02/19/2020 at 11:53 •
Img credit: coghlincompanies
When you look at a Printed Circuit Board (PCB), you'll likely be surprised by how many tiny components it has. What's more amazing is that a ton of these are made all at the same time.
The secret sauce is the use of the right PCB assembly equipment.
The manufacture of a PCB is a multi-step process that involves a lot of machinery. Each equipment is used at a specific part of the assembly line and does a specialized job.
Among the equipment, there are some essential ones which you’ll need in almost every project. No matter what type of PCB you’re creating, here are some basics you need to have.
1.Solder Printing Machine
One of the first things you need to do with a PCB is to find a way to stick the components to the main board.
A machine attaches the components with solder, a paste-like substance composed of tiny pieces of metal alloy. Eventually, it melts at specific temperatures to create a permanent bond that permits electrical connections.
The task of putting the solder paste at specific areas of the main board falls to the solder printing machine.
This machine uses a stencil with holes that correspond to the areas on the board where the solder paste needs to go. The stencil avoids the solder from getting into unnecessary places on the board. The stencil printer then applies the paste evenly using a squeegee.
2.Reflow Soldering Machine
After the components and solder have been laid out, the final step is to melt the solder paste to lock everything in. This melting happens with a soldering machine. There are two types of devices to do this, but all of them involve passing the board over at precise temperatures.
The more common equipment is the Reflow Soldering machine. This machine acts like a large oven, where circuit boards are moved along via a conveyer belt. Each zone then exposes the boards to specific temperatures, hardening the solder into a stable connection.
Another type is called a Wave Soldering machine, which passes the board into a wave of molten solder, hence the name. Compared to reflow soldering, however, wave soldering is a less precise process. If the PCB needs fine soldering work, reflow is the way to go.
3.Pick and Place Machine
The Pick and Place Machine is one of the more fundamental parts of any PCB assembly line. That’s because it performs an essential operation – placing components on the board.
This machine is a feat of modern engineering. It works by suctioning off the components and laying them out precisely on the areas of the board using an automated arm. The machine works at a fast rate of 30,000 parts an hour, or else the assembly line will bog down.
What makes the whole thing even more amazing is that each component is minuscule – they’re mostly less than an inch in size.
4.In-Circuit Testing Machine
Testing a PCB is as crucial as the entire manufacturing process. Testing allows you to detect any defects before the manufacturers release the boards, avoiding costly product recalls or a waste of materials.
One of the most accepted ways to test is by using an In-Circuit Testing Machine. It’s also called the Bed of Nails test for the array of pins it has that resembles nails.
The machine tests by pressing a finished board over this pin array. Each pin makes contact with key components on the board, and the machine then sends test signals through the pin and onto the PCB. It can then detect any breaks on the electrical circuit – a sure sign of board defect.
5.Functional Validation Test (FVT) Machine
The Functional Validation Test is the final and most crucial step in the PCB testing process. Visual and electrical testing can only tell you if there are any physical or electrical defects, but not if the board itself works.
An FVT Machine is similar to a functioning computer. The PCB connects to the FVT, which in turn, loads software to the board. It attempts to simulate whether the board will work as it’s...Read more »