Book Excerpt: 'The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to... Designing for Reality,' IntroductionOctober 3, 2023 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
Excerpt from: The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to... Designing for Reality
The printed circuit board industry is ever growing and changing. As a new generation of PCB designers spearheads innovation across a myriad of electronic device applications, individuals without those specialized skills are increasingly called upon to design boards in order to accelerate product development and drive down costs.
With more of us working to gain board layout experience on the job, Designing for Reality becomes a very pertinent discussion topic in the PCB industry. But what does that phrase even mean and why should we focus on such a topic? For those who may be new to PCB design or possess limited experience, it is crucial to recognize that creating a robust and manufacturable PCB design requires paying close attention to numerous details. There are a lot of unwritten rules, best practice techniques, and design requirements that vary by manufacturer. Learning and understanding these often-subtle factors will give designers a leg up creating realistic board designs and enable them to take their skills from novice up the ranks. The goal of a PCB designer is to create a design that is free from defects that can “kill” the board or make it difficult to manufacture.
Realistic PCB designs should prioritize manufacturability and reliability of the PCB as well as meet the other design requirements. In order to do so, one must account for the production variables associated with individual manufacturing partners.
Whenever I have the opportunity to talk to a PCB designer or students, I encourage them to tour a PCB manufacturing facility to get a better understanding of how the board manufacturing process works. It is mind blowing. There are many more processes and steps required than one would imagine.
I first toured a PCB shop just after college while interviewing for a position as a lab technician. I remember being in awe of all the processes required to turn a design into an actual PCB. In that 50,000 square foot facility, boards were being manufactured using what appeared to be newer, highly innovative machinery right next to older, seemingly outdated equipment.
My curiosity got the better of me that day. I simply had to learn more about these processes, and thus began my career in the PCB industry. For an open-minded designer, there is a lot of great information to be learned from a couple of hours on the shop floor in a PCB manufacturing facility.
We envision this book as a potential substitute for a shop tour and a reference for designers to help them understand the PCB manufacturing process as it relates to their design. Designing for manufacturability requires understanding the production process fundamentals and factors within the process that can lead to variations in manufacturability, reliability, and cost of the PCB. We understand that PCB designers want to create a design that is functional, robust, and fits the economic constraints of the product. Manufacturing partners want to help you do that, so they seek to understand the requirements of the design and build the board to be manufacturable, reliable, high yield, and profitable.
This book is built from the wisdom of 50 years of PCB manufacturing at Sunstone Circuits. I hope that we can use this opportunity to pass that wisdom on to those honing their skills in the craft.
Visit I-007eBooks to continue reading this book.
For this month's PCBAA Member Profile, the focus is on Hari Pillai, president, Technology Components, Sanmina. Hari says, "I think I’ve had a good dose of luck throughout my career. But beyond luck, I had a vision to become a general manager as far back as my undergraduate years. I made all my career decisions based on that. My evaluation criteria was always, “How does this opportunity get me closer to my goal?” Sometimes opportunities come from unexpected places."
There are many ways, dozens to be sure, and most likely many more, to streamline a PCB design. My goal here is to pick a single-digit number of rules to abide by, that can be reasonably adhered to, and provide some bang for the buck. These rules are meant to reduce design scope creep, avoid PCB respins, and improve production yields.
November’s issue of Design007 Magazine had an excellent theme that evolved around design simplification. There were exceptionally good articles about how to reduce over-constrained or needlessly complex designs. One significant time-consuming category is the creation of many design files and drawings which lead to lengthy creation and interpretation time along with the considerable time to resolve conflicting or erroneous information.
On May 11, 2023, Reps. Blake Moore (R-UT) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) introduced the Protecting Circuit Boards and Substrates (PCB) Act to Congress. In October, I had the great pleasure of discussing the bipartisan Protecting Circuit Boards and Substrates Act with Congressman Moore, who represents Utah’s First Congressional District. He shared his thoughts on how supporting and investing in the domestic PCB industry can help bolster American security.
While previous industrial revolutions have introduced factories, mass production, and computer-controlled systems, the advent of Industry 4.0 and the concept of the Smart factory have ushered in a new era in PCB manufacturing. For the PCB industry it is a very ambitious and aspirational objective to evolve from disconnected processes to an integrated system with automated data capture, real-time data analysis, process visualization, autonomous control, and self-correcting processes.