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PCB/PCBA knowledge
Terms related to the PCB, PCBA and SMT

PCBs, PCBA, and SMT are integral to the manufacturing and functionality of countless electronic devices, ranging from consumer electronics to complex industrial systems, ensuring the efficient and reliable operation of modern technology. The following are the terms related to PCB, PCBA and SMT.

Table of Contents

Printed Circuit Board (PCB)

A Printed Circuit Board, commonly known as a PCB, is a foundational component in electronic devices. It serves as a platform to mechanically support and electrically connect electronic components using conductive pathways, tracks, and pads etched or printed onto a non-conductive substrate.

PCBs are crucial in modern electronics due to their ability to provide a compact, organized, and reliable means of interconnecting various electronic components. They come in single-sided, double-sided, or multi-layered configurations, accommodating diverse designs and functionalities.

PCB (Printed Circuit Board): A board made of insulating material with conductive pathways to support and connect electronic components.
PCB substrate: The base material (usually fiberglass or composite) of a PCB where copper traces are etched.
Copper Foil: Thin layers of copper bonded to the substrate to create conductive pathways.
SMD (Surface Mount Device): Electronic components designed to be soldered onto the surface of a PCB.
PTH (Plated Through-Hole): Holes in a PCB lined with conductive material to connect layers.
Via: Plated-through holes that connect conductive layers in a multilayer PCB.
Pad: A portion of a PCB where a component lead is attached.
Trace: Conductive pathways on a PCB that connect components.
Solder Mask: A protective layer applied over the copper traces to prevent short circuits during soldering.
Silkscreen: A layer of ink on a PCB used for labeling components and indicators.
Annular Ring: The copper area around a hole in a PCB.
Gerber File: A standard file format used in PCB fabrication for design data.
BGA (Ball Grid Array): A type of surface mount package where solder balls are arranged in a grid.
Impedance: Resistance to alternating current in a circuit, crucial for high-frequency applications.
Crosstalk: Interference caused by signals from adjacent traces on a PCB.
Ground Plane: A layer of copper in a PCB dedicated to providing a low-resistance path to ground.
Stack-Up: The arrangement of layers in a multilayer PCB.
Flex PCB: Flexible printed circuit boards designed for applications requiring flexibility.
Rigid-Flex PCB: PCBs with both rigid and flexible areas in one board.
Differential Pair: A pair of traces that carry equal and opposite signals for noise reduction.
NPTH (Non-Plated Through-Hole): Holes in a PCB without conductive lining.
Thermal Relief: Copper connections designed to reduce heat during soldering.
Panelization: The process of grouping multiple PCBs on a single panel for manufacturing.
ETL (Electrical Test): A test performed to verify the electrical connectivity of a PCB.
Drill File: A file that contains information about the placement of holes on a PCB.
Blind Via: A via connecting an outer layer to an inner layer in a multilayer PCB.
Buried Via: A via connecting inner layers of a multilayer PCB without reaching the outer layers.
Component Footprint: The physical layout of a component on a PCB.
ESD (Electrostatic Discharge): A sudden flow of electricity between two electrically charged objects.
Fiducial Mark: Reference points used for aligning and inspecting a PCB during assembly.
These terms cover various aspects of PCB design, fabrication, and assembly.

Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA)

PCB Assembly (PCBA) involves the process of assembling electronic components onto a PCB to create a functional circuit board. This process includes mounting and soldering components onto the board, which can be achieved through various methods such as Surface Mount Technology (SMT) and Through-Hole Technology (THT).

PCBA encompasses multiple stages, from the procurement of components to assembly, inspection, and testing, ensuring the final product meets quality standards and functional requirements.

Here’s an extensive list of terms and terminologies associated with Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA):

SMT (Surface Mount Technology): A method for assembling electronic components directly onto the surface of a PCB.
THT (Through-Hole Technology): A method involving components inserted into drilled holes on the PCB and soldered on the opposite side.
PCB Assembly: The process of attaching electronic components to a PCB to create a functional electronic circuit.
Pick and Place: An automated process that accurately places surface mount components onto a PCB.
Stencil: A metal or polymer sheet used to apply solder paste onto a PCB before component placement.
Reflow Soldering: Heating solder paste to melt and form connections between components and the PCB.
Wave Soldering: A method where the PCB is passed over a wave of molten solder to solder through-hole components.
Component Lead: The metal wire or leg of a component used for connection on a PCB.
Component Footprint: The physical space occupied by a component on a PCB.
Solder Paste: A mixture of solder and flux used to attach components to PCBs.
Stencil Thickness: The thickness of the stencil used for applying solder paste on the PCB.
AOI (Automated Optical Inspection): Using automated systems with cameras to inspect PCBs for defects.
ICT (In-Circuit Test): A method to check the functionality of individual components and overall circuit performance.
Functional Testing: Testing the final assembled PCB to verify that it functions as intended.
Flying Probe Test: A method using probes to test electrical connections and integrity on a PCB.
BOM (Bill of Materials): A list detailing all components required for assembling a PCB.
DFT (Design for Testability): Designing a PCB to ensure easy testing and troubleshooting during assembly.
ESD (Electrostatic Discharge): A sudden flow of electricity between two electrically charged objects, potentially damaging components.
PCB Panelization: Arranging multiple PCBs on a panel for simultaneous assembly to optimize manufacturing efficiency.
X-ray Inspection: Using X-rays to inspect the internal quality and connections of components on a PCB.
Test Jig: A tool or fixture used to facilitate electrical testing of assembled PCBs.
Fiducial Mark: Reference points on a PCB used for accurate component placement during assembly.
Stencil Alignment: Ensuring proper alignment of the stencil for accurate solder paste application.
Component Orientation: The correct positioning of components on a PCB concerning polarity, direction, etc.
DRC (Design Rule Check): Verifying that the PCB design adheres to specified design rules and constraints.
ESD Protection: Measures taken to prevent damage from electrostatic discharge during assembly.
Solder Joint: The connection formed between a component lead and a PCB pad by soldering.
Thermal Profile: The temperature profile used during reflow soldering to ensure proper solder melting and connection.
PCBA Cleaning: The process of removing flux residues and contaminants from assembled PCBs.
Conformal Coating: Applying a protective layer on the PCB surface to shield it from moisture, dust, or chemical exposure.
These terms cover various aspects of the PCB assembly process, from components and techniques to quality control and testing methods.

Surface Mount Technology (SMT)

Surface Mount Technology (SMT) is a widely-used method for mounting and soldering electronic components directly onto the surface of a PCB. SMT components, known as Surface Mount Devices (SMDs), have small, flat leads or terminals designed for direct attachment to the PCB’s surface.

SMT offers several advantages over traditional Through-Hole Technology (THT), including smaller component sizes, increased component density, improved efficiency in assembly, and better electrical performance due to shorter signal paths.

The SMT process involves stencil-based solder paste application, precise component placement using automated pick-and-place machines, and reflow soldering to melt the solder paste and create secure connections between components and the PCB.

Here’s a comprehensive list of terms and terminologies associated with Surface Mount Technology (SMT):

Surface Mount Technology (SMT): A method of electronic component mounting directly onto the surface of a PCB.
SMD (Surface Mount Device): Electronic components designed for SMT, characterized by flat leads or terminals.
SMT Assembly: The process of placing and soldering SMDs onto a PCB.
Pick and Place Machine: Automated equipment used to pick up and accurately place SMDs onto a PCB.
Stencil: A metal or polymer sheet with openings used to apply solder paste onto a PCB.
Solder Paste: A mixture of solder particles and flux used to temporarily attach SMDs to PCB pads.
Reflow Soldering: The process of heating the solder paste to melt and form connections between SMDs and the PCB.
Solder Mask: A protective layer applied over the copper traces on the PCB to prevent solder bridges and short circuits.
Pad: The area on a PCB surface where an SMD is attached and soldered.
Land: The surface area on a PCB pad designated for component attachment.
Tombstone Effect: When one end of a component lifts off the PCB during reflow, resembling a tombstone.
Filleting: The formation of solder fillets around the leads of SMDs after soldering.
IPC Standards: Industry standards set by the Association Connecting Electronics Industries (IPC) for SMT processes.
Hot Air Rework Station: A tool used for manually removing or reworking SMDs on a PCB by applying controlled heat.
CSP (Chip-Scale Package): A type of SMD with no leads, and the package size is approximately the same as the die inside.
QFP (Quad Flat Package): An SMD with gull-wing-shaped leads on all four sides.
BGA (Ball Grid Array): An SMD with solder balls arranged in a grid on the bottom for connections.
LGA (Land Grid Array): Similar to BGA but uses lands instead of balls for connections.
Solder Bridge: Accidental connection of adjacent solder pads due to excess solder.
Stencil Thickness: The thickness of the stencil used for applying solder paste onto the PCB.
Stenciling: The process of applying solder paste onto the PCB through the openings of the stencil.
Squeegee: A tool used to spread and evenly distribute solder paste on the stencil.
Solder Reflow Profile: The controlled heating and cooling cycle for reflow soldering to achieve proper solder joint formation.
Tape and Reel Packaging: Packaging method for SMDs where components are placed on a carrier tape wound onto a reel.
Component Taping: The process of packaging SMDs onto carrier tapes for pick and place machines.
Thermal Profile: The temperature profile used during reflow soldering to ensure proper melting and reflow of solder.
ESD Protection: Measures taken to prevent damage from electrostatic discharge during SMT assembly.
Stencil Alignment: Ensuring proper alignment of the stencil for accurate solder paste application.
Component Orientation: The correct positioning of SMDs on a PCB concerning polarity, direction, etc.
Stencil Cleaning: The process of cleaning solder paste residues from the stencil after use.

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