At SSI, a critical part of our work is making as many of our projects as possible ourselves. Whether we’re building an earth imaging CubeSat, a balloon-launched rocket, or a mars construction rover, we design our own circuit boards to make sure that every part of the electronics works exactly to our specifications, and so every one of our members can have an experience with the end-to-end design of electronics.
None of that would be possible, however, without our gracious sponsors at Bay Area Circuits, who provide us with the ability to actually manufacture the boards we design – even if we sometimes make mistakes in the process! This week, some of our members got the amazing chance to tour BAC’s factory and see some of the machinery and processes that allow them to produce enormous amounts of circuit boards on time and on schedule.
We got to see the entire process of board manufacture, starting with the heat pressing and chemical plating of the circuit panels. At BAC, a fully automated system is used to carry boards throughout the entire plating process!
The board manufacturing process is similarly automated, with machines of incredible precision that are used to stamp boards with hundreds or thousands of very precise holes, exactly to the design specification.
One of our personal favorite processes, though, was an extra service that BAC offers – a machine that automatically does continuity testing on the entire system using a robotic set of probes. Watching the continuity tester function was an incredible testament to how technology has made possible turn times that previously were absolutely impossible.
Thank you so much to our sponsors at Bay Area Circuits for the experience!