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Understanding a Manufacturer’s PCB Production Capabilities

If you visit any printed circuit board manufacturer’s website, you will always find one webpage named ‘Capabilities’. The Capabilities page showcases the various types of projects that the manufacturer can take on. The manufacturer also provides information on the range of specifications he can offer when designing the PCB.

Features within Capabilities Page

Every manufacturer will have his own set of capabilities. However, there are some common points provided in every Capabilities webpage. These include:

  • Layer Count: The number of layers in a PCB
  • Largest Panel Size: This size specification is provided in inches.
  • Material Types: The various materials the manufacturer can use to produce the PCB.
  • Drill Hole Size: This refers to the range of drill hole sizes. Generally, the manufacturer provides the highest specification is provided here. For example: up to 0.004ʺ.
  • Finishes: Types of PCB finishing processes performed.
  • Solder Mask: Generally, the manufacturer provides the types of solder masks he provides, as well as the colors within each type. Two of the common solder masking capabilities include:
    • Liquid Photoimageable Solder Mask (LPI S/M): This solder mask is used when working with photographic imaging. The colors in this type are green, blue, red, black, and white.
    • Flexible LPI S/M: This is a less rigid version of LPI. Colors offered in this type are amber, green, black, and white.
  • Silk Screen: A layer used to apply epoxy ink onto a PCB for the placement of legend elements. Like LPI, silk screen is also offered in various colors. A few examples include white, black, red, and yellow.
  • Laser: Laser services can include routing, drilling, and trimming.
  • Copper Thickness: This refers to the amount of copper used to manufacture PCB layers and other components. The copper thickness is provided in ounces (oz.
  • Minimum Traces: Size of the traces on a PCB. For example: 0.003”.

Understanding PCB manufacturing capabilities can help a customer find a PCB manufacturer who can meet all requirements in terms of materials, design solutions, and manufacturing processes.

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