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.