PCB TrainBot

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Costs & Pricing

Tell me something about the relative costs of flexible printed circuit boards (FPCB).

Whether 1-layer or 2-layers is a big factor. 2-layer FPCB will be +50% more expensive than 1-layer FPCB. Local stiffeners are expected and not expensive. They are best if all are same thickness and on same side.

The larger the FPCB, the more expensive it will be. But in small quantities, most of the cost is in the set-up charge for the job, so the size will not be the biggest factor.

A 1-layer flex or 2-layer flex with PTH and localised rigidisers all on the same side and the same thickness is generally the lowest cost flex configuration. Note that the rigidisers would be blank pieces of FR4 or polyimide. All tracking must be on the flex part of the circuit.

FPCBs with more than 2 layers, say 4 or 6 layers, are rare & expensive. These are probably best avoided for commercial work. Flexi-rigids are expensive and can get very complex in their construction. The rigid part will have PTH and tracks, and be bonded to the flex part. Such a configuration will be some 3 times more expensive than a simple flex with plain rigidiser.

Are your quoted prices per lot or per circuit?

Prices quoted are per lot, and per circuit

Specification & Ordering

Do I need to order a separate solder paste screen if I require assembly?

Our assembly quotes are inclusive of the cost of solder paste screens.

How do I order both bare PCBs and assembly?

Manufacture of the bare PCB and assembly are two separate transactions, and need to be ordered independently. Prices for each are provided by the PCB fabrication and PCB assembly quote calculators.

How do I name the various layer files in the PCB Gerber data pack?

We understand all the CAD package naming conventions, so the CAD design software default file names will almost certainly be fine.

Potential Problems & Errors

What are the common errors with PCB data files

Common errors are: Missing board outline, missing drill sizes or no drill file at all. We recommend to place a layer description so that it is actually printed on the PCB. It is good practice to mirror the text so that it is right reading from the viewing direction when printing. Include the specification of laminate type, thickness and copper weight within your data files.

PCB Train Asks...

What are your electrical test specifications?

Test area: 610x500mm

Number of Probes: 2 Front, 2 Rear

Minimum board size: 76x76mm

Maximum board thickness for clamping: 6mm

Repeatable accuracy: +/-10μm Resolution: 6μm

Minimum pad pitch: 180μm

Test voltage of resistance measurement continuity test: 0-10V

Isolation test: 250V

Test current of resistance measurement continuity test: 2.65μA-150mA

Is electrical testing included in the cost of the PCB?

Yes, all PCBs that we fabricate are subject to electrical test.

How do you electrically test PCBs?

We use high performance moving probe testers which test the PCBs against a net-list created from the Gerber data. Open circuits are identified by a continuity check between all net-ends on a single net. Short circuits are identified by a sophisticated algorithm which is based on the unique property of shorted nets which will have an identical capacitance.

My PCB will be smaller than the minimum size for your electrical testing machine. Will it still get tested?

The Electrical Test machine's clamping mechanism has a minimum size. However, PCBs are made in a panel large enough to fit the test machine, and they will be tested however small the individual circuits. Small circuits will always get electrically tested.

Handling Frame

Can I get a handling frame added?

Any PCB can be ordered with a frame, (= a snap off handling frame) or without. If we are assembling the PCB, we prefer to have a handling frame. PCBs can be assembled without a frame, but they are much easier in a frame if you are using any machinery to assist (solder paste printing, semi-auto SMD assembly, etc). Select “yes” in the “Supply in panels?” selection box during the quote and order process.

Is there a charge for supplying a handling frame?

There is no charge for the frame. The frame may be around just one PCB or a group (step & repeated). You could take delivery of the PCBs in a frame and snap one out and return the rest for us to assemble later, or you could order say 5 pcs is singles each in a frame, and return 4 pcs as singles in a frame for us to assemble.