In electronics, printed circuit boards, or PCBs, are used to mechanically support electronic components which have their connection leads soldered onto copper pads in surface area mount applications or through rilled holes in the board and copper pads for soldering the element leads in thru-hole applications. A board style may have all thru-hole elements on the leading or part side, a mix of thru-hole and surface area mount on the top just, a mix of thru-hole and surface area install parts on the top side and surface install elements on the bottom or circuit side, or surface mount components on the top and bottom sides of the board.

The boards are likewise used to electrically connect the needed leads for each component using conductive copper traces. The component pads and connection traces are etched from copper sheets laminated onto a non-conductive substrate. Printed circuit boards are developed as single sided with copper pads and traces on one side of the board just, double sided with copper pads and traces on the top and bottom sides of the board, or multilayer styles with copper pads and traces on top and bottom of board with a variable variety of internal copper layers with traces and connections.

Single or double sided boards include a core dielectric product, such as FR-4 epoxy fiberglass, with copper plating on one or both sides. This copper plating is etched away to form the actual copper pads and connection traces on the board surfaces as part of the board manufacturing procedure. A multilayer board consists of a variety of layers of dielectric material that has actually been impregnated with adhesives, and these layers are utilized to separate the layers of copper plating. All of these layers are lined up and after that bonded into a single board structure under heat and ISO 9001 Accreditation pressure. Multilayer boards with 48 or more layers can be produced with today's innovations.

In a typical four layer board style, the internal layers are often used to offer power and ground connections, such as a +5 V plane layer and a Ground aircraft layer as the 2 internal layers, with all other circuit and element connections made on the leading and bottom layers of the board. Really intricate board designs may have a a great deal of layers to make the different connections for different voltage levels, ground connections, or for connecting the lots of leads on ball grid array devices and other big integrated circuit bundle formats.

There are normally two kinds of product utilized to construct a multilayer board. Pre-preg product is thin layers of fiberglass pre-impregnated with an adhesive, and is in sheet form, usually about.002 inches thick. Core material is similar to a really thin double sided board in that it has a dielectric material, such as epoxy fiberglass, with a copper layer deposited on each side, typically.030 density dielectric product with 1 ounce copper layer on each side. In a multilayer board style, there are two approaches used to build up the preferred variety of layers. The core stack-up technique, which is an older innovation, uses a center layer of pre-preg product with a layer of core material above and another layer of core product listed below. This combination of one pre-preg layer and two core layers would make a 4 layer board.

The movie stack-up approach, a more recent technology, would have core product as the center layer followed by layers of pre-preg and copper product developed above and listed below to form the final number of layers needed by the board design, sort of like Dagwood developing a sandwich. This method allows the maker versatility in how the board layer thicknesses are integrated to meet the finished product density requirements by varying the number of sheets of pre-preg in each layer. When the material layers are finished, the whole stack goes through heat and pressure that causes the adhesive in the pre-preg to bond the core and pre-preg layers together into a single entity.

The process of producing printed circuit boards follows the steps listed below for the majority of applications.

The procedure of figuring out materials, procedures, and requirements to meet the customer's specs for the board design based upon the Gerber file information provided with the purchase order.

The procedure of moving the Gerber file data for a layer onto an etch resist movie that is put on the conductive copper layer.

The conventional process of exposing the copper and other locations unprotected by the etch resist film to a chemical that eliminates the vulnerable copper, leaving the protected copper pads and traces in place; newer procedures utilize plasma/laser etching rather of chemicals to eliminate the copper product, enabling finer line definitions.

The procedure of aligning the conductive copper and insulating dielectric layers and pushing them under heat to trigger the adhesive in the dielectric layers to form a strong board product.

The procedure of drilling all the holes for plated through applications; a 2nd drilling process is used for holes that are not to be plated through. Details on hole area and size is contained in the drill drawing file.

The procedure of using copper plating to the pads, traces, and drilled through holes that are to be plated through; boards are placed in an electrically charged bath of copper.

This is needed when holes are to be drilled through a copper area however the hole is not to be plated through. Avoid this process if possible due to the fact that it includes expense to the ended up board.

The process of using a protective masking product, a solder mask, over the bare copper traces or over the copper that has had a thin layer of solder used; the solder mask safeguards versus environmental damage, offers insulation, safeguards against solder shorts, and protects traces that run between pads.

The process of finish the pad areas with a thin layer of solder to prepare the board for the ultimate wave soldering or reflow soldering process that will happen at a later date after the components have actually been put.

The procedure of applying the markings for element classifications and component details to the board. Might be applied to just the top side or to both sides if elements are installed on both top and bottom sides.

The procedure of separating multiple boards from a panel of identical boards; this procedure likewise allows cutting notches or slots into the board if needed.

A visual evaluation of the boards; likewise can be the process of inspecting wall quality for plated through holes in multi-layer boards by cross-sectioning or other techniques.

The process of checking for continuity or shorted connections on the boards by methods using a voltage between different points on the board and identifying if a current flow occurs. Relying on the board intricacy, this procedure might require a specifically created test fixture and test program to incorporate with the electrical test system used by the board producer.