Printed circuit boards need to be kept secure during the manufacturing, shipping, and assembly processes to avoid damaging the unit.
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 methods for your reference.
Penalization, also known as an array format, is used to process multiple boards while keeping them together in a single substrate. The process allows PCB manufacturers to maintain high quality while reducing costs.
The two most common methods of penalization are V-groove penalization and breakaway tab, or tab-route penalization.
V-Groove Penalization – This method involves cutting 1/3 the thickness of the board from both the top and bottom with a 30- to 45-degree circular cutting blade. The remaining board is quite sturdy and is depaneled by machine to avoid stress on the PCB. V-Groove penalization is used where there are no overhanging components.
Tab-Route Penalization – This method permits placing PCBs of the same or different designs together. Space is left between the perforated tabs and the traces and surface mounted parts. This reduces surface stress and avoids splintering.
Depenalization is simply removing individual PCBs from the array. Several different methods are used to depanel PCB arrays:
Breaking by Hand – Only appropriate for strain-resistant circuits.
Pizza Cutter – Used on V-grooves. Best for cutting very large panels into smaller ones. This method is inexpensive and low-maintenance.
Punching – A two-part fixture punches out single PCBs. Higher capacity, but higher maintenance and cost.
Depaneling Router – Single boards are connected using tabs; the router bit mills out the tabs. Can cut arcs and turn at sharp angles, but capacity is lower.
Saw – Can perform at high feed rates, cutting both V-grooved and non-V-grooved PCBs.
Laser – Low mechanical stress and precise tolerances, but has higher initial capital outlay.