When you talk about manufacturing circuit boards, note that this is not a simple thing; rather it is a long and complicated process. The entire process consumes time, requires expert brains, technology and electricity, and much more. All these are used to make way for manufacturing the end product, i.e. your mobile phone, or computer system or any other electronic equipment you see around you.
The PCB (Printed Circuit Board) integrates all chips and microprocessors to form the operational part of every electronic device. So, needless to say, PCB assembly is the most important factor in the manufacturing of all electronic devices. Here we will discuss about how printed circuit board assembly is done. So, let’s get started.
PCB assembly is done using 2 types of construction methods.
1. Through-hole construction: Here the leads of the components are inserted into holes.
2. Surface-mount construction: In this case the components leads are placed on the outer surface of the PCBs using some lands or pads.
Both these construction methods include the fixing of component leads to the PCB with molten metal solder electronically or mechanically. When the production volume of the circuit boards is more, then soldering components to the printed circuit board is best done by machines. And, if the production demand is less, hand-made soldering is fine (Ball grid arrays cannot be soldered by hand however).
When the circuit board has the possibility of going through any physical stress, Through-hole construction method practically has the edge on Surface-mount method as it gives more strength and grip to the components. Otherwise, Surface-mount technique works good as it takes up less space on the PCB.
In Circuit board assembly process next comes the testing phase. After the board and components have been fully constructed they are tested to ensure that there is no fault in the operation and the performance of the device is fine. The testing process includes:
1. A thorough visual check to inspect whether all the components are soldered and assembled properly to the circuit board or not (this is accomplished when power is off).
2. When power is OFF, Analog Signature Analysis is also performed. Here a current-limited AC sinewave is applied across two points of the components and the circuit.
3. Switching the power ON, an In-Circuit test is performed to check all the physical measurements like voltage, frequency etc.
4. When power in ON the final Functional Test is also performed to verify whether the circuit board is functioning properly or not. This confirms the product delivery time.
During the testing phase if any part is found improper, then it is removed from the board and allowed to process again which is called Reworking. This concludes the entire PCB assembly process.