Training the Technicians: A Necessity for Professional PCB Manufacturers
PCB manufacturing companies such as Rush PCB Inc. have come a long way from their earlier counterparts who conducted most of their operations manually. These professional PCB manufacturers now use sophisticated automatic machines for most of their operations. Therefore, there is no way a nonprofessional can simply walk in and start working in a modern facility manufacturing PCBs.
Components of printed circuit boards go through several complicated processes involving physical, chemical, and mechanical operations before the PCB can be certified as ready for dispatch to customers. As most professional PCB manufacturers are ISO 9001:2015 certified, regular training is part of their Quality Management System.
Professional PCB manufacturers offer all or part of a range of services that may include:
- Design of multilayer PCB layout
- Multilayer flex, rigid-flex, rigid, and HDI PCB manufacturing
- Surface-mounted and through-hole assembly
- Electromechanical and cable harness assembly
- Final product assembly and automated testing services
- Components purchasing services
- Complete turnkey from design to finished product
Each of the above services requires trained personnel to execute their activities.
Design of Multilayer PCB Layout
Multilayer printed circuit board layout and design require powerful computer-aided design packages to take care of the intricacies of different layers of the design. Technicians working at this level require in-depth knowledge of design rules, routing traces, grounding planes, the difference between analog and digital grounding, and more. They must also be well-versed in working with the specific CAD software package the company uses. Additionally, they must understand the use and importance of different types of vias such as micro-vias, blind, and buried vias.
Multilayer Flex, Rigid Flex, Rigid, and HDI PCB Manufacturing
PCB manufacturing is a complicated activity involving a large number of operations. Technicians involved in these operations need sophisticated hands-on training in identifying materials, handling them, working with them on different sophisticated machines, and learning to identify faults.
For instance, only a trained technician can know the method of programming a baking chamber for the right temperature and duration or program a computer-driven drilling machine using data from the Gerber files sent over by the customer.
PCB manufacturing involves several chemical processes. Technicians need to be trained in operational safety and the proper use of these chemicals. They would also need to be trained in the proper use of personal protective equipment these activities require wearing.
Surface Mounted and Through Hole Assembly
Professional PCB manufacturing companies such as Rush PCB Inc. also offer assembly services, for which they employ highly trained technicians. These technicians are thoroughly trained in different fields of surface mounting activities such as in operating pick-and-place machines, reflow machines, and automated testing machines.
As they handle both passive and active components, the technicians need to be aware of Electro Static Discharge (ESD), its devastating effects on electronic components, and the methods of avoiding this menace.
They also need to be trained in the identification of different packaging the industry uses for SMD components, and their proper handling by the pick-and-place machines. The PCB industry mostly uses lead-free solder paste, which requires training for storage and handling.
The reflow process is another area where special training is required for technicians operating the machine. Apart from learning how to program the computer-operated reflow oven, the technician should also be trained in profiling the reflow oven to allow perfect soldering for different boards.
Through-hole soldering using manual methods also requires proper training, especially with lead-free solder, as it has a much higher melting point. Without adequate training, a novice can very quickly ruin a flex PCB when manually soldering a component.
Electromechanical and Cable Harness Assembly
The ability to read diagrams and follow assembly instructions is very critical to the successful completion of an electromechanical and cable assembly. Technicians in this area need to be trained to understand the different symbols electrical diagrams use. Cable harness assembly uses colors and numbers for proper identification and orientation, and technicians need training to work efficiently and quickly using the codes on their assembly drawings.
Final Product Assembly and Automated Testing Services
Professional PCB manufacturing companies usually maintain a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility along with a team of technicians, experienced in product assembly and testing. However, this team also requires training since each product is unique, and they must understand the manner in which the different parts come together to make the product function coherently.
Likewise, testing is unique to each product, and the technicians must be capable of being trained in the unique testing process to be followed for each product.
Component Purchasing Services
Being completely flexible towards the requirements of the customer, printed circuit board manufacturers also offer turnkey projects that involve component purchasing. There is an inherent danger in an untrained person purchasing components from the open market, as there is always a chance of counterfeit parts coming through. Therefore, technicians involved in purchasing components need training to know reliable sources for electronic components, and the means of identifying counterfeit ones.
Complete Turnkey from Design to Finished Product
Professional PCB manufacturing companies such as Rush PCB Inc. guarantee world-class results in the electronic industry. They make this possible by ensuring their factory floor technicians obtain consistent, regular training. Regular training has the advantage that technicians use standardized methods, follow best practices, generate efficiencies, and improve on the specific process on which they are working.
Both printed circuit board assembly companies as well as PCB manufacturing companies need to implement training schedules that are highly standardized for guaranteeing the top-quality service their clients demand. Consistent training schedules ensure professional PCB manufacturers prioritize manufacturability from the very beginning of the design process.