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So you want to assemble a printed circuit board? This is a fun pursuit—sometimes even an addictive one. Don’t get overwhelmed by all of the different parts, and don’t stress out if you don’t get the first one perfect. Simply take it one component at a time, and be flexible about making any needed adjustments as you progress through the assembly process.

Printed Circuit Board Assembly 101

(Pixabay / Pauline_17)

Here are some basic tips to make your first PCB assembly project a success:

1. Assess your circuit board type – Will you be assembling a single or double sided PCB? Or a multi-layered one? First, know exactly what you are working with.

2. Set everything in place – Put the switch connectors, LEDs, mounting holes, and all other components in their proper position. Make sure that you are setting complementary parts next to each other, being careful to keep trace lengths between components as short as possible.

3. Place integrated circuits uniformly – ICs should all be facing the same way—whether it be up and down or side to side. You should also leave maximum room between ICs to accommodate the signal traces that will need to be added as the assembly progresses.

4. Print your layout – When you have completed your layout, print a copy and set it over your PCB. Is there enough room between components?

5. Solder – Next comes the soldering process. Make sure to heat joints adequately and avoid leaving excess flux behind.

6. Add power and ground traces – Next, you can position the power and ground traces or wires. These should be wide traces that connect to common rails for each supply.

7. Add signal traces – These wires will be narrower than the power and ground traces. Long connections could pose problems; keep the traces as short as possible. If signal traces will need to transmit a heavier current, use a wider trace.

8. Use vias for multiple layers – If your PCB consists of more than one layer, make generous use of vias or “plated-through holes.” Vias (short for “vertical interconnect access”) can get electrical signals from one layer to the next as efficiently as possible.

Printed circuit boards are the backbone of the electronics industry and are capable of amazing functions. Approach assembly systematically, and enjoy exploring a world of possibilities. Contact EMS Solutions for more information on printed circuit board assembly and through hole assembly jobs.