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V-Scoring vs. Other PCB Separation Methods

Key Takeaways

  • V-scoring is a popular method of PCB separation because of its cost-effectiveness, efficiency, and scalability in mass production.

  • Other PCB separation methods include depaneling routers, punching, tab routing, laser cutting, waterjet cutting, and shearing. 

  • PCB designers must consider the implications of using V-scoring or other PCB separation methods in their designs.

V-scoring method used to separate PCBs

PCB separated using the V-scoring method

V-scoring is one of several methods to separate PCBs, often manufactured using large panels containing multiple boards (known as panelization). V-scoring uses a V-shaped cutting tool that creates a partial cut or groove in the panel so that the individual PCBs can be separated easily after manufacturing. Other PCB separation methods include depaneling routers, punching, tab routing, laser cutting, waterjet cutting, and shearing. The table below compares these PCB separation methods.

Comparison of PCB Separation Methods

Separation Method






Employs a V-shaped cutting tool to create grooves along the PCB's surface

+ Efficient for mass production

+ Cost-effective

+ Quick and easy separation

+ Suitable for manual or automated processes

− Limited to straight-line separations

− Not suitable for complex PCB shapes

✓ High-volume production

✓ Mass manufacturing of identical PCBs

Depaneling Router

Uses a rotating cutter or router bit to cut through the panel material, separating the individual PCBs

+ Precise cuts with minimal stress on boards

+ Suitable for complex PCB shapes

+ Automation possible for increased efficiency

− Generates more debris

− Slower than other methods

✓ PCBs with irregular shapes or complex layouts

✓ High precision requirements


Employs a punching machine to create holes or notches along the panel

+ Fast and cost-effective

+ Suitable for simple PCB designs

+ Minimal debris

− Limited to specific shapes (holes or notches) and materials

✓ High-speed production

✓ Simple board designs

Tab Routing

Uses small tabs of uncut material between individual PCBs, which are removed after manufacture

+ Simple and straightforward

+ Suitable for low-to-medium production volumes

− Leaves tabs that need manual or automated removal

− Not be suitable for high-density or complex designs

✓ Multiple PCBs are fabricated on a single larger panel

✓ Irregular-shaped PCBs

✓ Prototype development

Laser Cutting

Employs a laser beam to cut through the panel material along predefined paths

+ High precision and accuracy

+ Suitable for intricate designs

+ Minimizes stress on PCBs

− Equipment is expensive

− May not be cost-effective for high-volume production

− Requires additional safety measures for laser operation

✓ Fine-pitch components

✓ Delicate or heat-sensitive components

Waterjet Cutting

Uses a high-pressure stream of water mixed with abrasive particles to cut through the panel material

+ Suitable for various materials, including metals

+ High precision and accuracy

+ Minimal stress on PCBs

− Equipment is expensive

− Not as fast as other methods

− Requires careful maintenance to prevent abrasive wear

✓ Sensitive electronic components

✓ Clean and burr-free edges


Employs a mechanical shear to cut through the panel material

+ Quick and cost-effective

+ Simple operation

− Not suitable for complex PCB shapes

− May cause stress on boards

✓ High-volume production where speed is crucial

✓ Separating PCBs with straight edges

The PCB separation method is an integral part of the overall PCB design and manufacturing process. Designers must choose a method that meets the project's requirements regarding precision, cost, and other relevant factors.

How Does V-Scoring Affect PCB Design?

V-scoring is a popular method of PCB separation because of its cost-effectiveness, efficiency, and scalability in mass production. V-scoring is compatible with automated assembly processes, making it a preferred choice for high-volume production where efficiency and affordability are paramount. However, PCB designers must consider the implications of using V-scoring in their design. Here are some ways in which using the V-scoring separation method can affect PCB design:

  • Board Shape: V-scoring is well-suited for rectangular or square-shaped PCBs, but if your design requires an irregular shape, there may be a better separation method than V-scoring.

  • Component Placement: V-scoring can limit component placement near the edges of the PCB, particularly if the grooves come close to critical components, so designers must ensure that no components or traces are too close to the scoring lines.

  • Groove Width and Depth: Designers should consider the dimensions of the groove in relation to the thickness of the PCB to prevent over-cutting or under-cutting issues that could compromise the integrity of the boards.

  • Material Selection: Designers should choose materials compatible with V-scoring to avoid issues such as fracturing or delamination during separation.

  • Minimum Slot Width: V-scoring has a minimum slot width, which affects the number of PCBs placed on a single panel and impacts overall manufacturing efficiency.

  • Edge Clearance: Designers must provide sufficient clearance between the groove and the edge of the PCB to maintain structural integrity. 

  • Assembly: Designers need to be aware of the raised edge created by V-scoring and consider its impact on the subsequent assembly processes.

V-scoring must be carefully considered during the design phase to ensure alignment with project requirements and constraints. A close relationship with the PCB manufacturer is often needed to address specific manufacturing concerns associated with V-scoring.

Cadence Can Help You Consider Manufacturability in Your Design

As a designer, it’s important for you to factor manufacturability into your PCB design. Designing your boards with a PCB board separation method in mind can prevent delays and redesigns. Cadence has the PCB Design and Analysis Software tools, including its  OrCAD PCB Designer, to help you incorporate manufacturability into your design. 

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