Contrary to popular belief, printed circuit boards can actually be assembled by anyone, even those with low engineering and technical skills. PCBs can be customized and assembled depending on the purpose it is intended for.
Printed circuit boards are generally used as main components of appliances, gadgets and other technological innovations that function using electrical circuit. Printed circuit boards are made from non conductive materials such as fiberglass and plastic to create the thin and flexible base while the electrical components and links are usually made from copper. The PCB connects all the parts of an appliance or gadget to make it function as a whole. It provides a circuit of path for the electricity to flow from one part to another.
PCBs can be made and customized as long as a circuit design is ready and the materials are available. To start assembling printed circuit boards, the first step is to choose what method to use. This is usually based on the available materials and one’s technical skills and knowledge about PCBs, engineering and electricity.
Some of the popular methods in making PCBs are UV etching method, acid etching method, routing method and laser etching method. The acid etching method requires extreme safety measures and advances technical skill in handling equipments and materials. Nonetheless, it is preferred in making simple circuit boards.
The UV etching method requires expensive equipments in assembling the PCB. But, it uses very simple steps and requires less safety measure and technical skill. Aside from that, the output is of good quality.
The routing method uses certain machines in making the circuit boards. But it is preferred in producing large numbers of PCBs. Like the routing method, the laser etching method is also used by PCB manufacturing companies. Instead of a machine, laser is used to etch the circuit boards.
After choosing the assembly method, the next step is designing the circuit layout of the PCB. This step is made easier by using special softwares and programs that can transform circuit diagrams into PCB layouts.
Then, gather all the needed materials and equipments for assembling the PCB. Next, design PCB layout onto the copper coated board which will serve as the circuit board’s base. This step, however, is only applicable to the UV etching method and acid etching method.
After printing the PCB layout, start etching the details on the board. Etching removes unnecessary copper parts and forms the holes and parts that are needed in linking wires together.
Using a drilling machine, drill the mount points of the PCB. In mass production, a special drilling machine is used. However, in making simple PCBs, a drilling tool found at home can be used.
Once the drills are made, the next step is to start mounting and soldering the components and other parts of the PCB. The last step is to check if the PCB works.
When assembling PCBs at home, it is important to use good quality materials and equipments. As much as possible, take the time to practice to improve in assembling PCBs. Learn different assembly techniques and use good quality equipments in able to produce good quality circuit boards.
However, if one wants to save time and effort, circuit boards can be bought or ordered in bulks from PCB making companies. Several companies specialize in manufacturing PCBs according to the specifications of the customers. Company ordered printed circuit boards are of higher quality compared to homemade ones since it’s made with high quality materials and state of the art equipments. Aside from that, commercially sold circuit boards are also affordable and cost effective.