10 most FAQs
The visual appearance of printed circuit boards is often important, particularly when the PCB will be on display in lighting, hi-fi equipment or consumer electronics devices. We have therefore selected a range of board colours to include:
Green, Blue, Black, Red and White.
Printed circuit boards are used in a variety of electronic products and therefore can be manufactured in a number of sizes. Board sizes vary, dependent on customer requirements with the smallest board that we have made being only 5mm square, for a miniature medical device.
We make panels to suit your requirements, ranging from 5mm square through to 450 x 300mm (18 x 12 inches), which is the largest size panel we can produce in-house, as standard, which has a useable area of 17 x 11 inches.
We also work with a number of reliable partners that make much larger boards if required.
For the assembly process, some machines have a minimum limit to the size of PCB they can handle. For most sizes of circuit board we therefore supply panels with an array of several PCBs left in the panel, either by scoring or routing out with pips. Both options have the benefit of aiding production assembly, as there is far less handling and the boards on the panels are more suitable for assembly equipment.
To enable PCBs to be removed from the panel following assembly, we will either:
- score a ‘V’ shaped groove in both sides of the panel, leaving a thin section of substrate, or
- routed out, leaving pips in place, to hold the circuits in place in the panel. The outline is routed out and the boards are then snapped out after assembly
If copper is left unprotected, it oxidises and becomes unusable. The finish which is applied to protect the copper also primes the PCB surface on the pads, ready for soldering.
As standard, we use HASL (Hot Air Solder Leveling). The PCBs are immersed in molten tin alloy and the HASL machine removes the excess with a blast of hot air, leaving the surface mount pads perfectly flat for soldering and all the plated through holes clean for assembly. It is also lead-free and compliant with RoHS requirements
The other PCB coatings we offer to special requirement are Electroless Nickel Immersion Gold (ENIG) and Immersion Silver.
By manufacturing in the UK and investing in our PCB production process, we are able to offer an express, same-day service for your urgent prototypes. This means your manufactured PCBs can be ready within 8 hours from start to finish, from receipt of Gerber files.
Our standard lead time is 5 days – one of the fastest in the UK.
Photographic film (referred to as photoplots) used in the production of PCBs, requires Gerber files. These can either be supplied by yourselves or we can produce these based on your circuit diagram and component list, by providing a CAD layout in house. We can also design PCBs based on existing circuit boards or historic designs. We have a strong reputation for reverse engineered printed circuit boards too.
Tooling holes are very accurately punched at either end of each film. These locate with the drill pattern on a tooling system so that everything lines up exactly for the CNC drilling operation.