Most printed circuit boards (PCBs) are individually routed, which means they’re not panelized. This doesn’t mean that sometimes, sending them to a PCB assembler in a panel isn’t a good idea (or even required). Generally, assemblers don’t require panels (sometimes called a pallet) but instances do occur when they’re utilized.
If the individual PC board, destined for Full Proto service, has smaller dimensions than 0.75″ x 0.75″, this would warrant the need to be panelized. If a PC board needing Short Run production service is less than 16 square inches, it needs to be in a panel of at least 16 square inches to qualify for Short Run.
Why else might you want to panelize PC boards?
- Protection- If you have a large number of small boards at your disposal, they’re easier to handle and protect when in a panel. A few panels can be more safely packed coming and going from your company to an assembler.
- Safety- You may be able to get the boards through a factory faster. If you have a really large number and need them imminently, panelizing may enable that fast turn. With a lot of boards, sometimes it simply isn’t physically possible to put every single one on the machine, run, and remove all of them in a short turn time. Panelize the boards, and the machine will be running longer for each change, which reduces the total run time.
- Cost- It may also cost you less. If you use leadless parts like BGAs, QFNs or LGAs, you can usually reduce your cost a bit by panelizing the boards. Leadless parts cost a little extra because of the X-Ray test needed, but the additional handling is mostly per board rather than part. One panel of 10 boards with 10 BGA in total, will cost a little less than 10 individual boards with one BGA each.
Filed Under: M2M (machine to machine)