“What’s that discoloration on the edges?”
That’s the question asked most often with an element of shock and surprise by people who are using UV laser depaneling machines for the first time to cut PCBs from FR4 and polyimide. The simple answer is that some edge charring occurs on thicker materials like FR4 and the “discoloration” is a carbon residue produced on each pass of the laser. In most cases, the edge charring is just a cosmetic issue that does not affect PCB quality. The biggest concern is that the carbon dust may be conductive and may somehow contaminate or short-circuit components populating the board.
Putting together an automated SMT assembly line is like building a sports team. You’re looking for the best available player at each position and those you can count on to deliver the highest level of performance week in, week out. But like the kid with untapped talent who sits on the bench game after game, UV laser depaneling is often overlooked as a key component of the SMT assembly line.
Like the mild mannered reporter, depaneling doesn’t stand out in the crowd compared to PCB design, circuit etching, and component placement. But depaneling is really an overlooked potential superhero in the PCB manufacturing process. Do it right, and you can meet or even increase production yield goals and rule the plant floor. Do it wrong, or do it with the wrong tools or process, and you could end up being the villain with damaged components, too much waste, and not enough production yield.
The top five reasons manufacturers are turning to UV laser PCB depaneling.
Does it bother you that you’re using a depaneling tool commonly referred to as a pizza cutter when you’re working on sophisticated PCBs populated with highly sensitive components for military, aerospace, or other precision high tech applications? We thought so. The mechanical stress to the board alone and its impact on yield percentage and quality drives designers and production managers crazy. But your CFO has suggested a UV laser PCB depaneling machine isn’t justified. So you’re left with little choice other than to rely on basic depaneling processes utilizing punches, routers, saws and even your bare hands.