Business Setup for PCB Assembly

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PCB assembly and design is a perfect opportunity for entrepreneurs who have a good electronics knowhow. This business can be started with a relatively small infrastructure and capital investment

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are used in almost all electronic and electrical products, ranging from consumer gadgets such as PCs, tablets, smartphones and gaming consoles to industrial and high-tech products in strategic and medical electronics domains. These provide the base and connectivity to various electronic components such as resistors, capacitors, coils, pots, diodes, transistors, ICs and transformers to complete the electronic circuit.

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PCB assembly and design is a perfect opportunity for entrepreneurs who have a good electronics knowhow. This business can be started with a relatively small infrastructure and capital investment. In this article, we enlist the steps to set up a small-scale PCB assembly business.

Market potential

India is one of the fastest growing electronics market in the world and is anticipated to reach US$ 400 billion in 2022, with domestic manufacturing climbing to over US$ 100 billion. This staggering growth leads to immense potential for the PCB market.

According to an ELCINA study, domestic market demand for PCBs will grow annually at 20.56 per cent over the period 2015-20, and reach over US$ 6 billion by 2020 from the current level of US$ 2.38 billion (see table). Consumer electronics, LED lighting, automotive electronics and industrial electronics are all major drivers for the PCB industry.

The current US$ 2.38-billion market represents demand for all types of PCBs, including bare-board as well as populated PCBs. Only 35 per cent of this demand is met by local manufacturers. Demand for bare-board PCBs is worth US$ 1.2 billion. Only 30 per cent of this demand is met by local PCB manufacturers. Thus this is the perfect time to start PCB assembly (PCBA) business.

Business setup

According to the size of operation, PCBA manufacturing units can be categorised as follows:

  1. Large-volume manufacturing
  2. Small-volume manufacturing
  3. Small-volume fast-delivery manufacturing
  4. Small-volume complex-design PCB manufacturing

Requirements of space, machinery, utilities like water and electricity, etc vary for all these categories.

Raw materials

The major raw materials required include solder, flux, chemicals, adhesive, wires and PCB. The PCBA process always starts with the base, which is the most basic unit of a PCB. It consists of several layers, each of which plays a significant role in the functionality of the final PCB. These alternating layers include:

1. Substrate. This is the base material that imparts rigidity to the PCB.

2. Copper. A thin layer of conductive copper foil is added to functional sides of the PCB.

This is the layer of copper traces. In single-side PCBs, copper is applied on only one side. Double-side PCBs have copper on both sides.

3. Solder mask. On top of the copper layer is the solder mask, which gives each PCB its characteristic green colour. It insulates copper traces from unintentionally contacting other conductive materials, thus preventing shorting. The solder keeps everything in its place. Holes in the solder mask are where solder is applied to attach components to the board. Solder mask is a vital step for smooth manufacturing of PCBA since it stops soldering on unwanted parts with shorts avoided.

4. Silkscreen. A white silkscreen is the final layer on the PCB board. It adds labels to the PCB in the form of characters and symbols. This helps to indicate the placement of all components on the board.

These materials and components remain largely the same across all PCBs, with the exception of the substrate. The substrate material of a PCB changes according to the finished product requirements such as low cost and bendability.

Machinery and tools

The must-have PCB assembly machineries include:

  1. Heat-wave soldering machine
  2. Oscilloscope (50MHz)
  3. LCR-Q meter
  4. Function generator
  5. Power supply (0-30V, 3A)
  6. 4½-digit digital multimeter
  7. Analogue multimeter
  8. Magnifying glass fitted with tube light
  9. Temperature-controlled soldering station
  10. Soldering iron (25W)
  11. Soldering iron (65W)
  12. Variac
  13. Rheostat

Additional machineries, equipment and tools may be required depending on the nature of the final product, scale of operation, quality compliance requirements, etc. These include but are not limited to:

1. Torque-controlled screwdrivers (electric and pneumatic) to tighten screws and to speed up the production work. Various models are available in electric (AC and DC) and pneumatic categories.

2. Liquid dispensers to dispense glue, epoxy, solder paste, etc. Different kinds of dispensers are available, such as general dispensers, robotic dispensers, rotary dispensers, valves and valve controllers.

3. BGA and other repair or rework machinery

4. Tools such as wire and cable strippers, electronic pliers and screwdrivers, crimping tools, thermal wire strippers, heat guns, cable cutters, test and measuring instruments for power utility, and LAN testers.

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18 COMMENTS

  1. I want to setup this plant at a small scale so whom to contact please tell my contact details 9981766980

  2. Hi I am interested in setting up a small scale plant in my zone Bbsr please suggest me whom to contact my number 8338998877

  3. I am interested about this project, so how can I start I mean which is the market that we will probably satisfy, and if is available around the world. I am in Trujillo north coast of Peru.

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