Wednesday, October 16th
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Manufacturing Day Celebrates & Inspires Modern Manufacturing

Manufacturing Day Celebrates & Inspires Modern Manufacturing

In a post last year, we discussed the trend of reshoring (or onshoring) the manufacturing of Printed Circuit Boards. Organizations like the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) are supporting reshoring efforts and track key statistics related to trends in manufacturing. Looking at the facts related to manufacturing jobs in California, it’s easy to question whether progress is being made. But we believe the outlook for California manufacturing and specifically Silicon… Read More

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Cross Section Analysis: Inside a PCB

Cross Section Analysis: Inside a PCB

How can the internal quality of a printed circuit board be inspected and verified using cross section analysis? Recently we published an article that talked about IPC Inspection guidelines that provides an overview of the standards used in the inspection process of printed circuits boards. One of the many inspection processes that measure the quality of the circuit board is called a Cross Section Analysis or Micro-section. To complete the analysis… Read More

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Introduction to IPC Inspection Guidelines

Introduction to IPC Inspection Guidelines

Acceptable Quality Level Before discussing IPC Inspection Guidelines, it’s important to understand the meaning of the term Acceptable Quality Level (AQL), also referred to as Acceptance Quality Limit. It is an inspection standard that prescribes the range of the number of defective components that is considered acceptable when random sampling those components during an inspection. The Acceptance Quality Level determines the maximum number of defective units, beyond which a batch is… Read More

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Surface Finish Characteristics & Applications for Printed Circuit Boards

Surface Finish Characteristics & Applications for Printed Circuit Boards

The PCB Surface Finish you select may be the most important material decision you make for your electronic assembly. The Surface Finish you select will influence the cost, manufacturability, quality, and reliability of the final product. Just a few years ago, nearly three fourths of all the electronics were produced with SnPb or Hot Air Solder Level (HASL) as the finish. Today, other surface finishes have emerged, including: ENIG, ENEPIG,… Read More

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Functional 3D Inkjet Printing of Solder Mask

Functional 3D Inkjet Printing of Solder Mask

The traditional solder mask process is in danger.  Digital inkjet processing has reached the point where it has become a viable option in the PCB manufacturing industry. Equipment for such an application has been around for a number of years with emphasis placed on printing legend or nomenclature on panels. However, the application of solder mask with the same type of equipment has shown real promise recently. New equipment such… Read More

An Overview of LPI Soldermask and the PCB Manufacturing Process

An Overview of LPI Soldermask and the PCB Manufacturing Process

For many years the only color you would see on a printed circuit board was green.  Maybe a military influence?  The color of the printed circuit board is only a small part of the consideration for the circuit’s design today. Liquid PhotoImagible soldermask, commonly called LPI or LPISM is a two component liquid ink that is mixed just prior to application to preserve its shelf life and is a relatively… Read More

Bare Printed Circuit Board Electrical Test

Bare Printed Circuit Board Electrical Test

We can perform a visual inspection following the manufacturing process of a printed circuit board to find any potential problems. While that may work fine for a two-layer PCB, for multi-layer PCBs, it is almost impossible to visually inspect the internal layers once the board has been completed.  Therefore, visual tests are done on inner layers prior to lamination to find any problems and correct them.  However, the only way… Read More

Introduction to Drilling and Vias

Introduction to Drilling and Vias

It wasn’t that long ago a printed circuit board was drilled using a simple drill press.  The operator had to manually move the panel to the correct x and y coordinate and then pull the lever to drill an individual hole.  This process was repeated over and over again until all the holes were drilled. Today, it’s not uncommon for a PCB to have more than 10,000 drill hits of… Read More

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Reshoring of Printed Circuit Board Manufacturing

Reshoring of Printed Circuit Board Manufacturing

For many people, the words “Made in the USA” have become a rallying cry. In fact, a survey done in 2012 found that 83% of US citizens disapprove of companies that manufacture their goods overseas and they are interested in initiatives that strengthen the US manufacturing base*. Their wishes are finally being granted. The Reshoring Trend Reshoring is the return of manufacturing jobs to the US from countries such as… Read More

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ENEPIG Plating – A Guide to the Evolution of PCB Finishes

ENEPIG Plating – A Guide to the Evolution of PCB Finishes

The evolution of technology manufacturing is always moving towards a higher level of complexity.   Newer designs have to be lighter, faster and smaller with every iteration of the next device. Not only do we continue to move towards more complex technology as a printed circuit board manufacturer, but we strive to do so in an environmentally friendly way, working to eliminate potentially harmful chemicals for our processes. To that end… Read More

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Cost Determining Factors When Quoting PCBs – Part II

Cost Determining Factors When Quoting PCBs – Part II

Our last post covered many of the cost factors used by a fabricator to calculate cost of a printed circuit board.  For those with industry experience many of these factors may be obvious but there are other factors that contribute to cost that may be less obvious and we’ll cover several of these today. Having an understanding of these cost factors will not only empower buyers to ask the right… Read More

Cost Determining Factors When Quoting PCBs – Part I

Cost Determining Factors When Quoting PCBs – Part I

Customers and/or buyers who are relatively new to the printed circuit board (PCB) industry may sometimes be confused as to how a particular project is priced by the fabricator.  Today we’ll begin to demystify the factors used by fabricators to calculate price, empowering you to better plan and price your next PCB project. PCB Pricing is a result of many different elements.  Every PCB manufacturer will have some similar needs… Read More

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Learn from a Fabricator; Time and Money Saving Design Rules

Learn from a Fabricator; Time and Money Saving Design Rules

As a PCB fabricator we’re frequently asked, “What are your basic design rules?” Typically what designers are looking for are some guidelines to follow when designing a PCB layout, though this could mean a variety of things. Over the years there’s been a movement towards designing smaller and faster electronics but smaller and faster can also mean more difficult to fabricate resulting in higher costs. While some may put more… Read More

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Pcb Array’s Definition of Terms

Pcb Array’s Definition of Terms

PCB Array – What is it? Also take a look at our new PCB Array Calculator 1.01. What do you think of when you hear the word “array”? Perhaps you think of an antenna array, or possibly some type of mathematical array or maybe even Video Graphics Array (VGA like the adapter connection from your PC to your Monitor). It is definitely one of those words in the English language… Read More

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Controlled Impedance for Printed Circuit Boards

Controlled Impedance for Printed Circuit Boards

Controlled Impedance: First of all I am not an Electrical Engineer and I do not play one on TV.  This is meant to be a very basic idea of what controlled impedance is and how it relates to printed circuit manufacturing.  I would love to have comments from electrical engineers in the comment section below! What is Controlled Impedance? Electrical impedance is the measure of the opposition (resistance) that a… Read More

An Expert’s Guide to PCB Finishes

An Expert’s Guide to PCB Finishes

Applying the surface finish is one of the last steps of manufacturing a printed circuit board. The surface PCB finish is designed to prevent oxidation of the remaining exposed copper, while the soldermask covers the majority of the circuitry. This is important because oxidized copper cannot be soldered. In rare instances, when a printed circuit board requires “body gold,” the finish is applied to the copper prior to the soldermask… Read More

Outer Layer Image and Soldermask

Outer Layer Image and Soldermask

Alright let us do a quick re-cap of what we have covered so far. We have given an overview of some basic materials and the initial process for developing imaging for inner layers. We have covered the lamination and drill process. Now we are coming down the home stretch. Now that the panels are drilled we need to do the outer layer image and copper plating process. That begins with… Read More

Lamination and Drill of Printed Circuit Boards

Lamination and Drill of Printed Circuit Boards

We learned how the inner core of a 4 layer PCB is processed prior to adding the outside layers in our last post. In this post we will take about the next part of our “sandwich” construction – but first, let’s start with a brief introduction of foil lamination. Foil Lamination There are a variety of ways that foil lamination is used as well as a variety of materials that… Read More

Pizza, Pop and PCBs at Bay Area Circuits

Pizza, Pop and PCBs at Bay Area Circuits

I just wanted to thank Angela Alexander from Iconnect007.com for attending our workshop and doing this write up.  Angela also took the pictures you see here as well.   Recently I was invited to Bay Area Circuits for an evening of Pizza, Pop, and PCBs. The event was organized by Peter Brissette, Marketing Manager at Bay Area Circuits in Redwood City, CA. The seminar has long been a dream of… Read More

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Multi Layer PCB Image Process

Multi Layer PCB Image Process

In our last post we talked about the basic material used to start the PCB manufacturing process. If we were doing a double sided board it would actually be going into drill at this part of the process. We will get to that eventually. What we are going to do is walk through the multilayer process which is a different process initially. We will pick up at drill and the… Read More