The days of the drill press
The humble beginning of printed circuit board drilling began with the drill press. This process involves manual moving of the board to x and y coordinates and the pulling of a lever. This would be done individually for each hole. This would create huge issues with the complexity of modern PCBs – which have tens of thousands of holes of varying sizes. This makes it extremely impractical for modern day boards.
Modern drilling automation
PCB drilling now uses specific drill heads and settings to automate the process. The machines differ in specification and capability – but they make the process much easier. This is done rapidly and improves the quality of the finished product.
There are two factors to think about in relation to hole size. These are the thickness of the board and the size of the drilled hole needed. The ratio of these two affects reduction and the overall material thickness.
Via or plated through holes
Depending on your specification, the PCB via (or plated through hole) can turn out completely differently. If a PCB via needs to be extremely small then laser technology can be used. Often these are called microvias. Complex designs often need a lot of traces and connections and have microvias present. Multilayer PCBs are more complex and can involve blind vias going partially through some layers but not all. These are drilled, plated onto the layer stacks and laminated altogether. These vias can be filled with conductive or non-conductive materials depending on the specification. This can vary depending on heat, current and other requirements.
These are the common processes or methods involved with drilling and PCB vias. If you have any additional questions, please contact us and we’d be happy to help.