When you consider how much technology has advanced over recent years, you ought to take into account just how much change the printed circuit board manufacturer has also had to face. Designs have become much more compact in recent years. Consequently a lot of electronic circuitry has also had to be rethought.
Despite looking complicated, designing and building your own printed circuit board, or PCB, is quite straightforward. As an individual the quantity of PCBs that you construct would be quite low. Often they would be made at the individual's home, without any special precautions being observed.
Understandably commercial ventures will need these products in greater numbers, but to a uniform standard. With uniformity uppermost in their minds, most manufacturers build these PCBs in clean zones. At the highest levels of cleanliness, even the air is filtered. The workers in these zones will all have been highly trained, and will dress in protective clothing.
The purpose behind this special clothing is to give protection to the delicate components, and still permit the wearer to have full mobility. If you were to view a PCB you will note just how close the components are to one another. An erroneous voltage, or spark, could potentially irreparably damage these components. Static electricity is the main concern.
All PCB work has to take place at specific work areas. Once at these work areas the worker will connect a wrist strap that they are wearing to that work bench. This means that the bench, the worker and the PCB all have the same ground potential. As a further measure to reduce the possibility of a static build up, some workers also prefer to wear a heel grounder.
As you can imagine a manufacturer takes great steps to ensure that all relevant procedures are complied with. One stray voltage could potentially be a very costly error. So not only are the operatives all correctly trained, but they will continuously be retrained to ensure that standards do not slip.
The manufacturer will initially receive the design for a new, or redesigned PCB. This then has to be transferred onto a laminated resin and fibre board. These boards are designed to be non conductive, so the only path for an electric current to travel will be along the designated tracks. The tracks are laid out in accordance with the design, and sealed in place.
These resin and fibre boards are available in a wide range of sizes. If weight is an issue, then often smaller boards are utilised. Some of the most common designs seen are either single or double sided, and the components will either be surface mounted or through holes drilled into the board.
The easiest PCB to recognise is the through board, single sided variety. You will see components on one face of the PCB, with the metal tracks on the other. The component legs are fed through the holes so that they can be soldered to the track, and the components are bigger than those used for surface mounting. When the PCB has been fully made the printed circuit board manufacturer will start to electronically test the whole assembly. So proving that everything is as the customer has ordered.
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