PCB panels are a manufacturing technique in which smaller panels are integrated into an array to more easily pass through an assembly line. Individual panels can be easily separated or removed from the array for packaging or installation into a product. In addition, PCBs are machined around the edges of individual panels to increase their width to fit on the assembly line. In short, board assembly means putting boards together to help increase processing speed. Grouping is especially common in high-volume and fast-order situations when optimization is particularly important. When you connect smaller boards together, the easier it is to get through the assembly line. The board can be easily removed at a later date.
In order to reap the benefits of mass production from board collocation, the following design factors must be considered.
PCB array strength.
During fabrication, there is a trade-off between ease of separation and the integrity of the array. Increasing the number of boards per array can increase strength and reduce vibration.
The location of components and connectors, especially those hanging over the edge of the board, may limit your panel selection. Note the location of sensitive SMT (surface mount technology) components toward the edge of the board.
The shape of the PCB.
The shape of the circuit board can complicate putting together a board. Rectangles are ideal, but if you have a complex board shape, alternating images from 90° to 180° can help you maximize space on the panel. Use a CAD program to assemble shaped boards into arrays.
Toolhole-arrays often provide automatic test space for toolholes.
Benefits of PCB boards
PCB-on-board not only helps small boards fit into standard production processes, but also increases productivity.
Mass production. If you need to manufacture a large number of boards, palletizing will save you time and money.
Product safety. Protects PCBs from shock and vibration during assembly.
Speed and efficiency. From solder paste printing to component assembly, soldering, and even testing as part of a large array, handling multiple boards at once is faster and more efficient. Handle multiple boards at once, at a given speed. Whether soldering or testing, it gets faster.
Standard panel sizes. It is often more cost effective to manufacture boards using the manufacturer's standard process panels. Handle multiple boards at once, at a given speed. Whether soldering or testing, it gets faster.
However, some of the limitations of panelization include its use for low-volume PCB manufacturing. Grouping is also limited by the following factors.
Space between boards
Ensuring panel efficiency.
Boards should have similar dimensions
In general, the board parameters must be similar
Should have similar copper distribution
Can be panelized in different ways.
V-slot boards - this involves making V-lines between the boards and is very useful when there are no hanging parts
Splitter - this is a method of punching holes between individual panels
The choice of whether to use the V-line or split panel method depends largely on the design.
shape. Typically, V-wires are used for regular shapes, while tabbed wiring is used for unusual shapes.
Edge components. Tag routing may be better than V-scoring for parts placed close to the edge.
Edge Quality: Again, for edge quality, label routing is preferable
V score is better from a time required perspective.
Waste - In terms of material waste, V-scoring is preferred because it reduces waste and lowers the total cost per board