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PCB Design Facts You Need To Know

If you’re interested in printed circuit board (PCB) design, it is good to know the important details. To give you an idea of what’s involved in PCB design, here are five facts you need to know.

  1. No Need for Wires

    Printed circuit boards don’t require wires to transmit power and data. Instead, PCBs use copper traces which take up far less space than wires. This makes for smaller and thinner boards. However, copper is more expensive than wire materials, so ensure that you factor in this cost when budgeting for your PCB production.

  2. Customization Is Doable, but It’ll Cost You

    You can customize a PCB to the specifications you want. The only issue with customizing your board is that it can add extra costs and time to your production process. For this reason, many PCB designers use parameters that are pre-specified. Even though pre-specified parameters are used you still get the freedom of defining what your finished product will do.

  3. Technology Moves Fast

    Technology is ever evolving, and this is especially true for PCB design. If you don’t keep up with the technological advancements involved in PCB design you could find yourself using techniques and materials that are on their way to obsolescence. For instance, biodegradable PCBs will soon be the norm because people are looking for ways to make electronic devices greener. Another innovation being considered is the use of graphene as a new material to use in PCB construction to create smaller and more efficient boards.

  4. You Need to Experiment

    To keep up with technology (as mentioned above in #3) you need to be willing to experiment in order to stay afloat in a sea of improvements. When you experiment with new materials and advancing technology you can have a hand in making PCB design faster. The faster the PCB design process is, the more efficient it is, too.

  5. Budget, Budget and Budget Again

    Thirty-one percent of all overall product costs are PCBs, so make sure you keep that in mind when sourcing the components needed to create your board. However, if you are willing to experiment (as mentioned above in #4), you may be able to save time and money. Plus, you may get an overall better product.

If you are tech-savvy, interested in PCB production and take these five facts into consideration, you could find yourself with the right tools to create the perfect board.

What Is Surface Mounted Technology?

Surface mounted technology, often referred to as surface-mount technology or SMT, is perhaps something you have heard of, but you aren’t exactly sure what it is. Rising to prevalence in the 1980s, SMT has become an increasingly popular method for producing electronic circuits. If you are producing printed circuit boards or are looking to have one produced for you, SMT may prove to be the perfect solution.

What is SMT?

Surface mounted technology is a way to produce electronic circuits that involves placing the components involved precisely onto the surface of a printed circuit board (PCB). Devices that are made in this manner are called surface-mount devices (SMD). SMT is now one of the go-to methods for PCB construction, replacing through-hole technology, which fit the board’s components with wire leads directed into the holes. If some of the components cannot handle surface mounting, as with heat-sinked power semiconductors and big transformers, both types of technologies can be used on the same PCB.

What Kind of Devices Are Made with SMT?

SMTs come in three categories which determines the type of device.

  1. Passive SMDs: These are capacitors or resistors that use standardized components like coils and crystals.
  2. Integrated circuits: Constructed from basic electronic parts, integrated circuits that are SMDs can vary depending on the type of connectivity required.
  3. Transistors and diodes: Typically found in a small plastic package, transistors and diodes use leads that form connections and actually touch the board.

Advantages and Disadvantages of SMT

Surface mounted technology comes with many benefits because of the way it is designed and manufactured. Furthermore, SMT uses a lower mass of components that provides better shock and vibration resistance. In general, the advantages of SMT outweigh the disadvantages, which is why it is the preferred method of producing PCBs.

Advantages of SMT Disadvantages of SMT
Automated production and soldering saves time Repairing the board can be difficult because of the small component size
Reduced cost compared to other PCB production methods Through-hole construction may be required for large or high-power parts
Components can be placed on either side of the board Components that need to be connected and disconnected frequently can be impossible for SMT
Can better handle vibrations, exceptional performance in shaky conditions
Components are smaller and denser

Surface mounted technology is a favourite for printed circuit board producers. For more information about SMT and SMDs, please contact us.

Questions You Should Ask Your Electronics Manufacturer

When choosing an electronics manufacturer, you want to pick a company that has a good reputation and can handle the building of your product. To determine which electronics manufacturer will provide the best solutions for your needs, ask the following five questions.

  1. What Certifications Does the Manufacturer Possess?

    You want to ensure that the company has the certifications necessary to run their system. Ask for documentation as proof that the company meets the necessary requirements to create your product. This also goes for operator certifications. For instance, is their a certified IPC trainer on staff?

  2. What Equipment Is Used and What Is the Assembly Environment Like?

    A clean, easy to navigate factory is what you’re looking for. Although you may not be in the factory often (or at all) during the creation of your product, you want to make sure that the equipment is up-to-date and that the company is keeping up with new technologies as they emerge.

  3. Will They Be Completely Transparent with You?

    Transparency is key with any electronics manufacturer. You should be granted the opportunity to check in on your product whenever you feel like it. If the company doesn’t allow pop-ins or allow you to question any part of the manufacturing process, they’re not the right fit for you (or anybody else).

  4. What Is Their Inventory Management Process Like?

    Whether you are making a prototype or looking for an entire product run, you want to know that the company can handle anything and everything that could arise. Furthermore, you want to make sure they have the components and parts necessary to make your product on hand, to ensure that there are no delays in production.

  5. Do They Have References?

    Ask for a list of current and former clients that you can get in touch with. Talking to those who are currently working with the electronics manufacturer, or have in the past, will give you a sense of how they respond to problems, how efficient they are and what their customer service is like. You don’t have to call every single person who has ever set foot in the manufacturer’s factory; two or three references will suffice. If the electronics manufacturer won’t give references, they have something to hide.

If you ask the above questions and get the answers you’re looking for, you’ll find the right electronics manufacturer for your product. Please contact us for more information regarding electronics manufacturing. We can help!

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