Prototypes are an important part during any design process. It enables engineers and designers to test and qualify all aspects of their products before they release them to their end customers.
Modern day products usually have electronics embedded within the design to accomplish all sorts of different functions. Almost all electronic designs require the use of printed circuit boards. New PCB designs are getting smaller and smaller and the electronic components on them are getting more and more sensitive to mechanical vibration and debris.
That’s why almost all new PCB designs are better suited for laser depaneling. However, one of the most important aspects during PCB prototyping is lead time.
This is where laser depaneling is most advantageous, mechanical routing requires a lot of time and cost to setup and is very unforgiving in case of any small change to the design. This is a nightmare for any PCB prototype developer.
With laser routing any design changes reflected on the fabrication files can easily be translated to the Laser systems. This enables extremely quick turn times for any PCB prototype de-paneling project with minimal to non-existent setup costs since most projects don’t usually need any fixtures.
Since laser routing doesn’t involve any vibrations or debris that can damage sensitive components and solder joints, the number of damaged boards during any run cycle is virtually zero. This is a huge advantage for the PCB prototyping phase since samples panels are usually very limited in number since the project design isn’t finalized yet, so designers need every board to count.
After the PCB prototyping phase is finished and the designs are locked down, the next phase will be full-scale production of the product. Laser routing will still remain the best option for production runs. With low cost, quick turn capabilities and limited post fabrication requirements, the transition from PCB prototype to production PCB is seamless.