PCBs or printed circuit boards are everywhere around us and they are the most important component of every electronic device. We know them to be simple units that can be placed anywhere from our remotes to our microwaves and phones to make them function. Most of us believe that the whole process is extremely easy and that even most of us can just soldier components on a board. If you have ever wondered what this process exactly is, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we are going to give you some basic information about what the assembly means, how long does it take to assemble a circuit board, and we will also tell you some of the round costs that come with the manufacturing.
What is the process?
The first thing that we are going to talk about is the assembly process and what it takes for one board to be manufactured.
The first step of the process is designing the board and acquiring the needed materials, and after the basics are done and all the components are present, then the actual process can begin.
It starts with applying soldering paste to the board itself using a stencil so that there are no leaks and the paste does not go in any other places except where the soldering needs to happen. Once that is done the unit is taken to an assembly machine where a process called pick and place happens. The components are placed on the unit and the next process is reflow soldering where the board slowly becomes what we know a circuit board to be.
Keep in mind that during the final process, the boards are placed in conveyor belts that run through heated ovens where all the components combine and solder together.
The final process of the step is quality control of the assembly and this can be done automatically, but it is also inspected manually so that employees can check if all the boards look like they should and are also tested to check if they are working. There are three main inspection stages before the board can be released for selling.
Note that all these steps are simplified here and all of them consist of many other steps that allow for the board to be properly designed, stenciled, soldiered, and for all components to be placed and mounted properly.
Depending on the type of board that is being manufactured there might be some additional steps to ensure the success of the process.
How long does it take?
Now that you know more about the assembly process, you can see that it is not as simple as some people may think it is. We know that circuit boards are everywhere around us, and some may believe that because they are everywhere, they should be manufactured within one day or just a few hours.
In reality, the whole process depends on many things, starting from the materials that are chosen for that exact board, their availability as well as the complexity of the whole unit.
It is said that for the simplest units, the manufacturers usually need about 3 to 5 days to get the board ready, inspected, and packed for shipping. When it comes to units that are far more complex, with many layers, and that have special features, the process may take up to two weeks.
You should always take your time and read more about the whole process and how the type of assembly is going to affect the time needed. Keep in mind that some factories use more advanced equipment that allows them to go through the stages faster, but there are stages that cannot be rushed no matter how good the equipment is.
If you want to have exact information on what you should expect and what is the fastest time that you can get your products, the best thing you can do is talk to the manufacturer and ask them for information depending on your specific order.
How much does it cost?
The last thing we are going to talk about is the costs for assembly. You should know that there are many factors that are going to add or subtract from the price, so there is not an exact number that you should expect.
In most cases, when it comes to the simplest boards that don’t require any special or complex features, and that can be finished within a day, the price should be around 10 dollars. For those boards that are far more complex and that are made with special materials, the price can go as high as 50 dollars per board.
Another thing that you should keep in mind is that the technology is constantly changing, these units are made to be far more durable and complex, plus there are manufacturers that specialize only in specific types of boards that may be more expensive than the rest.
Know that the assembly and manufacturing prices are different from the market prices, and just because something can be assembled for 10 dollars, it does not mean that it is going to cost that much when it reaches the stores.
In case you need to purchase them in bulk, then the best thing you can do is talk to the manufacturer and see if there is a difference in price for buying a lot of units. Make sure you get quotes from different suppliers so you have an idea of how much you would need to spend based on the specific requirements that you have.
As you can see the production process varies depending on the type of board that you have chosen, and in most cases, the board should be finished within several days. Once you place the order, you should be able to get your units within two to three weeks, but that all depends on your location, shipping time, as well as the manufacturer. For exact information, it is always best to have a meeting with the supplier so that you don’t have one expectation and then turn out to be disappointed.