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PCB Panelization – Types, Benefits, and Guidelines

PCB Panelization – Types, Benefits, and Guidelines

Aug 23,2023

Printed circuit board (PCB) uniformity is crucial in ensuring the proper functioning of electronic devices. Non-uniform circuit boards are discarded as they can’t meet the intended requirement of the applications. The production process of PCBs remains the same irrespective of their sizes – small and large, and some adjustments are made to retain their dimensional uniformity. However, this is still a lengthy process and may introduce errors. This is where PCB panelization makes a significant difference. It is commonly performed during small circuit board production runs to achieve uniformity. In PCB panelization, several compact circuit boards are pooled to create a large panel. This enables assembly service providers to assemble several small circuit boards simultaneously, while ensuring the quality and uniformity of the board. Is that all? Obviously not. This post highlights every aspect of PCB panelization, which is an important part of PCB design services. Stay tuned.

3 Commonly Used PCB Panelization Techniques

Printed circuit boards are panelized using one of the following methods. Let’s take a quick look into it.  
  1. V-groove: It is a method of separating individual PCBs using V-shaped grooves or cuts which reduces the board’s thickness. Special cutting tools are used to complete this operation which is performed on the remaining central portion of the board. This portion is quite sturdy. Also, using a tool or machine avoids damage of components and circuits close to it. , This panelization technique is ideal when there are no overhanging components. V-groove panelization also helps reduce waste and improve the yield of PCBs, as it allows multiple PCBs to be produced on a single large panel.

  2. Tab Route: This technique involves leaving space between traces, perforated tabs, and surface-mounted components on a printed circuit board (PCB). Tab route panelization can be applied to PCBs with similar or different designs and is useful in preventing splintering and reducing surface stress. However, it may not be suitable for heavy components such as large relays or transformers. After tab separation, small laminate nubs may be left behind, which can be smoothed by sanding to achieve a polished edge on the PCB.

  3. Perforated Tabs: This is another popular panelization technique that involves drilling small perforated holes in tabs. These holes are referred to as "mouse bites" owing to their tiny sizes. The small holes make it easier to separate individual PCBs from a larger panel if one needs to depanelize. However, this method results in additional material being left behind on the edges of the boards, which may need to be sanded down.

Benefits of PCB Panelization

There are several benefits to panelizing printed circuit boards (PCBs) during the manufacturing process

  • PCB panelization can increase efficiency by allowing multiple PCBs to be produced on a single large panel. This helps reduce the time and cost associated with the manufacturing process.

  • Producing multiple PCBs on a single panel helps improve the yield of the manufacturing process. This is because any defects or errors that occur during the production process can be isolated to a single panel, rather than affecting all individual boards.

  • Panelization can also improve quality control by allowing for better monitoring of the production process. Any defects can be easily identified and traced back to a specific panel.

  • Panelization can also make the assembly process easier, especially for surface-mount technology (SMT) components.

  • PCB panelization helps reduce the amount of waste produced during the manufacturing process. This is because the use of large panels can help optimize material usage, and any unused material can be recycled or reused.

Important PCB Panelization Guidelines Designers Should Know

Here are some important pointers designers should consider to minimize errors during panelizing PCBs.

  • PCB and Panel Size: The size of both the individual PCBs and the overall panel must be taken into account to ensure efficient assembly and its functioning.

  • Space between PCBs: Sufficient space must be left between each PCB to enable easy separation during the depanelization process.

  • Clearance: Adequate clearance must be provided between the PCBs and the edges of the panel to prevent damage during handling and assembly.

  • Tooling Holes: The panel design should include tooling holes to ensure accurate placement of the PCBs during assembly.

  • Breakaway Tabs: These are used to secure the PCBs during manufacturing and assembly and must be designed to be easily removed during depanelization.

  • V-grooves or Mouse Bites: These are used to create separation between the individual PCBs during the depanelization process.

PCB panelization technique is quite popular and valuable for simplifying the manufacturing and assembly process of multiple circuit boards. Accurate panelization of the printed circuit board can lead to cost savings, simplified assemblies, improved yield, and more. If you have any further questions about this technique or want to implement it for your PCBs, it is always recommended to consult an experienced and reliable PCB manufacturer and assembly service provider from the industry. Creative Hi-tech is one popular name in the market. With years of market presence and skilled employees, the company offers high-quality panelized PCBs which meet the industry standards. The company also providing precise PCB design services to clients aside from manufacturing and assembling.

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