Beginners in PCB fabrication often find it difficult to find a starting point. This is because creating a printed circuit board often entails a lot of processes. Fabricators also have to make sure that they take note of even the smallest details of the process in order to minimize errors.
For those who are engaged in the fabrication of PCBs purely as a hobby, they can create a checklist that lists down what to do and what not to do during the fabrication process.
This checklist could include the following items:
1) The type of PCB that they would be designing.
First-time PCB fabrication hobbyists are often advised to only create designs for single-sided PCBs. This schematic diagram for this type of PCB is easy to design and does not require a lot of junctions and symbols and stuff like that. However, those hobbyists who are already a bit confident of their skills in creating PCBs can also engage in creating double-sided PCBs.
2) The clearance that would be placed between each of the PCBs conductor tracks.
This is an important part of the PCB fabrication process because it determines whether the finished product will have functional failures or not. Hobbyists have to calculate the distance properly, as well as arm themselves with a clear understanding of the in-depth rules for voltage differences and conductor clearance.
Hobbyists also have to take note that the safety standards for most industrial products dictate that devices with 40-volt mains should have a minimum clearance of at least 8mm. There are many other things that have to be taken into consideration in terms of voltage and clearance, which is why hobbyists have to take the time to do some research.
3) The thickness of the substrate coating between each of the PCB’s layers of copper laminate.
This is more applicable for hobbyists who plan to create double-sided or multi-layer PCBs. The thickness of the substrate also depends on a lot of factors. Those who are unsure on how to choose the proper thickness of a PCB substrate can simply order a ready-to-use base board.
They can order the standard-sized PCB substrate that is 0.063 inches thick, or they can also seek the advice of knowledgeable staff members when it comes to choosing the right thickness of the copper laminate that is suitable for the PCB design.
Another factor to take into consideration before undertaking the PCB fabrication process is the type of etching process to use for transferring the design pattern onto the copper laminate.There are various ways to achieve this, including:
4) Transferring the design on the copper laminate via a silk screen printer.
This involves using high quality ink for transferring the design through a mesh onto the laminate. This is one of the oldest methods of transferring a design onto another item. This process is best used by hobbyists who have the patience for painstakingly drawing the tiniest details of the circuit design on the mesh or silk screen fabric.
Although there have been several modern methods of stenciling a design on a silk screen mesh printer, these methods still involve a lot of work.
5) Transferring the design through a method known as isolation milling.
This design transfer method is also referred to as a subtraction method. This is because it involves slowly chipping away parts of the copper laminate in accordance with how the circuit pattern is designed.
One advantage of this method is that it does not require the use of any harmful chemicals for making the circuit design stick on the copper laminate.
There are many other etching methods that hobbyists can choose from. All they have to do is to decide on which method to use and to prepare all the necessary tools that the method requires.
PCB fabrication and assembly is a methodology which makes the PCB components mounted and soldered in the printed circuit board.