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Technicians, shipment specialists, and inspectors are some of the different PCB assembly jobs available within the manufacturing industry. Some workers may build physical printed circuit boards (PCBs) by hand, while others control and adjust a robotic machine to construct more complicated board configurations. Most PCB assembly jobs require some background in electronics, such as a trade school, but employers will still need to train workers to configure the particular modules used in their industry.
One of the main positions in PCB assembly jobs is working as a technician. These workers will place electronic components onto a fresh circuit board and run them through soldering processes to permanently adhere the PCB together. The large majority of devices consumers use, from a stove top oven to a cell phone, have some form of PCB within their construction; technicians will interpret circuit schematics and construct a PCB that will provide the functions that a consumer will use.
A completed board must be packaged correctly for distribution to other factories across the world; shipment specialists will wrap the these boards with static resistant packaging to ensure that the components are safe from physical damage, as well as from static electricity. These PCB assembly jobs are extremely important since boards will commonly be discarded or recycled if damaged, which can be costly for the manufacturer. Inspectors must visually examine and test the PCB before any shipment processes can begin. After the technician completes the board's construction, the inspector places each piece in a test fixture; he or she will power the circuitry and test all the functions. In large, mass production companies, each board cannot be tested since the volume is so vast; in response, many companies will test several boards from each batch to ensure quality parameters are working within specification.
Before the computer and automation age, PCB assembly jobs required workers to form boards by hand; employees would physically place components onto a circuit board and use a soldering iron to individually adhere each piece. Although some manufacturers still hand solder boards, most production lines use automated machines controlled by employees. The worker must periodically adjust the machine's position and timing to ensure a properly built PCB. In fact, some workers may need troubleshooting skills to examine a malfunctioning machine; an unexpected breakdown can be costly to the company.
Each employer has a slightly different way of building PCBs. Although a worker may have extensive schooling in his or her background, a new employee must still be trained to construct a proprietary circuit type. Once the worker is comfortable with the particular board production process, he or she can work independently.