PCB Penalization Challenges
Penalization allows PCB manufacturers to assemble multiple boards simultaneously, reducing costs and production time. Penalization must be done properly so that PCBs will not be broken or otherwise damaged during separation. Following is a discussion of PCB penalization challenges that may be encountered.
Penalization presents a number of challenges in several areas:
Depenalization – disadvantages of some depenalization methods:
Using a router could require additional cleaning prior to shipment. This method produces a lot of dust which must be vacuumed out.
Saws can only cut in straight lines, so are appropriate only for certain arrays.
Lasers should be used only with an optimal board thickness of 1 mm or less.
Overhanging parts – require pre-routing to avoid interference with depenalization:
Components overhanging an edge can fall into adjacent parts.
Overhanging components can be damaged by a saw blade or router during depaneling.
Incomplete data files – sometimes incomplete files are provided to the manufacturer, which can increase costs in several ways:
Breakaway holes or mouse bites – These tiny holes permit small PCBs to be used in an array. Drilling these holes leaves rough edges. If the mouse bites are not shown in the data file, the unexpected extra work to remove the edges increases labor costs.
Cumulative and registration tolerances – If tight tolerances are not specified in the data file, the cumulative effect of tiny variances could cause failure. With more boards in the array, registration can go off-center.
Difficulty troubleshooting problems – Without complete data, issues such as a short during power ground short testing can be extremely difficult to trace back to their source.
Taking the above methods and challenges into consideration, an experienced PCB manufacturer can avoid problems before they occur. Working with a preeminent printed circuit board supplier like EPCB will ensure that your panelized PCB works as it should, is cost effective, and meets the highest industry standards.