PCB ABC

The WEdirekt PCB ABC is an encyclopedia with an explanation of more than 120 technical terms of printed circuit board technology.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Alkaline Etching

Different to acid etching – where an acid is used to remove the copper – the alkaline etching process uses a base etchant (e.g. ammonia sulphate) to etch away unwanted copper from the PCB.

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Altium Designer

Altium is software that is used to design the PCB layout. WEdirekt is able to process your PCB data generated from Altium. More information can be found here.

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Annular ring

The annular ring is the copper that surrounds the drilled hole.

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Assembly

Assembly generally means populating the PCB with components.

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Barrel

A barrel is the copper coating in a through-hole (copper barrel).

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Base copper

The base copper is the copper layer on the raw PCB material. On the outer layers, this forms the initial point for subsequent coatings of copper. If, for example, the customer requires a copper thickness of 35 μm, the base copper will be 18 μm. The remaining 17 μm will be added during the through-hole plating process.

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Base material

The base material is the raw material. Base materials are available with different thicknesses, base copper thicknesses, electrical and physical properties to meet a number of PCB application requirements.

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BGA

BGA is the acronym for Ball Grid Array. This refers to components that do not make connections to the PCB through conventional pins, but by means of ball-shaped connections. There is a space saving advantage here; a higher number of connections are possible as the connections are located underneath the component.

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Blind Via

Blind vias are vias, which are connect an outer layer to either an inner layer, or a number of inner layers, but do not pass through the entire PCB and are therefore not visible from one side.

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Bottom, BOT, backside, solder side, RS

The term „Bottom“ refers to the bottom side of the PCB. Other current terms are solder side, backside, or BOT.

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Buried Vias

Buried vias are buried drill holes, which are not visible from outside. Before the multilayer pressing process begins, buried vias are drilled into the multilayer core. Then they get plated and filled.

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Burr

A burr can occur at the edge of a PCB if the copper is cut during the routing process. This, however, depends on several factors. Therefore, we recommend you to clear back the copper from the contour according to our specifications.

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CAD

The acronym CAD means Computer Aided Design. This is the computer-assisted creation of a design. In PCB manufacture, the term refers to the creation of PCB layouts.

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CAM

CAM means Computer Aided Manufacturing. In the PCB manufacture, this refers to data preparation for production, which takes place after the CAD design of the PCB has been completed.

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Chemical Tin

Chemical tin or immersion tin (immersion Sn) is a PCB surface finish. It is planar and easy to solder. The disadvantages of this surface finish are shorter storage life and a high level of sensitivity. More information on surfaces can be found here.

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Coating

Coating describes the application of surface finishes on your PCB. For example with electroless Ni / immersion Au, chemical tin or HAL lead-free. Coating with lacquers (e.g. solder resist) can also be meant here.

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Component

Components are parts used for the assembly of the PCB. These can be requested and ordered from Würth Elektronik eiSos GmbH & Co. KG.

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Component drill

A component drill is a plated through hole, into which components can be placed. These holes are generally bigger, so that the pins of the components can be inserted.

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Conductive pattern

Conductive pattern is the generic term for the structures of a layout.

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Contour

The contour defines the outline of your PCB.

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Copper clearance

The copper clearance refers to different locations of the PCB. For example, a certain distance from the copper to the contour must be maintained. This also affects conductor tracks and pads. See our specification for more information.

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Copper foil, copper thickness

The copper foil is bonded to the base material. On the outer layers, it is important to be clear about whether the copper thickness is the base copper thickness or the finished copper thickness.

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Copper layer

The term "copper layer" refers to the individual conductive layers of your PCB layout which will be manufactured from copper.

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Copper outer layer

The copper of the outer layers of your PCB consists of the base copper and the copper that is applied during the production processes. If, for example, you order 35μm copper, we start with 18μm copper foil on the outer layers. The remaining copper is applied during the manufacturing process of the PCB.

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Copper inner layer

Inner layer copper is available from 4 layers.

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Copper surface

The copper surface usually refers to the areas of your PCB that are covered with copper. Depending on the layout, copper balancing can be advisable (i.e. additional copper to keep the copper distribution in the layout as even as possible).

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Copper plating

Copper plating is the copper, which is applied to a PCB. In the WEdirekt configurator we always refer to the finished copper.

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Corrosion

From a technical point of view, "corrosion" means the reaction of a material with its environment, causing a change or impairment of the material. Rust is a classic example of corrosion. This process can also appear on the surface of PCBs. Please note the "lifetime" of our surfaces according to our specifications.

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Delivery date

The WEdirekt delivery date is the day that your PCBs leave our premises.

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Delivery panel

We can deliver a PCB in two ways: as single PCBs or as delivery panels. A delivery panel is a board with more than only one outline. This can be a simple delivery panel frame or delivery panel made up from several individual PCBs. We always supply these delivery panels as an entire panel, i.e. we do not separate the boards.

In the WEdirekt Online-Shop, you can choose either a "Delivery panel from data" or "Delivery panel using online configurator".

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Delivery panel tab, break-off tab, delivery panel frame

A tab is something which keeps the PCB in contact with the surrounding material after routing. It is mainly used in delivery panels to connect the boards with each other and to the panel frame.

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Design, Layout

The design or layout (file) is the designed PCB layout data, which is necessary for the production of your PCB.

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Design rules

The design rules include the widths and spacing specifications and their tolerances on the PCB.

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Dimension

A dimension can be information within the layout data or an additional document (e.g. a PDF). The dimension describes the dimensions of a PCB. In case of questions, such a document can be very helpful for the PCB manufacturer.

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Double-sided PCB

A double-sided PCB is also called a 2-layer or DS-board. A double-sided board is a PCB with two copper layers, one on each side.

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DRC

DRC is the acronym for Design Rule Check. The layout is checked against the production specifications, or in other words, the design rules.

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Drill diameter

The drill diameter is the diameter of the drill tool. In PCB production drill tools of 0.10mm up to 6mm are available.

Drilling small holes is a relatively complex process, but the through hole plating of such small holes can be even more challenging. This is the reason why many PCB manufacturers do not offer drill holes of less than 0.20mm. Holes which are larger than 4.00mm are often routed. This can be beneficial to the hole quality, since large drill tools often cause more burr than a milling tool. More information can be found here.

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Drill files

The drill files indicates the drill diameters and drill positions on the PCB. Please also have a look at our specifications.

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Drill tool

In PCB production, there are drill tools available from 0.10mm up to 6.00mm. Please also see drill tool diameter for more information.

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ECO Stencil

The ECO stencil is our lowest cost stencil type. It is a stencil with a size of max. DIN A4 with up to 1.000 pads.

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Edge protection

We offer this for SMD stencils having a self-tensioning frame system. In this case, the edges of the metal stencil are crimped. This minimizes the risk of injury from sharp edges. As a positive side effect, the stability of the metal stencil increases.

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Electrical test

The electrical test is carried out to ensure the correct electrical connections are present between the structures and the layers. The PCB is tested for short circuits and open circuits. Please be aware that the test is based on the connections present in your PCB layout, so if you have a short circuit in your original data, this will not be recognised as a short circuit in the e-test.

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Electroless nickel immersion gold

Electroless nickel immersion gold (ENIG) is a PCB surface finish. It is very planar, aluminium wire bondable, has a good solderability and a long storage life. Its disadvantage is the relatively high process costs. More information on surfaces can be found in our specifications.

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ENIG

ENIG is the acronym for “Electroless Nickel Immersion Gold“.

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Etching technology

Etching technology is a highly precise and strictly controlled subtractive process, used for the production of complex metal parts with the finest details. The final structuring of the copper features in the PCB is made with etching technology.

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European format

The European format is a standard size for PCBs measuring 100mm x 160mm.

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Exposure

The structures of your PCBs are imaged during the manufacturing process "exposure". A similar process is also used when applying the solder resist.

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Extended Gerber

Extended Gerber Format is the preferred format of many PCB manufacturers (also from Würth Elektronik). We of course also work with other formats.

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Fiducials

Fiducials are usually used for the exact alignment of the PCB or stencil for the assembly.

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Fiducial cross

A fiducial cross is fiducial in the shape of a cross. See also Fiducials.

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Final copper

The final copper thickness consists of the base copper and the plated copper. It is the final thickness of the copper structure on the PCB. Please also see our specifications.

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Final inspection

During final inspection the quality of the PCBs is inspected and any potential manufacturing defects will be detected.

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Flexible PCBs

Flexible PCBs differ from standard PCBs due to their flexibility caused by the use of very thin material (polyimide).

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Text line width

Often the text line width will be a feature in the silkscreen layer. It is common for the name of the PCB and other general information to be indicated in the silkscreen layer. Please see our design rules in our specification.

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FR4

Base material of epoxy resin fiberglass composite.

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GC Preview

GC Preview is a software used to create layout data. More information can be found here.

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Gerber

Format for PCBs. The copper, solder mask, silkscreen and paste layers are defined in this format. Please also see Extended Gerber.

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Gold

See ENIG.

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Gold-plating

See hard gold.

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HAL lead-free

HAL is the acronym for "Hot Air Levelling", i.e. hot air tinning. This is a method to tin PCBs. HAL lead-free is a lead-free tinned surface finish on the PCB. This surface allows you to solder and to store your PCBs for a long period of time.

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Hard gold

The hard gold surface finish consists of an underlying nickel layer and an overlying gold layer. The gold is electroplated. The typical gold layer thickness is between 0.5μm and 1.2μm.

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HDI Microvia

The acronym HDI refers to "High Density Interconnect". HDI PCBs are characterised by very fine structures and small holes. In times of miniaturisation, HDI Microvia PCBs become more and more crucial.

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Inner layer

Inner layers are copper layers, which are present inside the PCB, i.e. copper layers that are not the top layer or the bottom layer.

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Insulation spacing

The insulation spacing describes the spacing between lines, pads and plated holes.

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IPC

IPC (Institute of Printed Circuits) is an institute that produces standards for PCB manufacturing.

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Laser

The term "laser" is often used when talking about "HDI Microvia" technology, as the microvias are created by a laser drilling process.

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Laser cut

This term refers to the production of our stencils. The stainless steel stencils are always cut with a laser. This applies to both, the contour and the perforations within the template.

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Layer naming

In fact, there are no uniform regulations regarding the naming of the various layers. To avoid any confusion, we ask you to choose the layer names according to the data format you are using. To our specifications.

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Layer stack-up

The layer stack-up of our PCBs conform with our WEdirekt standard stack-ups (please see our specifications).

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Layout file

The layout file is the data we need to produce your PCB. We can process all common data formats in Extend Gerber, Altium, EAGLE, ODB++, and Target 3001.

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Layout software

The layout software is used to create the layout data.

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LDI

LDI refers to Laser Direct Imaging, the direct laser exposure. With this process, PCB layout features can imaged directly, without the use of a film.

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Copper plane

Copper planes are areas in the PCB layout which consist of a complete copper surface

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Mechanical drilling

Mechanical drilling means classical drilling, i.e. the introduction of a hole into the PCB by means of a drilling tool.

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Mechanics

The term "mechanics" refers to different mechanical processes like drilling, routing or scoring.

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Metal stencil

Metal stencil is another word for SMD stencil.

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Microvia

A microvia is a small, laser-drilled hole used in HDI Microvia technology. More information about our HDI PCBs can be found in the WEdirekt Design Guide.

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Multi panel

A multipanel is a delivery panel that contains different PCB layouts. Please also see delivery panel.

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Multilayer

All PCBs with more than 2 layers, are called multilayer.

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Non-plated through holes, NPTH

These are holes that do not have any copper plating.

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Layour count

The layer count refers to the number of copper layers in the PCB design. At WEdirekt, you can get 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16 layer boards.

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Outer layer

The top and bottom layers are also known as outer layers of the PCB. These layers are visible and accessible. Only the outer layers can later be assembled with components.

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ODB++

ODB++ is a data format which we are able to handle.

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Pad

The pad is a copper surface which is either directly soldered onto or in which a hole is created. The circulating residual material around the hole is known as annular ring.

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Pad optimization

Pad optimization is applied to our stencils (if required). It is often advantageous if the pad openings in the stencil are smaller (or even larger) than the associated pad in the conductor pattern. In this case, we can optimise the paste data according to your wishes.

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Pad reduction

The pad reduction is a possible variant of pad optimization. The pads are reduced by the desired value.

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Panel frame

A panel frame can be added to the PCB, if required. It is often used as an aid in assembly.

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Panel utilisation

Panel utilisation refers to the amount of the production panel that contains PCBs. The better the panel utilisation, the less waste that is created. This is the great advantage of WEdirekt. In the pooling process, we place different orders on one production panel and, by doing so, we ensure an optimal panelisation, which leads to low prices.

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Paste data

The paste data is necessary for the stencil production. Important: we do not create the paste data. If it is present in the single layout of your PCB, we will create the paste data in panel. However, we do not create it ourselves (from the copper or soldering pads).

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Paste stencil

See SMD stencil.

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PCB contour

See contour.

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PCB manufacturer

A PCB manufacturer is a producer of PCBs.

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PCB name

The PCB name is the name or part number of the PCB. Our advice: if you add the name of the PCB onto the PCB, then use the same reference on the order and when naming the PCB production files in your dataset.

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PCB size

The size of the PCB depends largely on the purpose of your PCB. More about the possibilities at WEdirekt can be found here.

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PCB thickness

At WEdirekt, we offer various material thicknesses (PCB thicknesses). We always refer to the final thickness of the PCB. More information can be found here.

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Polishing

We offer polishing as an optional addition to our stencils. When polishing, both the surface of the stencils and the pad walls are refined.

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Pool, Pooling

The reason for the favourable prices at WEdirekt is the type of production. PCB orders with matching technical characteristics are produced together on a production panel. This optimises the production utilisation and saves costs. The PCB manufacturer thus uses the "pool" of existing orders and is able to produce in a cost-effective and efficient way through the "pooling process".

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Prepreg

Prepreg is an abbreviation for pre-impregnated. This refers to the fiberglass material, which is pre-impregnated with a resin. The resin serves to bond the copper layers of the PCBs together by means of the production step "pressing".

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Production data

The term "production data" refers to the layout data, which has been prepared by us for production.

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Production panel

The production panel is the panel of material from which your PCBs are created. As a PCB manufacturer, we often speak about the usable area on a production panel. This is the area of the panel which can be used to produce the ordered PCBs. There can easily be a number of PCBs or delivery panels on one production panel.

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PTH, plated through holes

In PCB manufacture, the drills that contain a coating of copper are referred to as plated through holes.

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Reference point

A reference point in a layout is used to ensure correct dimensioning.

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RoHS

RoHS is acronym for "Restriction of Hazardous Substances" and serves to limit the use of certain hazardous substances. All of our PCBs are RoHS conform.

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Rout program

The rout program is created according to the rout files.

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Routing

During the routing process the required outline of the PCB is created and the PCBs are removed from our production panel. Routing is a mechanical process and there are a number of different sized routing tools available. The most common router is 2.00mm. Smaller routing tools down to 0.5mm are also possible, but using smaller routing tools can have an impact on the PCB manufacturing costs. For example with smaller routing tools it may not be possible to rout a number of panels simultaneously.

Compared to scoring, routed edges are characterised by a clean cut and smaller tolerances. However, routing is one of the most time-consuming steps during PCB production. This should be considered if you order online samples, which later will go into larger series volumes.

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Routing channel

The resulting distance between the residual material and the PCB after routing. The width of the routing channel can vary depending on the diameter of the routing tool.

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Routing contour

The specified outline, which defines the shape of the final product. The contour of the final product is separated from the remaining material along the centre of this line.

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Routing overhang

A small overhang that remains at the entry and exit points of the cutter. This can be removed by filing.

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Scoring

When scoring, the PCBs are scored to a defined residual web. Scoring is mostly used for delivery panels. The advantage of scored PCBs is that you easily can separate them. More information about scoring can be found here.

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Scoring program

The scoring program defines the scoring positions. The mechanical department works according to this program.

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Self-tensioning frame system

The term self-tensioning frame system relates to stencils. If you use such a system for assembly, you need a suitable stencil.

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Short circuit

A short circuit occurs when two connections at different potentials unintentionally meet. This can be caused by a layout error. However, a short circuit may also occur during PCB manufacture or further processing of the PCBs. For this reason, we always include an e-test for our multilayer boards. Short-circuits caused by production can thus be virtually excluded. See also e-test.

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Silkscreen

The silkscreen is a marking method for PCBs. It is also called legend print or annotation print. The silkscreen print is applied by means of a screen printing process or by full-surface printing with subsequent printing and development. For the latter, no screen is required, which makes this process suitable for small quantities.

Recently, the process can also be carried out using a special type of printer, which is similar to an inkjet printer. Consequently, even single pieces are relatively cheap to print, since no film is necessary for the exposure.

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Single PCB

A single PCB is a PCB which is supplied with no delivery panel or handling frame. Only the contour and internal cut-outs will be routed.

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SMD stencil

The SMD stencil is used for the assembly of PCBs. WEdirekt offers all common stencils: simple ECO stencils, which are perfect for manual assembly, as well as SMD stencils for self-tensioning frame systems or frame stencils. You can find all available stencil types in our stencil configurator.

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Solder pad

The solder pad is a solid copper pad or the annular ring around a plated through hole on which the component is soldered.

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Solder resist

The solder resist serves different purposes on the PCB. It protects against corrosion and mechanical damage. It prevents short circuits and the wetting of certain surfaces during soldering. It insulates components againstfrom the circuit board surface and improves the dielectric strength of your PCB. You can find more information about the solder resist here.

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Soldermask

Soldermask is another word for solder resist.

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Spacing

In printed circuit board terminology, the term "spacing" can refer to various things. For example, it can be the area between two tracks, between two copper features or between the layers of the multilayer stack-ups, etc. In most cases, the type of spacing in question can easily be ascertained from the context.

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Specification

The general specification describes the parameters for PCB manufacturing. At WEdirekt, all PCBs are produced as per our general specification.

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Standard stack-up / stack up

The standard stack-up means the standard layer stack-up. Individual stack-ups cannot be offered online. You can find our stack-ups in our specifications.

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Stencil size

The stencil size can vary, depending on the type of stencil required. If you are using a self-tensioning frame system, the size is already defined. If you need a simple stencil without edge tooling holes for mounting, it is recommended to determine the size using the corresponding PCB. We recommend an addition of 30mm.

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Stencil thickness

The stencil thickness can be selected in the stencil configurator.

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Structures

The structures are part of the layout pattern (spacing and line width).

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Surface

The surface of the PCB protects against oxidation and enables soldering of the PCB. All information about the WEdirekt surfaces can be found here.

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Target

Target is a program for creating PCB layouts.

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Tolerances

There are many different tolerances in PCB production, e.g. for the total thickness, for routing and scoring. Go to tolerances.

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Tool diameter

The tool diameter is important for the drilling process. To reach your requested final diameter, we drill 0.15mm larger on plated through holes. During the production process we put copper in the hole to reach the final thickness.

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Track spacing

The track spacing is the spacing between two tracks or between track and pad. This is also known as insulation distance.

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Track width

The track width is the width of a track.

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UL marking

UL marking is an official marking / certification that confirms that we as a PCB manufacturer are safety tested with regard to electrical fire and accident risks. The certificate is issued by Underwriters Laboratories Inc. You can find our certificate here:

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Via

A via is a plated through hole, which connects the layers with each other. A via is a plated through hole without THT assembly.

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Via drill

A via hole is a plated hole which is used for connecting layers.

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Via-Plugging

A plugged via is a via hole which is sealed with a non-conductive material. WEdirekt produces according to IPC 4761 Typ III-a.

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