A Complete Guide on What Is Silkscreen on a PCB

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You already know that all electronic devices consist of a circuit board. Without the circuit board, your device won't work. That circuit board is known as PCB. Manufacturing a PCB consists of several steps.

Importance of Silkscreen on a PCB:

The last step of manufacturing a PCB is adding a silkscreen layer to the PCB. Silkscreen is about adding traces to all the components you have installed on the PCB. Silkscreen will let you know the component type, for example, symbols, logos, marks, test points, etc.

 You won't be able to detect the component without silkscreen help. Most PCB manufacturers use silkscreen on the PCB's component section. You might have an idea about What silkscreen is on a PCB and its role.

  • Silkscreen is made up of non-conductive epoxy ink and is highly formulated. You will find silkscreens in a variety of shades.
  • The three common silkscreen colors used by most manufacturers are black, yellow, and white. You can apply standard fonts in silkscreen layers while using PCB software.

In further detail, you will learn more about What Is Silkscreen On a PCB? So, if you want answers to all your questions, you need to read the whole detailed article.

Role of silkscreen on a PCB you need to know about;

Let's talk about google maps. If you want to go somewhere, you will add the name of your destination and follow the route to reach your destination. A silkscreen plays the same role when it comes to a PCB.

You will find the route and detail of the components you have etched on the PCB. You will get to know the component's location and route with the silkscreen's help.

  • So, a silkscreen plays quite a crucial role in the manufacturing and testing of a PCB. The technology is evolving with every passing day, and now a silkscreen provides images of artwork design that you have done on the PCB.
  • A silkscreen allows the end-users to identify the components on the PCB. Let's talk about the important roles a silkscreen plays for you:
  • It allows you to identify the testing points quickly, circuit points, part interconnect, etc.
  • If you are facing any problem because your PCB is not working, then the silkscreen will help you to troubleshoot the problem.
  • Whenever replacing or designing evaluation is required, you can get all the help from the silkscreen of the PCB.
  • A silkscreen will help you safe by showing you the warning signs on the board.

Most of the time, manufacturers use silkscreen for marketing and branding purposes.

PCB

How to design a silkscreen on a PCB?

Here is the step-by-step guide that will help you to do the job without any error:

Draw a design

You can get help from computer-aided software that will allow you to design the artwork of the silkscreen by using its font. Such software helps you to get the work done more easily and conveniently.

You will have to design the silkscreen circuitry, layer, and other elements of the PCB. First, you will have to choose your silkscreen menu, and then you can hop on to the next step of making the design. So, choose the options wisely in the menu so you don't have to start all over again at the end.

Start preparing the board

Once you are done with your CAD blueprint, it is time to do the real job. Time to start working on the hardware implementation. You have to be very careful while working on this step, especially when manufacturing a high-quality PCB.

You need to select the board type you will be using in the production process. Once you select the board time to get the print on the board, get the print carefully without causing any error in the process. The rest of the work depends on your print on the board.

Printing of silkscreen

You got the print on the board, then. Now it is time to get a print of your silk screen. One of the most crucial phases of manufacturing a high-end PCB. First, you need to fix the board on the printing machine, and then the machine will start moving upward, downward, and sideways to make a print on the board.

Handling of PCB

Once you are done with the printing work, you have to handle the board quite carefully to maintain its quality of the board. You should ensure that the quality of the board has not been affected by silkscreen. For this, you will have to ensure the quality through 12 steps.

Start inspection

You will have to inspect the PCB while performing the handling step and after the processing steps. The main reason for inspecting the PBC is to check the quality of the board, whether everything about it is perfectly fine or not. This process also helps you to distinguish whether the printed information is readable to the human eye or not.

Time for silkscreen treatment

The last step in the guide is the PCB screen printing process. Now it is time to treat your silkscreen print and do an inspection on whether it is ready to use or not. This step will let you know about the quality of the silkscreen.

Silkscreen PCB methods to understand the basics of it

The silkscreen method consists of several factors like the cost of making the silkscreen, the precision that will be required, time, and the material on the board you will be installing later. So, you will have to take care of all these details.

We don't have to dig any deeper into these details. Let's stick to the subject of What Is Silkscreen On a PCB? Let's discuss the silkscreen methods now:

  • Liquid photo imaging

In LPI, you need to laminate the PCB with epoxy first. Epoxy comes with photo imaging properties, and you can transfer the silkscreen print to the plates via UV light exposure.

The precision level will be great if you use the LPI silkscreen method. This method requires less space as compared to any other silkscreen method. The only drawback of this method is that it consumes more ink and the setup time is also more than any other method.

If you want to save PCB space and have the finest silkscreen printing, then you can use the LPI method.

  • Manual screen printing

The oldest and most affordable silkscreen method is manual screen printing. You will use epoxy ink to perform this method. Generally, you will have to put ink into the laminate and then dry it to achieve your desired silkscreen print.

One of the major beneficial facts about MSP is that you can manage the setup requirement. It requires a large board and drying method. If you want to minimize your expense, spacing is not a problem for you, and then you can go for this silkscreen method.

  • Direct legend printing

The last silkscreen method on the list is DLP. You are going to use the same principle as a page printer. You print something on paper while using a page printer; this is the same procedure you will have to follow here. You can use high-end inkjet printers that can transfer ink from the printer into the board.

It is a modern silkscreen method with accuracy, saving you a lot of time and effort. You will save on time and cost if you for this silkscreen method. The only drawback of this method is that you can not use it for PCB with silver materials.

How much does a PCB silkscreen cost?

The cost of a PCB silkscreen depends on the type of PCB you will design. Plus, the printing technique you are using also affects your budget. If you print both sides of the PCB, then it will double the cost. So, the cost of your silkscreen depends on a variety of factors.

Never stuff your silkscreen with too many points

Suppose you add too many details on the silkscreen, then how will you be able to detect the points on the PCB? Stuffing PCB with too many details will make the work harder for you.

While testing the PCB, if you find any fault and look for the details of the component, you might get a bit confused because of the information stuffing on the board. Therefore, you must be very specific while making the silkscreen on any PCB.

What should be the thickness of the PCB silkscreen?

A PCB silkscreen's ideal thickness must be between 0.18mm to 0.20mm.

Final Remarks:

So, we have discussed every little detail about silkscreen, how you can design it, its roles, and everything. You might have got an answer to your question What Is Silkscreen On a PCB? So, if a task has been assigned to you where you have to make the markings on the PCB, then it is called a silkscreen, and you have to be very careful while performing this task.

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