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12 Basic Steps for Manufacturing Printed Circuit Boards

1.  Setup

This involves determining the materials, processes, and requirements needed for the production of the board based on the customer’s requirement provided on the Gerber file.

2.  Imaging

This involves transferring the Gerber file data into a layer on the etch resist film and then placed on the copper layer.

3.  Etching

This involves exposing the copper and other unprotected areas by the etch resist film to laser/plasma in order to remove the unprotected copper. This leaves the protected copper pads and traces intact. Chemicals are traditionally used instead of the modern laser technique.

4.    Multilayer Pressing

This involves arranging the conductive copper and insulating dielectric layers before pressing them together under heat to activate the adhesive in the dielectric layers to form a solid board material.

5.    Drilling

This involves drilling holes for plated-through purposes.

6.    Plating

This involves applying copper plating to the pads, traces, and the holes that are to be plated through.

7.    Second Drilling

This involves drilling secondary holes that are not to be plated through. This step usually adds costs to the finished boards.

8.    Masking

This involves the application of protective masking material on the bare copper traces. The solder mask is the commonly-used cover. This helps to protect against solder shorts and environmental damages while providing insulation as well.

9.    Finishing

This involves coating the pads with a thin layer of solder to prepare the board for soldering that will occur after all the components are in place.

10.  Silk Screening

This involves the application of markings for the purpose of identification and designations.

11.  Quality Control

This involves the visual inspection of the board for any form of deficiency and quality control.

12.  Electrical Testing

This involves checking and verifying the flow of electric signals from one point to the other on the board. This process usually requires special test apparatus or programs.

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