The electronics industry has made significant advancements in technology in the last few years. Some of the electronic devices and components that we continue to disregard, even though they make our daily lives easier, have become smarter, faster, and significantly smaller. Thanks to these amazing improvements in PCB technology, our daily lives now have an aura of science fiction. We can now do things that we thought were only possible in sci-fi. Improvements in PCB fabrication are pronounced in assembly technology, mostly in machinery and processes.
The manufacture of printed circuit boards has come a long way since the days of the Z1, the world’s first programmable computer. Access to vast computing power and smart vision systems in the assembly process has led to fast PCB manufacturing. But before we delve into the details, let’s look at what printed circuit boards are and some of their applications.
What is PCB?
A printed circuit board (PCB) is a device on which the circuit of an electronic device is laid out. By itself, a printed circuit board is a very simple piece of technology. The circuit is crucial to the functioning of the equipment the PCB is installed on, which is why it’s often included in conversations involving printed circuit boards.
What Are PCBs Used For?
The role of PCB in an electronic system is to deliver an electric charge to the different components of the device. PCBs are essential in the manufacture of all types of electronic devices, including computers, mobile phones, and televisions- virtually any programmable device including calculators and modern cars. Technological improvements in the manufacture of printed circuit boards have made the process cheaper, faster, and more accurate. Some of these technologies include:
Ink Jet Technology
The ability to apply solder paste with ink jet technology has been one of the biggest improvements in PCB assembly. Ink jet solder machines use smaller features to print solder paste directly on the PCB. This is a major leap from the use of stencil to apply solder paste.
The need to track products as they pass through the assembling plants has led to the emergence of RFD, smart barcodes, and robotic technologies on the manufacturing floor. Various manufacturing functions in the plant are now handled by robots with human-like hands. There are also new laser soldering robots that eliminate interference with their multi-directional soldering components. Laser soldering also comes with variable diameters in their laser beams for optimal performance. Human motion on the manufacturing floor is imitated using intuitive robots.
It took time, but the creation of lead-free solders has been worth the wait for PCB manufacturers. This breakthrough has provided a solution to what has been one of the most challenging aspects of PCB assembly. Lead-based solders were slow and inefficient, which significantly increased manufacturing costs.
Finally, laser drills are one of the biggest inventions in PCB manufacture. Laser drills come with Z-axis control which allows the drilling of smaller holes. It also reduces node impedance by allowing back drilling. Laser drills have much higher drilling speeds, which leads to higher output.