The PCB prototype is a key role within the design and creation of printed circuit boards. The design of a PCB is usually determined by a vague group of requirements. It’s designed to define the functionality required for mechanical and electrical products. The prototype may be the proving ground of these needs.
The designer incorporates all of the functionality that may fit into a board. Sometimes what’s needed are extensive and also the board may be both large and incredibly complex. A lot of things are required for that design to really make it to the prototype stage. Functionality and reliability are at the forefront. The amount of layers required depends on the complexness from the requirements. Some boards are only two layers, however in detailed applications they may reach over 32-layers. Size is also crucial. The board must squeeze into the system it’s being created for. The tolerances used in most PCB design will be to the thousandths of an inch, making each layer and every copper trace critical. They are designed under extremely tight tolerances and this integrity should be checked and re-checked for accuracy. Signals must be neat and voltage must match the application. Components added to the top should also meet the tight tolerances. The very first board that is created is called the prototype. This could range in quantity in one to hundreds depending on the level of testing done.
The PCB prototype undergoes extreme scrutiny. All things have to become checked throughout the manufacturing process. All the traces and leads are re-measured to ensure thickness before the board is pressed. The holes and vias are drilled using very sophisticated equipment and they have to be pre programmed for every board. Once the components are added to the top, again the electrical signals are tested and also the tolerances are checked. Once manufacturing has established the board to the specifications, the prototype is then tested and retested. Every requirement of the board has to be scrutinized for effectiveness and reliability. The board is tested independently to make sure functionality prior to being built-into environmental surroundings it is designed for. Each step is recorded and documented. Any failures should be addressed completely and in some cases a new prototype with modifications will have to be built. The prototype remains under close scrutiny until it is performing as required.