Normally, most PCBs are individually routed. That doesn't mean sending them to a PCBA factory in a panel isn't a good idea. Generally, PCBA factory doesn't require panels, but there are some cases when they do.
If the individual PCB boards are going to do for Full Proto service, is smaller than 0.75" x 0.75", they should to be panelized. If a PCB board needing Short-Run production service is less than 16 square inches, it needs to be in a panel of at least 16 square inches to qualify for Short Run.
Why else might you want to panelize PCB boards?
Protection — If you got a lot of small PCB boards, it's easier to handle and protect them when they're in a panel. A few panels can be more safely packed coming and going from your company to a PCB factory.
Safety — You could be able to get the PCB boards through a factory quicker. If you have a large quantity and need them very fast, panelize them may let you get them in a short time.With a lot of boards, sometimes it simply isn't physically possible to put them all on the machine, run them and take them off in a short turn time. Panelize them and the machine will be running longer for each board change, which reduces the total run time.
Cost — It may also cost you less. If you use leadless parts like BGAs, QFNs or LGAs, you can usually reduce your cost a bit by panelizing the boards. Leadless parts cost a little extra because of the X-Ray test needed, but the extra handling is mostly per board, rather than per part. One panel of 10 boards with 10 BGA, in total, will cost a little less than 10 individual boards with one BGA each.
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