Necessity is the mother of invention – you would have heard this phrase multiple times in your life. Similarly, when you need to invent something, you look for the products or objects to test out your idea, right? When it comes to PCB designing, an SMT stencil prototype is your main need. Knowing the fact that they are easy to use and affordable, you can order them from an online store and fast test your product. This prevents you from spending dollars on a pre-made stencil design that might not suit your requirements. However, to order a stencil prototype online you will have to provide the vendor with your CAD or Gerber files. This will give them an idea of what type of stencil you want for your specific circuit board.
Why Stencil Is Important?
Stencils are important to perfectly place the solder paste on a bare circuit board before it goes into production. Now assume that you don’t want to use stencils for circuit solder printing. What will happen? You will apply the solder paste onto the PCB board with bare hands. Ok, you can do that, but how will you make sure that the solder paste is applied precisely in the right places? Well, that’s the main reason why the SMT stencil prototype is developed. It is the perfect element that helps you to transfer the solder paste onto the PCB board in a hassle-free manner.
How Stencil Is Made?
SMT stencil prototype is made up of stainless-steel material with laser-cut openings to match the places where different components have to be assembled on the PCB board. These laser-cut openings are the guide that tells the solder paste where it needs to go on the circuit board. Once you have glued the stencil on a frame, you need to just apply the solder paste gently on the board through laser-cut openings. To complete this process successfully, you will need a metal squeegee blade. Just one slide over the stencil and you are done.
An important thing you need to keep in mind while buying a PCB stencil is that it should have fine aperture walls and quick release characteristics. Once you have ensured this and purchased the right stencil, you will find it is easy to print hundreds of PCBs without going wrong.
What Are The Issues You Might Face While Applying The Solder Paste By Hand?
1 – It might cause short circuits that would lead to a minor explosion or a fire outbreak.
2 – Some voids might be left on the PCB board if you try to apply the solder paste with your hand.
3 – The final board printing result would not look that great. You may see rough sidewalls in the aperture.
4 – The PCB board might lack precision in the size and position of the apertures.
5 – Last but not least, you may not have the clean, finished, and flat PCB board after solder paste application by hand.
These are some of the reasons why it’s imperative to use SMT stencil for solder paste applications on PCB boards.
What Are The Benefits Of Using Prototype Stencils?
Since prototype stencils are custom-made stencils, that are created using your CAD or Gerber files, it offers a range of benefits you might not have known yet.
1 – It allows you to print bare PCB boards precisely. That means, there is less chance for any errors to occur during solder paste application.
2 – Since bare PCB boards can be printed manually with prototype stencils, it eliminates the need to have any machine setup for solder paste application.
3 – The use of prototype stencils for solder paste application increases your efficiency. To be clear, it will drastically reduce your PCB assembly time with quick alignment and printing.
4 – These stencils are pretty easy to use as it comes with a set of alignment tools. These tools help you fix the stencil over bare PCB board firmly and nicely. Even a layman could also understand the bare board printing process, it’s that easy.
5 – The cost of stencil purchase and usage is pretty low because of the effective design process adopted by manufacturers.
Prototype stencil is considered a quite useful element in the PCB assembly process. It is accountable for eliminating a number of errors that would have caused otherwise. Whether it is uniform and consistent printing or the best release characteristics, a prototype stencil offers you all. All you need to get desired results from a prototype stencil is to provide the manufacturer with well-crafted CAD or Gerber files. Once they have received your stencil requirement in detail, it would be easy for them to fulfil your needs.