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We first have to analyze all the blocks there are from the received PCB files till the final product is shipped. In the photo we can see 18 different steps that are necesary for the amazing final product. The process is amazing and very interesting and requires a lot of high tecnology for the best precision.
Let's start from the begginning and see it step by step. The first block is when the factory receives a new order with the files that have to be printed. This step is called pre-production.
Customer supplied data (gerber) is used to produce the manufacturing data for the specific PCB (artworks for imaging processes and drill data for drilling programs). Engineers compare demands/specifications against capabilities to ensure compliance and also determine the process steps and associated checks. No changes are allowed without PCBWay Group permission.
The files received are usually gerbers containing the data for each layer, for the copper outline, silkscreen, where there are vias or any holes. Below we have an example of the layout of a board. The gerbers for this board contain all the data necesary for print.
02.Preparing the phototools
Artwork Master is PCB production in the key steps, which directly affect the quality of the final product quality,An accurately scaled configuration of electronic data used to produce the artwork master or production master. Artwork Master – The photographic image of the PCB pattern on film used to produce the circuit board, usually on a 1:1 scale.In general, there are three types of Artwork Master:(1) Conductive Pattern (2) solder mask (3) Silkscreen
03.Print inner layers
Stage 1 is to transfer the image using an artwork film to the board surface, using photosensitive dry-film and UV light, which will polymerise the dry film exposed by the artwork.
This step of the process is performed in a clean room.
Imaging – The process of transferring electronic data to the photo-plotter, which in turn uses light to transfer a negative image circuitry pattern onto the panel or film.
04.Etch inner layers
Stage 2 is to remove the unwanted copper from the panel using etching. Once this copper has been removed, the remaining dry film is then removed leaving behind the copper circuitry that matches the design.
Etching – The chemical, or chemical and electrolytic, removal of unwanted portions of conductive or resistive material.
06.Lay-up and bond (Lamination)
The inner layers have an oxide layer applied and then “stacked” together with pre-preg providing insulation between layers and copper foil is added to the top and bottom of the stack. The lamination process consists of placing the internal layers under extreme temperature (375 degrees Fahrenheit) and pressure (275 to 400 psi) while laminating with a photosensitive dry resist. The PCB is allowed to cure at a high temperature, the pressure is slowly released and then the material is slowly cooled.
07.Drilling the PCB
We now have to drill the holes that will subsequently create electrical connections within the multilayer PCB. This is a mechanical drilling process that must be optimised so that we can achieve registration to all of the the inner layer connections. The panels can be stacked at this process. The drilling can also be done by a laser drill
Some more steps
From now, some electroless copper is added to the board and then the board is plated. Finally the soldermask is added with the desired color (green, yellow, etc) and final inspection. Once the PCB is ready it is shipped to the costumers.
Boards are wrapped using materials that comply with the PCBWay Packaging demands (ESD etcetera) and then boxed prior to be being shipped using the requested mode of transport.