Electroplating, also known as electrochemical deposition or electrodeposition, is a process for producing a metal coating on a solid substrate through the reduction of cations of that metal by means of a direct electric current. The part to be coated acts as the cathode of an electrolytic cell; the electrolyte is a solution of a salt of the metal to be coated; and the anode is usually either a block of that metal, or of some inert conductive material. The current is provided by an external power supply.
A printed circuit board is a medium used in electrical and electronic engineering to connect electronic components to one another in a controlled manner. It takes the form of a laminated sandwich structure of conductive and insulating layers: each of the conductive layers is designed with an artwork pattern of traces, planes and other features etched from one or more sheet layers of copper laminated onto and/or between sheet layers of a non-conductive substrate. Electrical components may be fixed to conductive pads on the outer layers in the shape designed to accept the component's terminals, generally by means of soldering, to both electrically connect and mechanically fasten them to it. Another manufacturing process adds vias: plated-through holes that allow interconnections between layers.
In electronics, point-to-point construction is a non-automated technique for constructing circuits which was widely used before the use of printed circuit boards (PCBs) and automated assembly gradually became widespread following their introduction in the 1950s. Circuits using thermionic valves were relatively large, relatively simple, and used large sockets, all of which made the PCB less obviously advantageous than with later complex semiconductor circuits. Point-to-point construction is still widespread in power electronics, where components are bulky and serviceability is a consideration, and to construct prototype equipment with few or heavy electronic components. A common practice, especially in older point-to-point construction, is to use the leads of components such as resistors and capacitors to bridge as much of the distance between connections as possible, reducing the need to add additional wire between the components.
Components of an electrical circuit are electrically connected if an electric current can run between them through an electrical conductor. An electrical connector is an electromechanical device used to create an electrical connection between parts of an electrical circuit, or between different electrical circuits, thereby joining them into a larger circuit. Most electrical connectors have a gender – i.e. the male component, called a plug, connects to the female component, or socket. The connection may be removable, require a tool for assembly and removal, or serve as a permanent electrical joint between two points. An adapter can be used to join dissimilar connectors.
Surface-mount technology (SMT), originally called planar mounting, is a method in which the electrical components are mounted directly onto the surface of a printed circuit board (PCB). An electrical component mounted in this manner is referred to as a surface-mount device (SMD). In industry, this approach has largely replaced the through-hole technology construction method of fitting components, in large part because SMT allows for increased manufacturing automation which reduces cost and improves quality. It also allows for more components to fit on a given area of substrate. Both technologies can be used on the same board, with the through-hole technology often used for components not suitable for surface mounting such as large transformers and heat-sinked power semiconductors.
Flexible electronics, also known as flex circuits, is a technology for assembling electronic circuits by mounting electronic devices on flexible plastic substrates, such as polyimide, PEEK or transparent conductive polyester film. Additionally, flex circuits can be screen printed silver circuits on polyester. Flexible electronic assemblies may be manufactured using identical components used for rigid printed circuit boards, allowing the board to conform to a desired shape, or to flex during its use.
Stripboard is the generic name for a widely used type of electronics prototyping material for circuit boards characterized by a pre-formed 0.1 inches (2.54 mm) regular (rectangular) grid of holes, with wide parallel strips of copper cladding running in one direction all the way across one side of on an insulating bonded paper board. It is commonly also known by the name of the original product Veroboard, which is a trademark, in the UK, of British company Vero Technologies Ltd and Canadian company Pixel Print Ltd. It was originated and developed in the early 1960s by the Electronics Department of Vero Precision Engineering Ltd (VPE). It was introduced as a general-purpose material for use in constructing electronic circuits - differing from purpose-designed printed circuit boards (PCBs) in that a variety of electronics circuits may be constructed using a standard wiring board.
Printed circuit board milling is the process of removing areas of copper from a sheet of printed circuit board material to recreate the pads, signal traces and structures according to patterns from a digital circuit board plan known as a layout file. Similar to the more common and well known chemical PCB etch process, the PCB milling process is subtractive: material is removed to create the electrical isolation and ground planes required. However, unlike the chemical etch process, PCB milling is typically a non-chemical process and as such it can be completed in a typical office or lab environment without exposure to hazardous chemicals. High quality circuit boards can be produced using either process. In the case of PCB milling, the quality of a circuit board is chiefly determined by the system's true, or weighted, milling accuracy and control as well as the condition of the milling bits and their respective feed/rotational speeds. By contrast, in the chemical etch process, the quality of a circuit board depends on the accuracy and/or quality of the mask used to protect the copper from the chemicals and the state of the etching chemicals.
Gold plating is a method of depositing a thin layer of gold onto the surface of another metal, most often copper or silver, by chemical or electrochemical plating. This article covers plating methods used in the modern electronics industry; for more traditional methods, often used for much larger objects, see gilding.
In electronics, through-hole technology is a manufacturing scheme in which leads on the components are inserted through holes drilled in printed circuit boards (PCB) and soldered to pads on the opposite side, either by manual assembly or by the use of automated insertion mount machines.
Electroless nickel-phosphorus plating is a chemical process that deposits an even layer of nickel-phosphorus alloy on the surface of a solid substrate, like metal or plastic. The process involves dipping the substrate in a water solution containing nickel salt and a phosphorus-containing reducing agent, usually a hypophosphite salt. It is the most common version of electroless nickel plating and is often referred by that name. A similar process uses a borohydride reducing agent, yielding a nickel-boron coating instead.
Perfboard is a material for prototyping electronic circuits. It is a thin, rigid sheet with holes pre-drilled at standard intervals across a grid, usually a square grid of 0.1 inches (2.54 mm) spacing. These holes are ringed by round or square copper pads, though bare boards are also available. Inexpensive perfboard may have pads on only one side of the board, while better quality perfboard can have pads on both sides. Since each pad is electrically isolated, the builder makes all connections with either wire wrap or miniature point to point wiring techniques. Discrete components are soldered to the prototype board such as resistors, capacitors, and integrated circuits. The substrate is typically made of paper laminated with phenolic resin or a fiberglass-reinforced epoxy laminate (FR-4).
Solder mask, solder stop mask or solder resist is a thin lacquer-like layer of polymer that is usually applied to the copper traces of a printed circuit board (PCB) for protection against oxidation and to prevent solder bridges from forming between closely spaced solder pads. A solder bridge is an unintended electrical connection between two conductors by means of a small blob of solder. PCBs use solder masks to prevent this from happening. Solder mask is not always used for hand soldered assemblies, but is essential for mass-produced boards that are soldered automatically using reflow or wave soldering techniques. Once applied, openings must be made in the solder mask wherever components are soldered, which is accomplished using photolithography. Solder mask is traditionally green, but is also available in many other colors.
Electroless nickel immersion gold (ENIG or ENi/IAu), also known as immersion gold (Au), chemical Ni/Au or soft gold, is a metal plating process used in the manufacture of printed circuit boards (PCBs), to avoid oxidation and improve the solderability of copper contacts and plated through-holes. It consists of an electroless nickel plating, covered with a thin layer of gold, which protects the nickel from oxidation. The gold is typically applied by quick immersion in a solution containing gold salts. Some of the nickel is oxidized to Ni2+ while the gold is reduced to metallic state. A variant of this process adds a thin layer of electroless palladium over the nickel, a process known by the acronym ENEPIG.
Board-to-board (BTB) connectors are used to connect printed circuit boards (PCB), electronic components that contain a conductive pattern printed on the surface of the insulating base in an accurate and repeatable manner. Each terminal on a BTB connector is connected to a PCB. A BTB connector includes housing and a specific number of terminals. The terminal is made from a conductive material, and plated to improve conductivity and antirust. Terminals transmit the current/signal between PCBs connected by BTB; the housing is made of insulating material.
Microvias are used as the interconnects between layers in high density interconnect (HDI) substrates and printed circuit boards (PCBs) to accommodate the high input/output (I/O) density of advanced packages. Driven by portability and wireless communications, the electronics industry strives to produce affordable, light, and reliable products with increased functionality. At the electronic component level, this translates to components with increased I/Os with smaller footprint areas, and on the printed circuit board and package substrate level, to the use of high density interconnects (HDIs).
The Occam process is a solder-free, Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS)-compliant method for use in the manufacturing of electronic circuit boards developed by Verdant Electronics. It combines the usual two steps of the construction of printed circuit boards (PCBs) followed by the population process of placing various leaded and non-leaded electronic components into one process.
Stencil printing is the process of depositing solder paste on the printed wiring boards (PWBs) to establish electrical connections. It is immediately followed by the component placement stage. The equipment and materials used in this stage are a stencil, solder paste, and a printer.
In printed circuit boards, teardrops are typically drop-shaped features at the junction of vias or contact pads and traces.
Conductive anodic filament, also called CAF, is a metallic filament that forms from an electrochemical migration process and is known to cause printed circuit board (PCB) failures.