Fabricated boards heading to an automated PCB assembly process

The Automated PCB Assembly Process Flow Chart

The value placed on individual craftsmanship and style is high and well deserved. For instance, who would not want an original Renoir or van Gogh hanging over the mantle? However, a much wider group of users is the target of most production today which requires unwavering consistency.

This is true for electronic circuit boards utilized in an ever-growing number of applications across critical industries like aerospace, medical devices, and automotive systems. However, some board assembly processes still rely on work done by hand, which can create uncertainty at this stage of manufacturing. Fortunately, a data-driven and software-based alternative follows an automated PCB assembly process flow chart and can significantly improve quality and reliability.

The Typical PCB Assembly Process

In addition to fabrication, PCB assembly is one of the primary stages of circuit board manufacturing. And for turnkey board manufacturing, the service includes component procurement. is also included. The PCBA process is likely the most important of the three since it is the last time boards are reviewed, tested, and validated before shipment. That said, working with a CM that performs assembly in-house can be advantageous.

Since the mid-1950s, circuit board assembly has utilized an automated soldering technique with most steps completed by machines and other equipment to improve efficiency. Yet, many CMs continue to rely on engineers, technicians, and others to set the level of quality and reliability for the boards they produce. This level can vary depending on the experience and expertise of personnel on the assembly floor. For example, if key staff happen to be absent on the day your boards are produced, quality may suffer. More importantly, automation can virtually eliminate the possibility of human error as programmed machines can create boards exactly as stipulated in the design data file.

By optimizing the assembly of your PCBs, though, you can leverage the benefits of an automated PCB assembly process.

Advantages of an Automated PCB Assembly Process

As humans, one of our greatest strengths is our adaptability. We excel at identifying limitations and constraints and devising ways to overcome them. Automated PCB assembly is a prime example of overcoming the limitations of a manual process.

The Automated PCB Assembly Process Flowchart

The PCB assembly process consists of a set of well-defined steps:

PCB assembly process flowchart

The flowchart outlined above illustrates the basic steps of a PCB assembly process; although, the exact steps and order may vary slightly for different CMs. For advanced CMs, automation dominates the process like an assembly line, where boards move from step to step without the need for human transport and placement. This automation can dramatically improve the speed of assembly and overall quality since each board build is identical.

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By utilizing software and digital twins, the automated PCB assembly process can be further enhanced. A digital twin is a predefined image of what the board should look like based on the design file information provided by the developer or designer and can be used to program the PCB assembly process equipment. Therefore, error detection is faster and corrected quickly to save time and costs. This added risk management benefit results in a more efficient process and right first time (RFT) board builds to improve your ROI.

[1] Image from Bittle Electronics at https://www.7pcb.com/PCB-Assembly-Process.php.

Tempo’s Software-Driven Smart Factory Delivers the Industry’s Leading Custom Turnkey PCBA Manufacturing Services
  • Virtual PCBA Contract manufacturing.
  • Rapid, accurate quotes.
  • DFM support from Day 1 of design.
  • Digital Thread Processing with real-time monitoring.
  • Fastest turnaround times in the industry to maximize ROI.
  • QC certified Agile Manufacturing process to support risk management.
  • Standard and Advanced QC testing.
  • Worry-free supply chain continuity.
  • Specialization in rapid prototyping and low-volume production.
  • PCBA development optimization for complex critical system industries like Aerospace, Medical Devices, Automotive, and Industrial.

Tempo Automation, the industry leader in fast prototyping and on-demand PCBA manufacturing, employs a software-based digital thread process that leverages the advantages of automation to produce the high-quality boards your project deserves.

And to help you get started on the best path, we furnish information for your DFM checks and enable you to easily view and download DRC files. If you’re an Altium Designer or Cadence Allegro user, you can simply add these files to your PCB design software. For Mentor Pads or other design packages, we furnish DRC information in other CAD formats and Excel.

If you are ready to have your design manufactured, try our quote tool to upload your CAD and BOM files. If you want more information on the PCB assembly process flow chart, contact us.

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