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Mike Garner

Managing Director at Garner Osborne Circuits Ltd

Why reliable PCB manufacture needs highly skilled technicians

Experience and a skilled workforce are essential in the development and assembly of reliable PCB manufacture. While this has always been true, the task is demanding more skill and a greater level of knowledge than ever before.

As PCBs become faster and more complex, technicians and designers need to have a more thorough understanding of how electronic signalling works, and the challenges, threats, and risks involved.

There are two areas that are driving up knowledge levels among market leaders and leading to more reliable PCB manufacture:

1) The first is the way in which consumer’s demands are evolving. New developments in tech are feeding new advancements, fuelling demand for smaller, faster, more durable and reliable solutions.

2) The second driver behind the need for PCB manufacturers and designers to demonstrate a more in-depth knowledge is the impact these developments are having on how new materials and components are impacting circuit operations.

Let me explain how product design is demanding more…

As consumers and product designers want more from their products, the role of a printed circuit board becomes more complex. Faster, smaller, more reliable boards need to be designed in a whole new way.

Each demand on functionality places additional complexity on design and production.
Whether it means introducing multi-layer boards for faster performance or adding planes to protect against noise and maintain the integrity of signal, as other components threaten functionality.

Whilst there are design tools to help with this, there’s no escaping the fact that PCB designers and manufacturers need a more in-depth and thorough understanding of how electrical circuits operate. Each new addition adds complexity and potential risks.

Why PCB manufacturers need to understand the behaviour of electronics like never before

The introduction of new components and a quest to build faster, more reliable, and more energy efficient boards, has stretched traditional layout structures to their limits, and beyond.
Multi-layer boards, ground power planes, microvias and blind vias have all joined the party in an effort to deliver enhanced performance without the drawbacks and reliability risks typically involved.

Over time we’ve increased our depth of understanding of things like the knock-on effect of multi-layer boards on impedance and integrity.
We’ve also come to see how plate positioning impacts capacitance and why the depth of a copper trace doesn’t improve the signal integrity. But, as a global community, there’s still more to learn.

I wouldn’t be so bold as to say that we, as a community, now understand fully the way electrical current behaves and how circuits can be interrupted. We don’t know what new components, materials or trends lie around the corner. In the same way that 20 years ago, wearable tech and flexible circuit boards weren’t even a pipe dream.
What I can say with certainty is, only by fully understanding how changes we are making to materials, components and designs affect circuit functionality, is it possible to design and build reliable PCBs that take into account the demands of the evolving market, and help it to meet the increasing demands of the consumer.