8 July 2022
Today’s PCBs consist of four layers, the lowest being a fiberglass substrate that provides support to the board. On top of it lies the conductive copper foil or coating. A solder mask protects the copper layer, and a silkscreen forms the layer right on top. The main stages in the making of a PCB are listed below:
Circuit design: The circuit design is prepared as per the requirements, usually in the form of Gerber files.
CAM design: In this stage, the circuit design is processed for production. CAM reviews the files, verifies the order parameters, performs engineering reviews, creates the tools and sequences necessary for design, and queues the orders for manufacturing.
PCB manufacturing: Subsequent to CAM design, the necessary tracks are created on the board, and the excess copper is removed. The board area not to be soldered is protected with a layer of polymer resist, and the remaining areas are plated with solder, allowing for the easier mounting of components.
Component placing: Components may be placed on the board in two ways. In through-hole mounting, the leads of the components are inserted into the holes in the PCB. In surface-mount technology (SMT), the component is mounted onto the surface of the PCB.
Soldering and testing: Whether the components are placed by through-hole or surface mounting, they are soldered onto the PCB. Finally, a number of electrical tests are carried out on the PCB to ensure that it is running as expected.
The three types of soldering are wave, reflow and selective. Wave soldering is the preferred technique for soldering through-hole components. Reflow soldering is the most common technique in PCB manufacturing and lends itself to soldering SMT components. Selective soldering is an automated alternative to hand soldering and is preferred in cases where the tight spacing of components is required.
Soldering in an inert atmosphere (notably nitrogen) has become increasingly popular in recent times. The advantages are clear. Soldering in an atmosphere of high-purity nitrogen reduces oxidization and improves the flow properties of solder as well as the spreading behavior and wettability of solder, all of which contribute to high-quality solder connections.
An on-site nitrogen generator not only gives you control over the air purity required for soldering purposes (which is critical in ensuring appropriate solder spreading behavior at lower temperatures) but also reduces your operating costs (as compared to third-party supply) and ensures you have a constant flow of nitrogen gas when downtime can interrupt production.
Generating nitrogen on your own with an on-site nitrogen generator allows safer handling and ensures a lower carbon footprint. Additionally, on-site nitrogen generators, such as those from Pneumatech, are easy to integrate into existing systems.
Pneumatech designs and manufactures both standard and engineered on-site gas generator products. Explore Pneumatech’s full range of nitrogen generators. Or get in touch with us right away.