What is PCB Panelization?- Introduction to PCB Panelization
PCB Panelization is a common manufacturing technique used by PCB manufacturers, where smaller boards are manufactured as individual arrays connected to make them easier to move through the assembly line. So individual boards can be removed from the array to be quickly packaged or installed in products, or the edges of the PCB can be machined around individual boards to increase the width to fit on the assembly line.
PCB Panelization requires consideration of the following design considerations.
PCB array strength: In the production process, PCBs need to find a balance between the ease of depaneling and the integrity of the array; increasing the number of boards per array, the benefit is to increase strength will be given to reduce vibration.
Component layout: This is mainly the placement of components and connectors because regardless of the words, hanging on the edge of the board components and connectors may limit the options for assembling the board. Please note that the components of SMT (surface mount technology) should be placed toward the board's edge.
Printed circuit board shape: The board's shape can make the paneling complex. Rectangular is the ideal collision, but if the board shape is too complex, alternate images from 90 ° to 180 ° can maximize the use of space on the panel. It is recommended that CAD programs can be used to put the abnormal shape of the board design into the appropriate array.
Tooling holes: Arrays and separated processing edges can provide tooling hole space for automated testing on the assembly line.
PCB panelization is one of our most important modern tools for ensuring the efficiency of PCB manufacturing. PCB panelization can not only improve PCB manufacturing efficiency and shorten delivery time but also solve many logistical problems, including how to make smaller printed circuit boards or circuit boards with unusual shapes. In PCB assembly, panelization enables manufacturers to reduce labor costs and control product quality more easily.
Panelization, also known as an array format, is used to process multiple boards while keeping them together in a single substrate, which allows PCB manufacturers to maintain high quality while reducing costs.
Two of the most common methods of panelization are V-groove panelization and breakaway tab or tab-route panelization.
V-Groove Panelization – This method involves cutting 1/3 of the board thickness from both the top and bottom with a 30- to 45-degree circular cutting blade. The remaining board is quite sturdy and is processed by a machine to avoid stress on the PCB. V-Groove panelization is used where there are no overhanging components.
Tab-Route Panelization- This method permits placing PCBs of the same or different designs together. Space is left between the perforated tabs and the traces and surface mounted parts. This reduces surface stress and avoids splintering.
Depanelization is simply removing the individual PCB from the array. Several different methods are used to depanel PCB arrays.
• Breaking by Hand – It is only appropriate for strain-resistant circuits.
• Pizza Cutter – It is used on V-grooves and is ideal for cutting very large panels into smaller ones. This method is inexpensive and low-maintenance.
• Punching – A two-part fixture can be used to punch one single PCB with higher capacity and maintenance cost.
• Depaneling Router – Single board is connected using tabs; the router bit mills out the tabs. It can cut arcs and turn at sharp angles, but the capacity is lower.
• Saw – It can perform at a high feed rate and can cut both V-grooved and non-V-grooved PCBs.
• Laser – It has low mechanical stress with precise tolerances but has higher initial capital outlay.
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