Printed circuit boards (PCBs) play a major role in almost every piece of electronic equipment on Earth. A PCB impacts the overall performance of a device, affecting its reliability, longevity and the speed at which information is transmitted and processed. This is why every PCB should be designed and manufactured by a team with experience producing boards for use in all different types of industries, appliances, devices and machinery.

There are many aspects to PCB production, including design, fabrication, component selection and placement, soldering, inspection, and testing. Each part of this process is arguably as important as the rest, so expertise, experience and attention to detail are vital throughout.

In this article, we’re going to explore just why experience matters throughout the PCB production process, and why you should consider a team of skilled and knowledgeable professionals to fulfil your PCB needs.

Understanding PCB assembly

The PCB was invented more than 120 years ago by German inventor Albert Hanson, and for more than a century the technology has continued to evolve so they’re smaller, more powerful, more reliable and faster. Every year, new advancements are made that make PCBs more complex and precise so they can last longer, and perform better and more reliably no matter the application or environment.

PCB assembly is a long process with many stages, the basics of which usually follow a process that looks a little like this:

  1. The PCB is designed using a block diagram made in CAD software
  2. Fabrication of the bare board begins, with copper traces etched onto a non-conductive substrate
  3. Components are selected based on the requirements of the PCB
  4. The components are placed on the board using techniques such as surface mount technology (SMT) and through-hole technology (THT)
  5. The components are soldered to the board using techniques appropriate for how and where the board will operate
  6. The board is thoroughly inspected to identify any potential issues and ensure production is of a high quality
  7. The PCB is tested to make sure it works correctly and as intended, which can involve functional testing, electrical testing and potentially the programming of any software or firmware that may be embedded in the board.

The value of experience

Designing and assembling a PCB is part art and part science, and like all good art and science, those with experience are likely to be the ones producing the most revered results.

Of course, learning the history and theory around PCB assembly is important, but a huge part of the process is learning through experience. This ensures professionals can tackle problems before they arise, and produce PCBs that are long-lasting and reliable. Some problems can be solvable through tried and tested solutions, but some require the skills, knowledge and intuition that only experienced engineers can provide.

Not only can the final product be more dependable, but with experience also comes speed. Not only from a design and manufacturing point of view, but also from the reduced downtime and problems identified during inspection and testing. And this not only saves time, but also money.

Navigating technological advances

PCB design and manufacturing is an industry that’s been in place for more than a century, but that doesn’t mean the ceiling for advancements has been reached – far from it. PCB manufacturing is a multi-billion dollar industry, and advancements are made regularly as other technologies also continue to develop. For example, it might soon be possible to 3D print electronics and there’s likely to be further improvements when it comes to flexible PCBs. Any experienced PCB manufacturer worth their salt will keep a close eye on new and developing technologies, processes, designs… the list goes on. And it’s this experience that lends itself well to professionals embracing change, with flexibility and adaptability needed for designing and assembling PCBs for use in any scenario.

Training and knowledge transfer

A quote from the Dalai Lama says, Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality, and experienced professionals in the PCB industry certainly live by this. Students and new professionals routinely enter the industry looking for guidance and mentorship, and the handing down of knowledge is what helps the industry grow. This doesn’t only apply to the design and manufacturing of PCBs, but also when it comes to safety and compliance, the search for innovations, building a sense of community and career development. Each of these allows for the sharing of knowledge and the ability to produce a better product for clients and customers.

Experience, client trust and cost

Choosing the best company to fulfil your PCB needs can be a tricky balancing act. Of course, you want a premium product but you probably don’t want to pay premium prices. Sometimes it can be a toss-up between which is more important to you – quality or cost. If it’s cost, you might choose a new or inexperienced vendor, who could design and assemble a high-quality PCB, but it’s a risk. What if you encounter issues down the line that cost you more in the long run?

With a seasoned professional, you’re more likely to feel the reassurance that comes with years of experience. Yes, the cost may be a little more than it would be if you went with the new kids on the block, but not all experienced professionals are expensive. Remember, experience means the process is shorter and more reliable, and this is reflected in the cost. You might be surprised at just how affordable experienced and high-quality PCB assembly services can be. Get in touch with us here at ABL Circuits and we can tell you about how our 30 years of experience can deliver the results you need.

Choosing the right PCB assembly partner

PCBs are a critical part of a device. Without them, kettles wouldn’t boil, cars wouldn’t start and spacecraft wouldn’t leave the launchpad. And possibly more importantly, PCBs need to be reliable and have longevity to ensure those spacecraft can make a safe return to Earth.

Only with an experienced PCB solution can you have a PCB you can trust. Of course, it can be tough to find the right partner for you. You need a balance of experience, affordability, flexibility and time.

At ABL Circuits, we have more than three decades of proven experience, building boards for businesses in a wide range of industries, including aerospace, automotive, energy, healthcare and the military. That means we’re trusted to produce high-performing, long-lasting and reliable PCBs for use in even the harshest environments.

Want to find out more? Get a free trial today and enhance your product with ABL Circuits.