PCB Panelization is an efficient way of producing small circuit boards from a more extensive and much broader array because of its:
- Capability of producing large quantities of boards in a short time
Nevertheless, a PCB manufacturer has to abide by specific guidelines to ensure none of the boards gets damaged during the process.
- Facts to consider before panelization
Due to the variety of panelization procedures, manufacturers have to consider three key factors before the process starts. They are:
- Design: It determines the clearance between the edge and the different components of the board.
- Materials: Certain materials are more prone to splintering than others. Thicker boards chip easily and may even break when exposed to a lot of pressure.
- Components: The presence of individual sensitive parts which can get damaged also limits a board to specific breakout procedures.
- Different types of panelization
- V-Score Panelization: This method creates V-shaped grooves in between individual PCBs with each slot going as deep as a third of a board’s thickness.
Once the machine finishes digging these grooves, another device carries out the breakout process. This is only done when the board is prone to splintering by hand-breaking.
V-score is most efficient among the three procedures. It is portable, and the depaneling process is also cost-effective.
- Tab routing panelization: PCBs are cut within the array and placed on a board containing perforated tabs. This technique is useful because of its supportive capabilities that help with edge-hanging parts. The cuts usually include 3-5 holes in regular intervals. It’s ideal for creating a PCB prototype since it is safer and can also be broken by hands.
- Solid tab panelization: This procedure is the least used because of its inefficiency and high costs.
PCB Fabrication increases the overall strength, making it hard to depanel afterwards.
Using a depaneling router produces dust and vibration while a laser is inefficient for boards with over 1mm thickness. The hook method is also ineffective as it’s prone to blade rotation.
- Breaking Out Instructions for a PCB manufacturer
Here is a set of guidelines to prevent splintering and tearing of PCB components during a breakout process:
- Machines: A thicker board may be hard to break entirely by hand. In such cases, you can use a depaneling router or a hook blade to make the job a lot easier.
- Hand- Applicable only for tab routed panels; where you use pliers to break PCBs from an array board.
- V-Scores by hand: Depending on the board design and placement of the components, some boards can also be broken by only a hand tool.
- Cutting V-scores: Though not as efficient or subtle as a depaneling router, the cutter is cheap and requires little maintenance.
The information mentioned above provides a general guideline as to how you should go about arranging and breaking/cutting PCBs. A crucial part of the procedure is choosing appropriate techniques that are suitable for any given PCB array. So make sure to convey these guidelines to your designers the next time they set to work on a PCB.