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What is the impact on a PCB design if it is panelized? I received a message from a PCB manufacturer:

In your order, the quantity of boards is large and the boards are quite small. Can we panelize the boards for easier handling? If no, will cost an extra $32USD additional

While I wouldn't mind saving $32, I'm also worried the panelization will leave ragged marks on the PCB edges. Is that the case?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It depends on how they are cut - is the manufacturer offering to "individualize" them for you? The manufactured PCBs that I have had panelized were cut apart by me on a precision band saw and came out perfect, so if you have the tools it can easily be done. \$\endgroup\$ – Tyler Stone Jul 4 at 4:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's all the manufacturer said. The design has no straight edges -- all edges are curved. \$\endgroup\$ – Kayvon Jul 4 at 4:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ If all edges are curved, then V-grooves are out of the question. It will probably be tab routed which can leave a mark where the tab is broken. Apparently, panelization is an art with lots of different factors and consequences such as not stressing populated components when de-panelizing after automated assembly, not flexing too much but being rigid enough for assembly. I think you can also get routed de-panelizing which would leave a smooth edge. \$\endgroup\$ – DKNguyen Jul 4 at 4:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's what I suspected. Thank you for the confirmation. \$\endgroup\$ – Kayvon Jul 4 at 4:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kayvon Talk with the board house about their depanelizing options. There is a type of tab routing where the tab is not meant to be broken or sheared, but is meant to be routed. This would leave a clean edge (i.e. the curves your the rest of your PCB are made using a router). \$\endgroup\$ – DKNguyen Jul 4 at 4:27
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Panelization helps your PCB cost, and it also helps assembly if your board is small.

You have a couple of options for panelization. If your board is square or rectangular, it can be scribed with with a V-groove and broken apart to singulate it after assembly. The board will have a smooth, straight edge.

If your board has an irregular shape, it will be shaped by routing, so it will be attached to the main panel by small gaps (tabs) in the routed-out slots. After assembly, the board is singulated by cutting the tabs with shears / diagonal cutters. This leaves behind a nub. You can request the assembly house to clean this up if it's a problem.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Depanelization can break caps in the wrong orientation near the V groove when snapped. so design must be reviewed. Routed edges with recessed 3 micro vias leaves no protrusion is Ok for wave soldering if you tell them how it will be handled. \$\endgroup\$ – Tony Stewart Sunnyskyguy EE75 Jul 4 at 5:33

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