A Look at PCB Panelization Methods and Tips

The key to successful manufacturing of printed circuit board designs is consistency. This can be achieved by ensuring that all the guidelines related to edge and array processing are met. PCB technician trainees and designers are required to know these guidelines, as well as panelization methods. In this post, we shall focus on panelization, its methods, and various tips to enhance the PCB’s design.

PCB Penelization

Examining PCB Panelization Tips and Methods

Two panelization methods that are used by various PCB design companies are V-grooves and perforated tabs.

  • V-Groove Panelization: This method involves cutting 1/3 the thickness of the board at the top and bottom. After this, the board can be depanelled. When this is performed, the remaining board thickness is quite strong. The V-groove method is ideal for PCBs that do not have components hanging over the edges. It is an efficient process, and creates less surface stress.
  • Breakaway-Tab Panelization: This method is used when it is not possible to use the V-groove method. This involves leaving perforated tabs and routing space between the boards. The traces and surface mounted parts are kept at a distance of about 3 mm away from the perforated tabs. This helps avoid splintering and surface stress. Breakout tab specifications are adapted from IPC-7351. They prevent any leftover tab material from protruding beyond the PCB edge.

Other PCB Design Tips

As you may realize, panelization can get limited due to the design of the board. This is particularly important when considering component clearance, connectors, and SMT components near the edge of a panel. However, there are a few steps that can be taken to ensure design and performance consistency.

  • The board count can be increased to improve strength, and automated depaneling can be performed during fabrication.
  • Arrays can be designed with tabs in various orientations between boards. A laser cutting machine can be used to perform this step.
  • Using laser cutting machines will ensure that the depaneling process will limit board thicknesses to 1 mm. Also, it is more cost-efficient than the depaneling router.

When PCB designers are completely aware of, and follow these guidelines, the PCBs manufactured will not only be consistent, but will also meet industry and application design requirements. For more information about PCB Panelization Methods and Tips, please visit http://www.rigiflex.com or contact the company at (714) 688-1500.

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