Most PCBs we receive are individually routed, i.e., not panelized. That doesn't mean that, sometimes, sending them in a panel isn't a good idea, or required. Generally, we don't require panels (sometimes called a pallet), but there are some cases when we do.
If the individual PC board, destined for Full Proto service, is smaller than 0.75" x 0.75", it needs 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.
So... you ask... why else might I want to panelize my PC boards? Keep reading and I'll tell you why.
- First, if you've got a lot of small boards, it's easier to handle and protect then when they're in a panel. A few panels can be more safely packed coming and going from our shop here.
- You may be able to get the through our factory faster. If you have a really large number, and need them super fast, panelizing them may enable that fast turn. With a lot of boards, sometimes, it simply isn't physically possible to put them all on the machine, run them and take them off, in a short turn time. Panelize them and the machine will be running longer for each board change, which reduces the total run time.
- 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 extra handling is mostly per board, rather than per part. One panel of ten boards with ten BGA, in total, will cost a little less than ten individual boards with one BGA each.
Stay tuned for my next few posts where I'll cover the pluses and minuses of different panelization techniques.
"I looked outside my window and what do you think I saw?
The strangest sight I've ever seen you'll never guess just what I mean,
I can't believe it myself"