Ask the Experts
June 4, 2007 - Updated
July 4, 2007 - Originally Posted

PCB Singulation

What is the meaning of "PCB singulation" or "lead-free singulation" and why is this important as an EMS company?


Expert Panel Responses

PCB singulation refers to the process of removing individual pcbs from a panel where there may be multiple pcbs in an array format. There are various methods for singulating pcbs including manual breaking, v-score shearing, nibbling, punching, routing, and sawing. Lead-free singulation is not a familiar terminology but I assume it refers to the normal singulation process but on panels assembled with lead-free solder. This requires special attention to the singulation process do to the brittle nature of the lead-free solders. The stress from some depaneling methods could cause cracked solder joints.

Kent Dixon
VP Sales - Americas
Mr. Dixon heads sales in North and South America for Cencorp. Kent holds a BS in mechanical engineering and has been with Cencorp for 8 years. Automated solutions for depaneling, test handling and odd-form placement are Kent's area of expertise.

PCB singulation is the process of removing multiple pieces [PCBs] from the matrix they are carried in through the assembly process, often referred to as the Panel. PCBs are panelized to allow efficiencies in the bare PCB process and in the assembly process. Once reflowed and completed the active circuits need to be separated or "singulated" from each other. Its important when production volumes are high and/or the PCB is sensitive to stress loads that can be induced when singulating PCBs manually. I have never heard of lead free singulation, the process is unaffected by leaded or lead free solder joints.

Allen W. Duck
ATEK llc
Allen Duck is a 20-year Electronics Industry veteran with Global experience in multiple fields of technology and management. He started A-Tek in 2006 to provide a sales and service channel for international equipment companies wishing to offer value based solutions to USA companies.

PCB singulation is the process of separating multiple individual circuit board assemblies from the panel form they were assembled in. Most often this is an automated process but occasionally the panel design can limit the separation method. At Circuit Technology Center we have been tasked to complete the singulation process with a CNC or manual milling equipment. This is not a preferred method but can be completed when needed.

Andy Price
Sales Engineer
Circuit Technology Center
Mr. Price has been a key member of the team at Circuit Technology Center since 1985. He has vast expertise, experience and understanding of complex circuit board rework, repair and modification operations. He is one of the most knowledgeable experts in this area across the globe.
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