PCB Design, Prototyping and Manufacturing Services

At JCAD Inc. we have worked with lots of clients fabricating PCB enclosures for their electronics. Because it’s such a popular service, we decided to create a fully dedicated electronics department to offer printed circuit board design, prototyping and manufacturing as well as just the creation of PCB enclosures

It doesn’t matter if your project is small or a large production run, we now have the most advanced technology and tools for PCB production in North America, as well as an experienced electronic design and engineering team, to help achieve successful results for your next PCB project at an affordable price.

It’s as easy as requesting a free quote, sending us your ideas or Gerber files, and you’ll be on the way to getting a lightning fast response with the pricing on your project.

What are PCBs?

A printed circuit board (or PCB) is the central component in any electronic device, it’s basically the brain in the device, which routes electrical signals through a network of pathways, usually made of copper, while also supporting all of the tiny electronic components soldered onto the board, that make electronic products work the way they do.

These printed circuit boards usually consist of several layers of laminated copper between sheets of a non-conductive substrate.

The huge advantage of PCBs is that, by eliminating all the wiring, devices can be way smaller than what they used to be (remember when computers were as big as a room, and now they fit in your pocket!). Once you have the design of a PCB, its manufacturing can be easily automated for mass production, allowing for cheaper and faster manufacturing than what used to be possible with standard wiring methods.

It should also be noted that “PCB”, in the strict usage of the word, refers to the etched wiring board, that means that this “PCB” is not yet populated with electronic components (capacitors, resistors, etc).

When these components are installed, the proper name of the board is PCBA, or printed circuit board assembly. But informally, PCB is generally accepted for both meanings.

We’d love to help you bring your ideas to reality. Use the chat box or contact form below to send us your project brief or contact us directly on 1-888-202-2052 and we’ll get a quote back to you asap.


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What’s PCB printing and how are they fabricated?

The fabrication of a PCB is a complex process, but we’ll briefly explain how it’s done:

Design

By using one of the many PCB design software packages available, the designer creates a PCB layout that fits all the required components in order for the design and product to function. The most popular PCB design software worldwide is Gerber X2 (or IX274X).

These Gerber files allow the designer to encode all of the important design information, like copper tracking layers, drill drawings and component notation. While the software also checks the design to spot any errors.

Once we receive your Gerber files, we usually perform “Design for Manufacture” (DFM) checks on the PCB data we receive, to ensure that our production capabilities (like minimum required hole sizes or space between tracks, for example) fulfill the requirements of your project. If you want us to design your PCB from scratch, then we can bypass this step as we will design the printed circuit board assembly to meet your specifications, as well as our manufacturing capabilities.

Plotting a PCBA film

Before fabricating the PCB, we use a laser photo plotter to print a film that acts as a negative for each layer of the PCB. This film is kind of like a map that shows where the copper will go when printing the copper foil. This is done in an environmentally controlled dark room.

Printing and etching

Now it’s time to make the actual PCB, there are many core substrate materials that can be used, usually an epoxy resin with a copper surface bonded on both sides. This panel receives a layer of photoresist, which is a photo-sensitive film that hardens after exposure to UV light.

We then proceed to print the PCB, by exposing the board to powerful UV lights which harden the photoresist through the clear areas of the previously printed film, while the black areas of the film protect the copper underneath it.

Then, an alkaline solution is applied to remove all the unhardened photoresist. This process is called etching. After a few examination processes, and removal of any unwanted copper, we get the exact pattern we want for your PCB.

Layer alignment, inspection and bonding

We now proceed to punch the layers, this way we make sure that each layer is aligned through the board’s registration holes, by using a machine called the “optical punch”.

After the layers are aligned, we proceed to verify that the board is free of errors with the initial Gerber files received using a laser sensor.

At this moment, the outer layers are bonded to the substrate by using a press that uses heated press plates and pressure to bond all the components together.

Drilling and plating

By using the CAD information from the PCB, a computer-controlled profiling and drilling machine proceeds to drill the holes where the components of the PCB will go. To provide conductivity between all copper interfaces, more copper is then plated into the holes by a chemical immersion process.

 

The process is a bit more extensive and detailed than that (some might consider it boring, but we don’t!) but here are a few more of the steps we go through to create a fully functional PCB. We’ll just list them here for brevity, but if you need more information just let us know:

  • Second stage unneeded copper removal.
  • Photoresist is added and cleaned again by another etching process, to ensure full connectivity between components.
  • A layer of coating is added to protect the PCB from environmental factors.
  • The legends and nomenclature are printed into the board.
  • Profile milling of the board to get the desired contours.
  • Additional surface finish by chemical plating.
  • Final testing and inspection.
  • Vacuum packaging and delivery.

The manufacturing of each PCB is an extensive process that requires a lot of expertise and attention to detail, and an important part of having a successful electronic production run is to use reliable firms to produce your electronics. Through years of experience, we have built a lot of trust with companies needing product prototyping and manufacturing services, so you know that if you work with us your PCBs will be created to the highest standards.

How to take advantage of our PCB fabrication services?

It’s very easy to get set up to use our circuit board design and fabrication services. If you haven’t designed your board yet, we can have our PCB design team work with you to prepare your layouts on a computer aided design (CAD) program. If you already have Gerber files or a design ready to go, it’s as easy as sending it to us and we’ll get to work making your PCBA.

Our CAD engineering team will then conduct a DFM review checking everything in your PCB layout to verify if your project is within our capabilities, before sending all the tool files to a computer aided manufacturing (CAM) system to input the data needed for the machines that will fabricate your PCB.

Additionally, we offer custom PCB enclosure boxes for your product via our plastic injection molding services, as we said, you’re good to take your product straight into market with us.

Custom PCB prototypes

Rapid prototyping isn’t a new concept at JCAD Inc. in fact, we have designed and fabricated thousands of prototypes for clients all over the world, for more than 10 years. So, if you are looking for one of the most knowledgeable and experienced prototyping firms in North America to help you create a custom PCB prototype, then you’re in the right place.

If you’re an inventor, entrepreneur, or part of a company, all you need to do is give us a call, and talk to our electronics designers, we’re looking forward to hearing more about your custom PCB project idea, and will probably even have some suggestions to improve the outcome of your prototype.

What are our PCB fabrication capabilities?

With us you can get:

  • Multi-layer, micro, wearables and thick copper digital PCB design
  • Full DFM and DFT reviews for testing and manufacturing
  • High variety of PCB formats, substrates, and high-end materials
  • Rigid, Rigid-Flex and Flex PCB prototyping and manufacturing
  • Drill, panel and cutout design drawings
  • Firmware development
  • Complete assembly drawings
  • Professional fabrication drawings

Why should you choose JCAD to manufacture your circuit boards

As one of the biggest 3D design and prototyping companies in the world, JCAD inc. has already helped hundreds of businesses and entrepreneurs fulfill their dreams and meet their business goals. We are a complete one-stop-shop when it comes to product design, prototyping and manufacturing that’s always one step ahead of the competition. We provide high quality and affordable design assessment, prototyping and manufacturing services in a wide range of production fields, from aerospace and automotive, to medical and educational institutions. We have the knowledge and experience to confidently guide and assist you through your next PCB or electronic design project!

If you decide to prototype or manufacture your circuit boards with us, our objective is to make it as affordable, quick and easy as possible for you.

Images by:

Windell Oskay, Image 1 and Image 2
Nathan Duprey, Image 1 and Image 2
Diego Torres Silvestre