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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2022

Dana on Data: My Holiday Season Data Wishlist

10-06-2022

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.

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Dana on Data: Time for a Data Format Revolution

07-28-2022

Starting in the 1950s, the Gerber data format, complemented with several paper and electronic files, was used to transfer the physical PCB data from designers to fabricators and assemblers. RS-274-D and RS-274X gave us incremental improvements to the Gerber format, but still required several additional files to transfer all the data. IPC-D-356 was released in 1992 to provide a data transfer quality check. The 274X format with associated file, are still the most predominant data transfer package in use today, 70+ years later. Hard to believe from the highest technology industry on the planet.

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Dana on Data: DFM Issue Reduction—Company-specific PCB Acceptance Specifications

05-26-2022

PCB data packages commonly generate fabricator DFM feedback questions that require resolution. Resolving these issues delays the manufacturing cycle time until the issues are resolved. There are many methods and techniques to reduce the DFM issues, such as working with the fabricator to review proposed stackup materials and impedance structures early in the design cycle. Another common method is to generate a company specific acceptance specification that provides requirements that are not covered in referenced IPC specifications and include negotiated DFM issue resolutions.

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Dana on Data: Is the Customer Always Right?

03-03-2022

Is the customer always right when it comes to customer PCB design data? Fabricators would be taking the design data and building the supplied data verbatim if this was true. The fabricator would only need to compensate conductors to account for etching processes and map finished hole sizes to drill sizes.

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2021

Dana on Data: Understanding Mechanical Drill Size Capability and Cost

09-29-2021

Fabricator capabilities are generally initially provided on a one-page summary as part of the general marketing presentation. The technical values that are presented provide the “check mark” information so the potential customer can determine if the fabricators capability is greater than the design requirements. Often, this is the only method used for design rule knowledge transfer.

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Dana on Data: The Critical Importance of the Fab Product Engineer

07-29-2021

Billions of dollars are spent yearly on CAD and CAM software to produce complex PCB designs and fabricate PCBs. The final technical manufacturing decisions generally are made by one person for each design. This is the PCB fabricator product engineer. But I don’t think most design, procurement, or NPI teams understand how critical this person is to the data transfer success and liability protection.

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Dana on Data: Effective Front-end Engineering External KPIs

05-13-2021

PCB fabricator front-end engineering departments are always under great pressure to be kept small, generate production tooling instantaneously from customer data and never, ever, make a mistake. Key performance indicators (KPI’s) emphasis internal process improvements and are generally simple in nature, such as jobs/person/day and scrap dollars/month.

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Dana on Data: Factory 4.0 NPI Compatible Industry Specification Format

03-11-2021

IPC APEX EXPO’s emphasis on the Connected Factory Initiative based on CFX and IPC-2581 is underway in a virtual mode this month. One area that has not been addressed is the automation of industry technical specifications from organizations like IPC, ASTM, UL, IEC, etc.

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Dana on Data: Factory 4.0 NPI Data Transfer Improvements

01-14-2021

The recently released IPC Connected Factory Initiative scope is similar to other Factory 4.0 models with the same glaring omission: They all seems to assume that the incoming design data can’t be used as-is and must be reviewed and potentially manually modified prior to manufacturing release.

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2020

Dana on Data: Reducing PCB Specification Interpretation Issues

11-12-2020

The PCB industry has accepted a low-quality level of provided documentation from its customers for the past several decades. In this column, Dana Korf reviews one common fabrication print note and asks, “How do you interpret this note?”

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Dana on Data: A Team Method to Reduce Fabricator Engineering Questions

09-03-2020

Hundreds of PCB designs are released to be quoted or fabricated every day around the world, and most will have engineering questions or technical queries generated once the data package has been received and analyzed. Dana Korf outlines seven fundamental steps based on Lean/Six Sigma concepts to reduce data transfer issues.

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Dana on Data: How Can the PCB Industry Improve From COVID-19 Responses?

07-16-2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world transformed a very slow medical approval process into the equivalent of a concurrent NPI process by challenging some of the golden rules. Dana Korf shares his thoughts on four areas the PCB industry can re-evaluate and improve.

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Dana on Data: The Importance of PCB Technology Roadmaps

05-14-2020

Peter Drucker once said, “Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window.” Dana Korf explains how it is critical that PCB fabricator technology roadmaps and capacity planning align with their customers’ product development and volume requirements to ensure that optimum cost, reliability, and performance goals are achieved.

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Dana on Data: Automating DFX Transfer and Analysis Using IPC-2581C

03-19-2020

We are inching closer to a world where a complete intelligent PCB data transfer is realized. The IPC 2-16 Digital Product Model Exchange (DPMX) Subcommittee has just sent revision C out for IPC-2581 Consortium review with final industry approval targeted for this June. Dana Korf discusses the significant additions and their impact.

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Dana on Data: Creating IP-protected PCB Design Rules

01-09-2020

One of the primary reasons that data packages aren’t compatible is the fabricator/assembler does not provide a complete set of design rules out of concern of giving away their intellectual property (IP). Dana Korf explores the design rule development hierarchy as well as what should be included in an IP-protected design rule document.

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2019

Dana on Data: The DFM/Data Transfer Process Is Broken

11-14-2019

In a world that is showing great strides toward implementing a Factory 4.0 world, why can’t a design be passed from a designer to the fabricator without errors every time? Dana Korf emphasizes moving the responsibility up in the food chain, examines key design package error categories, and proposes creating a cultural change.

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New Column—Dana on Data: IPC-2581 Intelligent Bi-directional Data Flow

09-12-2019

The IPC Consortium is nearing completion of transferring notes on drawings and working with IPC on converting key IPC specifications into attributes that can be automatically loaded into CAD and CAM systems. This format is extendable to created automated company-specific acceptance files that can be automatically loaded into the CEM’s or fabricator’s engineering systems. IPC-2581 data format is being widely used globally and now needs to become the standard to reduce NPI cycle times by associating critical design information automatically to the physical features.

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