What is a PCB drill and how do they work?

PCB drills are complex pieces of machinery that are used to create printed circuit boards (PCBs). 

When creating PCBs, precision is everything. For this reason, specialist machinery is used to ensure accuracy, quality and performance. To help you understand more about the process, we’ve taken a detailed look at what PCB drilling involves and how it fits into the manufacturing process. We’ve also outlined more about the PCB drill we use here at ABL Circuits, so you can discover how precise this machinery really is. 

What is PCB drilling?

PCB drilling (which is also known as printed circuit board drilling), is the process of creating holes, slots and other cavities in an electronic circuit board.

During the PCB drilling process, a number of different hole types are drilled. These include via holes (such as thru-holes, buried holes, blind holes and micro-holes), component holes and mechanical holes.

Due to the precision required, holes are usually carved out using a manual or laser PCB drill. Boards can also be fed into a drilling rig manually or automatically. Here at ABL Circuits, our drill has a laser-detect function. This ensures both concentricity and correct bit diameter (0.1mm-6.5mm), even when unmanned.

What stage of the manufacturing process is it?

Drilling is the most expensive and time-consuming part of the circuit board manufacturing process. This is because the process must be carried out exactly to ensure the highest possible levels of quality. 

The process of manufacturing a printed circuit board is complex and contains 20 key steps. Generally, drilling is towards the start of this process, after the raw materials for the substrate have been cut to size and the required thickness of the PCB has been established.

After the substrate has been prepared for drilling, tooling pins are inserted and are used to hold the board while it’s in the pre-programmed computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine. Then, the component mounting holes are drilled in the PCB before the boards are split and measured for accuracy. Finally, a conveyorised polisher scrubs the surface of the copper clean to remove any small burrs or rough edges.

When the PCB has passed quality control inspections, the drilling process is concluded and the rest of the manufacturing process begins.

What machine do we use at ABL and how accurate is it?

Here at ABL Circuits, we used the DRB 610 1+1 Series PCB drilling machine. When it comes to drilling PCBs, accuracy is everything. Thankfully, the DRB 610 1+1 Series PCB drilling machine is accurate to 0.0005mm. To put that into perspective, the average human hair is roughly 0.0254mm, which is around 50 times larger!

How does it work?

The DRB 610 1+1 Series PCB drilling machine is part of a redesigned and reimagined product line from Lenz. As a result, it offers class-leading accuracy and speed.

Thanks to pressure foot technology, a telescopic loading system and a CCD camera system, precision is guaranteed. Plus, the DRB 610 1+1 Series PCB drilling machine also benefits from depth-controlled drilling and routing, a laser tool measurement system and a state-of-the-art controller by Sieb & Meyer.

One of the great benefits of this machine is that it also allows us to perform dry runs. This means that we can eliminate errors at an early stage. Plus, the machine’s ‘pattern selection’ functionality allows for repeats. This means production and set-up costs can be minimised.

Take a look at our PCB drill in action:

How can you get started with ABL?

Here at ABL Circuits, we’ve offered a state-of-the-art PCB manufacturing service for more than 30 years. We have refined our processes to ensure we can offer the highest quality PCB products in the shortest possible time.

Due to our expertise, we’re able to offer a wide range of PCB services that meet bespoke design, manufacture and assembly requirements. If you’re unsure about exactly what you need or you’d like to speak to a member of the team, then please do not hesitate to get in touch. As well as filling in our contact form, you can call us on 01462 417400 or email sales@ablcircuits.co.uk.

Book a free quote today!

Ready to get started? Book a free quote today. If you know detailed information about the PCB services you require, then fill in the additional fields to help us understand your requirements further.