitable and tightly joined. Do you have any places on the PCB that can give space for the connection of the ground wire?
- Check if it is the best design for key signal lines by checking length of traces, and guard wires. Please check if the output lines and input lines have a clear separation.
- Check if the digital and analogue circuits have different grounds.
- Confirm if the labels and icons on the PCB will lead to a short circuit.
- Have modifications on the lines that are not desirable
- Check for the addition of processing lines on the PCB
- Check if resistance welding is according to the requirements of the process of production. Is the welding size suitable and is the character sign on the device welding plate?
- Check if the rim on the outside of the power layer in a multi-layer board reduced. The device might short circuit if the copper foil on the power layer has no covers.
The parts of the PCB are the only ones given as examples in the list above. There are many other aspects that you should look at when doing the checks. These will make the rules of PCB prototyping.
Frequently Asked Questions on PCB Prototyping
Do you have questions on PCB prototyping, well, I have this section for you.
High frequency PCB
1)Where can I find a reliable PCB prototype manufacturer?
Depending on your location I the world, there are many PCB prototype manufacturers spread all over the world. In the United States, the only reliable manufacturers we were able to access in the past were overseas. In light of the increasing demand for PCB prototypes, numerous manufacturers have come up in different parts of the world. The best way of finding a reliable manufacturer is by searching for them online and speaking to them directly. You can as well travel to the nearest manufacturer so that you can have a close chat for your project.
2)Will the manufacture of my PCB prototype cost me an arm and a leg?
It is important for you to know the truth about the process of PCB prototyping. First, it is not one of the most lucrative businesses that manufacturers often prefer to engage in. Different manufacturers will charge you different prices for the design that you expect them to come up with. Some manufacturers will respond to you by jacking up prices but that should not discourage you. There are manufacturers who have come up with a plan that will help in reducing the cost of PCB manufacturing. They have come up with a way of leveraging sophisticated software and combine prototype orders to bigger runs. This process will reduce the cost of making the CB prototypes even if it involves a single order.
3)How long will it take for me to get my PCB prototype from the manufacturer?
The manufacturer is able to turn in the prototype as soon as they complete making the design. It will, however, depend on the kind of technology that the manufacturer uses for production of the prototypes. The manufacturers keeping up with modern technology can turn the project in within days of making the order. Traditionally it would take the longest period to get the product as it extended to weeks or even months. Having the right partner enables you to get your quotation as soon as you upload the documents on the design and the BOM.
4)How will I handle the process of sourcing?
In case you decide to use a cloud manufacturer or on-demand manufacturer, they will handle the sourcing for you. They will use the relationship that they have been having with the manufacturers for better deals and pricing. Some of them will purchase the common parts in huge bulks at low rates and pass the savings to you through House Parts program.
5)Is it possible to have a track of the progress for the project?
It is possible to track the progress of the project your manufacturer is handling. The PCB manufacturer should have an online service for managing and tracking the progress of the project. You are at liberty of making any changes in the process and also run the reports at any time of the day.
6)May I know the meaning of “Concept to Customer” manufacturing?
This is the concept that offers step by step service to the customer for the whole part of product lifecycle. They will take care of the order for the PCB prototype, assemble the production devices and manufacture the electronic devices. They will also manage the inventory and ship the final product to you all the way to your doors step.
You are now in a better position of making the right decision on making the PCB prototypes. Apart from that, you know how you can get in touch with the different manufacturers to help you. Do not wait any more, pick up your phone and make the call for your PCB prototype. We are here to help in PCB prototyping.