Preparing a PCB for mounting is one of the most important processes of making an electronic device. Without it, you will not be able to do anything with the board. There are four different methods on PCB fabrication. This includes etching, direct plating, copper removal, and send out. Each one of them has an elaborate process to follow so it is best to have a brief knowledge about these methods, especially if you are planning to make an electronic project.
This method is the simplest one. It is also the lowest costing method because it only requires several materials in order to effectively make a PCB. In this method, a certain chemical is used to erode unneeded conductor surface, usually cooper. Removing the unneeded copper surface is important because it prevent circuit problems. The most common problem in electronics is short-circuiting devices, and it stops the device from functioning.
In this method of PCB fabrication, you mask the portions of the copper surface that you want to remain. You can do this by using different chemical resistant materials to draw the design of the schematic diagram. For the chemicals, you can use either ferric Chloride or Ammonium Persulphate.
Ferric Chloride is one of the most effective chemicals. It is also the strongest chemical to use. However, you should be careful while using this. You need to be in an environment in which your prized metal possessions are out of reach because it eats any metals. It is also messy as it stains surfaces and clothes. The most ideal type of Ferric Chloride is the hexahydrate. It can be bought in the form of granules. The way to use it is to dissolve the granules in warm water.
Ammonium Persulphate is another chemical specifically used for corroding copper surfaces. This way, your other metal items would not be eaten by the chemical. It is the most efficient and advisable material to use in etching because it does not stain, it rises quickly, and etches rapidly. However, once this solution has been mixed, it needs to be used within 3 weeks. You should be also careful of materials made of cotton, wool, linen, and other natural fibers because it can destroy those.
2. Direct Plating
This method is used in big manufacturing sites. It needs the use of heavy-duty machines. Because of this, it is more ideal in factories due to the price.
3. Copper Removal
This is another method of PCB fabrication that is very expensive. A cutter plotter and PCB layout software is utilized in order to directly imprint the needed copper connections on the board. This technique is very slow and is commonly used in making prototypes of newly designed gadgets.
4. Send Out
This method is the fastest. This way, you design a schematic diagram on a digital device. The data is then sent out to a PCB fabrication company. However, you need to make sure that the data include all necessary information such as the layout, drawings, and specifications. You must also know the requirements that the chosen company (or Board House) imposes.
This method is hassle free on the part of the sender. It is the most ideal for mass production as the manufacturers handle the fabrication in a fast and easy way. However, if you want to order several pieces, it is not the advised method because it will cost you more. A minimum quantity should be reached before you could place an order.
Despite it being expensive, the send out method results to high quality, professional PCBs that you can develop into a more elaborate device.