The PCB Assembly Process and What You Should Know

Within every single electronic device used today, there’s a printed circuit board (PCB) that makes it operate. The PCB is the heart of electronic devices, whether we’re talking about smart speakers for the home, your new intelligent thermostat, or the digital speedometer in your car. Of course, creating functional electronic devices requires much more than just throwing together a bunch of components and resistors.

The PCB assembly process is critical to get right the first time. A single misstep here could result in malfunctions, lack of functionality, or even the threat of accidents. In this post, we’ll cover some of the most important PCB assembly process steps and what you should know.

It’s Not Board Manufacturing

First and foremost, understand that the PCB assembly process takes place during a specific time in the development of an electronic device. It’s not about manufacturing – that happens first. For instance, at Advanced Circuits, we’ll manufacture the board itself, including all the required layers, creating the traces, and all the other important steps, and then work on PCB assembly.

In short, PCB assembly is the process of bringing everything together into one place and creating something functional out of multiple components. It’s taking that newly manufactured board, adding components and resistors, and then making sure it does what it is intended to do.

Understand the PCB Assembly Technologies

Assembling a printed circuit board requires more than just the raw components and a well-designed board. It also requires the right technology. In this case, there are several options to choose from, and each brings something different to the table. For instance, there’s surface mount technology (SMT), as well as manual soldering, and the use of pick and place machines.

While some PCB assembly processes will require just one technology, others will require a combination of two or more technologies. For example, many boards require the combination of through-hole technology (THT) and surface mount technology. Understanding when, where, and how to integrate those technologies is a critical consideration when choosing a company to handle your project or production.

It’s also important to understand that the PCB assembly steps involved with the various technologies differ, as well. Below, we’ve outlined some basic steps involved, as well as how they differ from technology to technology.