Dana on Data: My Holiday Season Data Wishlist

Every year children often start creating their holiday gift list before Halloween. So, I thought that it would be a great idea to provide my holiday present request list to the PCB industry this month. My fundamental wish is simple: I wish to make it easier for designers to output designs and for PCB fabricator front-engineering teams to spend less time reviewing data so they may release production tooling into their factories faster. Secondarily, these requests should reduce the NPI cycle time and cost by reducing the insidious back and forth DFM review Technical Query (TQ) cycle.

Here is my gift wish list:

  1. All PCB CAD and CAM software commit to adding the IPC-2581 revision C import/export functionality by the end of 2023. The industry has done a good job implementing IPC-2581 revision B. Revision C has some nice features. For example, bi-directional and intelligent DFM TQ data. Intentional netlist shorts can be defined so they don’t show-up as netlist failures. Flex and rigid-flex multiple zone handling are greatly enhanced (eliminating many section views on drawings).
  2. PCB and EMS companies establish teams to provide 80% of their detailed PCB capabilities to their customers. Not just the marketing presentation short capability list. Providing the rules that their front-end engineers use to review incoming data should significantly reduce the cycle time during the NPI/DFM process. The industry should create and adopt an industry XML-based standard format for these rules so they can be electronically loaded into the CAE and CAM software.
  3. Computer aided engineering software companies in 2023 new feature releases add more fabricator and assembler design rules over time to their layout and/or post processing DFM software. I’ll wish for an 80% coverage of provided rules. Of course, this requires the manufacturers to provide the rules. While I’m wishing, update the output checks to eliminate clear design problems like legend-on-pad and solder mask-on-pad defects. Why do the fabricators always have to fix these design defects?
  4. PCB material suppliers provide electronically readable files for the relevant technical specifications and material construction tables in a common data format so they can be automatically loaded in the designer and fabricator CAD/CAM systems. Let’s abolish the ePaper method that is used today. FYI, this could be transferred using the IPC-2581 format. Maybe the IPC Student Chapter students could take this on as a 2023 project.
  5. Designers and manufacturers create teams to improve errorless data transfer document packages by 50% by next year’s holiday season. Use existing Lean/Six Sigma principles to Pareto out the defects and target the top three for improvement. Track the percent of data packages that transfer and received. If the current level is that 100% have issues, set a goal to have 50% without issues by the end of 2023.

It would not be fair to only ask the industry for gifts without offering some help. So, I am offering the following documents as gifts to any small company who wants to seriously work to improve data transfer quality. This information is not intended to document 100% of the DFM rules. These provide sufficient detail to significantly reduce information transfer issues. Contact me at dana.korf@korf.com if you are interested.

  1. Design rule template: This document presents common detailed fabricator design rules and common capabilities derived from a large amount of publicly available companies and industry experts. This is an editable, non-copyright protected, PDF file. The goal is for designers to send this to your fabricators to update it with their design rules and technical capabilities. There are over 150 design rule categories with hundreds of rules. The designer can also use this to present their technical requirements to your suppliers.
  2. Acceptability requirements template: The second document provides suggested PCB acceptance and qualification requirements that can be tailored to the PCB functional, environmental, regulatory, and operational requirements. It is also an editable non-copyright protected PDF file. It provides many common IPC specification modifications, additions, and deletions that are commonly specified.

If the industry delivers all these gifts, this column can focus future discussions around forthcoming technology improvements. We can also spend less time and energy trying to enhance 70+ year-old semi-manual old data transfer techniques to create new novel approaches.

Most children don’t really expect to get every item on their wish list. Neither do I. I subscribe to the following Nora Roberts saying: “You don’t always get what you ask for. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”

Now it’s time go shopping to select the Halloween candy that I like; I mean that the trick-or-treat children will enjoy the most.

Dana Korf is the principal consultant at Korf Consultancy LLC.



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