In the world of engineering, costs can rack up pretty quickly. Plans fail to account for a variable, or some estimates may prove to be very underestimated. It can be a struggle to find cost-saving methods.
Some PCB manufacturing services offer a process that will help you! This is where PCB Panelization comes in play.
PCB is a printed circuit board, and the panelization process is printing multiple of those circuit boards onto one big board for the depanelization process.
It’s a vastly more efficient process, but it does come with its stipulations.
When to use PCB Panelization
Using the panelization method can protect the product during assembly, and it can easily be mass produced. An automatic line can beat 50 hand solder operators with better quality and quantity, meaning more money in your pocket.
The shape of the PCB is recommended to be a rectangle, as that is the least complicated. If it can’t be avoided, then it is suggested to use alternating images on an array. This can be done with many CAD programs
It’s much faster, and it’s more efficient. The cost per panel is reduced by a wide margin!
A Design Step?
Some engineers recommend having PCB Panelization be a design step. They say it helps prevent waste during the depanelization process, and it can increase the yield per array.
It can take a while to find the best possible layout, and including it in the design process can help change it for the better.
On the other hand, others say that it can be a waste of time. The PCB can change from time to time, which may mess up how the array looks in CAD — meaning that you would have to spend more time on that part of the process.
For them, it’s best to create the array when they need it for panelization.
In the depanelization process, rectangles are much more easy to cut out than odd shapes. It has less waste, and it has the highest yield.
The panel can be cut down to smaller boards, which is how the PCB is mass-produced. With the amount of time it takes to create each panel, having more boards means it can be much more efficient.
This can be done during as part of the PCB manufacturing services, or you can do it yourself.
Where to find a fabricator
You can find many fabricators on the internet if you search up PCB panelization. Many offer PCB manufacturing services. They can also help with PCB board assembly, custom PCB, and PCB prototyping. They will even give you a PCB assembly quote to help you account for it in your plans.
Each fabricator has their own ruleset when dealing with PCB panelization, so you’ll have to call them up and get their recommended specifications.