The electronics Printed Circuit Board industry is evolving as new production technologies become offered at inexpensive. Direct digital printing is making inroads into the traditional photolithography and screen printing processes that have been utilized to manufacture Quick PCB Sample for the last 20 years.

Here we are going to focus on the utilization of direct digital printing to individualize PCBs just just before their assembly. The aim is to print an exclusive mark on each board that can be used to identify the board. The mark has to be permanent and definately will probably contain 1D or 2D machine readable codes in addition to alpha numeric characters. The marks must have a 600 DPI (dots per inch) resolution or better due to size constraints on the PCB. We shall also concentrate on applications that require more that one thousand,000 boards each year. At these volumes automated material handling starts to become extremely important for the overall success in the system.

High volume PCB fabricators use screen printing with thermally cured ink to print the legends which cover both sides of the board. At the moment digital printing can not print the complete side of a board at a cost that competes with screen printing. Even though many printers, like the PPS7000, could print each of the nomenclature on the board, here we shall concentrate on using digital printing just to print the individualizing marks.

Several individualizing options exist like the following:

Preprinted Label Application

Many low volume products start with labels printed on office equipment and hand put on each Special Offer For 2layers PCB just before or after assembly. As the product volumes ramp the reliability and expense of hand applying labels turns into a problem. Automated systems that print and apply labels are available. (check this out site ) Due to PCB space constraints these systems must place labels very accurately, a large problem for many label application systems. The labels usually are not permanent. At high volumes the labels can be more expensive than other marking methods.

Advantages

* Low Initial Cost

* High Contrast Mark

Disadvantages

* Not Permanent

* Higher Incremental Cost

* Challenging to Change Label Size On The Fly

* Mechanical Complexity For Automated Application

Solvent Based Continuous Ink Jet Digital Printing. Continuous ink-jet technologies have been adapted to mark on many industrial products including PCBs. With these systems a continuous stream of ink droplets is steered towards the desired location using electromagnetic fields. Solvent based inks produce permanent marks on porous surfaces. The marks are less permanent on non-porous surfaces where smearing may become a problem for that limited time its takes to dry.

Advantages

* Competitive Incremental Cost

* High Contrast Mark

* Many Colors Available

Disadvantages

* Complex Ink Viscosity Process Can Be A Challenge To Regulate

* High Res (In Excess Of 300 DPI) Challenging To Achieve?

* Solvents May Be Released Into Atmosphere, Most Companies Attempting To Reduce Solvent Issues

* Mark Not Resistant Against Some Cleaning Solvents

Laser Ablated Ink Patches – Many industries use lasers to engrave marks onto a variety of parts. Lasers have already been utilized to engrave marks onto PC boards with limited success because of the insufficient contrast of the resulting mark. A more recent approach is to have the circuit boards printed with ink patches, the ink patch will be selectively removed (ablated) from the laser creating the mark to be printed. (see here ) PPSI has the capabilities to build up a laser based marking system.

Advantages

* Competitive Incremental Cost

* High Contrast Mark If Ink Patch Is Used

* Very Fine, Highly Reliable Marks Provided With Laser Galvo Head

Disadvantages

* High Initial Cost

* Requires Preprinted Ink Patch

* Even At Low Power Laser heat May Damage (by Fracture) Traces, Causing Intermittent Reliability Problems

* Particle Generation May Require A Cleaning Step

Piezoelectric Drop On Demand Digital Printing, Solvent Based Ink. For a concise description of drop on demand digital printing see here [http://www.aellora.com/documents/whatisdodij.pdf]. In my view this alternative represents a slight improvement over option 2.

Advantages

* Competitive Incremental Cost

* High Contrast Mark

* Many Colors Available

* Easier Process To Regulate Than Continuous Ink Jet

Disadvantages

* Standoff Distance less Than 2mm, Appropriate For Unpopulated Boards Only

* Solvents May Be Released Into Atmosphere, A Lot Of Companies Trying To Reduce Solvent Emissions

* Mark Not Immune To Some Cleaning Solvents

Piezoelectric Drop On Demand Digital Printing, Thermally Cured Ink. A startup company in Israel “Printar” has introduced a printer directed at low volume, fast turn PCB fabricators who require to lessen the cost and lead time connected with small lot screen printing. Interesting could be the thermally cured ink that reportedly has better adhesion capability than other ink systems.

Advantages

* Good Ink Adhesion ?

Disadvantages

* Requires Large Oven For 350-400 deg F Heat Cure

* Will Not Include High Volume Material Handling

Piezoelectric Drop On Demand Digital Printing, UV Cured Ink. Markem Corporation has evolved an ink/print head system ( the Model 4000, see here ) that several OEMs and integrators are utilizing to print on PCBs. The program uses an ink that is less viscous at high temperature and almost solid at room temperature. Paper head operates at 68 deg C, the ink drops cool whenever they contact the PCB becoming almost solid. This enables the system to print fine detail on PCBs without ink running or smearing. When subjected to UV light the ink undergoes a chemical reaction transforming into a solid plastic like substance. The cured ink is impervious to common solvents.

Advantages

* Competitive Incremental Cost

* High Contrast With Fine Detail (600 DPI)

* Before Cure, the Ink Can Be Wiped Off And the Board Reprinted

* After cure, The Ink Can Not Really Removed Except By Scraping

* High volume Material Handling Available

* Works Well With Inline Inspection (Inspect Before Cure, Cure Only Good Boards)

Disadvantages

* Ink Adhesion Can Be A Problem On Certain Substances

* Demands the PCB Be Clean (No Finger Oils)

* Standoff Distance Under 2mm, Suitable For Unpopulated Boards Only

The PPS7000 continues to be created to print individualizing marks on Ultrafast PCB Produce using option 6. The system uses a SMEMA compatible edge belt conveyor to go PCBs for the print area where they are printed and optically inspected. After inspection they may be conveyed to the inline curing station then the back of the machine. When being automatically loaded with a board destacker, panels exit qhzwxo system about once every 10 seconds. Each panel usually contains multiple boards that every receives a unique serial number. The general throughput from the machine is very dependent on the number of boards in each panel. The more boards in each panel the larger the throughput in boards each minute. A drag and drop WYSIWYG (What You See Is Exactly What You Receive) programming system continues to be developed that allows a brand new panel to become programmed in approximately a few minutes. An offline programming method is available too.

We have been the sole PCB board marking system that can cause a permanent (solvent resistant) high contrast mark, incorporates SMEMA compatible high volume material handling and incorporates inline inspection.

Ultrafast PCB Produce – Figure out How To Successfully Outdo the Probabilities..

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