Expert Tips for Perfect PCB Layout Design
There are several stages to making your project a reality. Getting a reliable fabrication and assembly supplier like Rush PCB Limited is essential. Still, the basics must also be perfect for making your end product cost-effective and error-free.
PCB layout design is the most basic and crucial step in product development. However, there are several ways to get the PCB layout done, the first is the do-it-yourself approach, which takes time and effort, and the second is to outsource the project completely to a contract manufacturer like Rush PCB Limited as a Full Turnkey project.
In this blog post, we will share the top five tips by our design experts, which help create a perfect layout design for a beginner and improves manufacturability, functionality, and product reliability.
Expert Tip # 1: Always Plan Your Schematic Diagram
The circuit diagram or schematic is the graphical interference of the components, interconnections, and functions of the Printed Circuit Board. The schematic diagram can be made on design software which gives access to create, modify and export the schematic and BOM files in multiple formats. Usually schematic is provided in PDF or SCH format.
Below are steps that need to be taken to plan the schematic diagram efficiently:
- Doing component labeling at an early stage saves a lot of time in case changes require on the design.
- Assign pin marking and nets to all the components to ensure connectivity.
- Mentioning component values gives the design structure on the schematic diagram to your contract manufacturer.
- Assigning symbols and colors to each part makes the job easier at the time of production.
The steps as mentioned above are usually observed while doing DFM and DFA on the Gerber and BOM files. Such information gives a clear idea about your design, and potential issues can be solved during pre-production.
Expert Tip # 2: Adjustment Of Component Placement For Optimal Performance
There is no doubt that the PCB cannot operate without the components; the interconnectivity of components makes the PCB work. So using the PCB real estate wisely by following the below PCB layout design rules can help you optimize your PCB performance and make it cost-effective:
- If all the similar components are placed in the same direction, it helps the pick and place machine programmer run the process efficiently and may take less time to assemble all the boards.
- The placement of components must be on a single side of the board if the through-hole parts pins are on the opposite side. In this case, you can save some Non-Recurring Engineering (NRE) charges on your assemblies.
- Per the IPC component placement guidelines, all the surface mount devices (SMD) components must be placed on the same side to minimize the reflow process.
- As per the IPC component placement guidelines, all the through-hole (TH) parts must be placed on the top side, as it helps minimize the wave soldering process.
- As per the IPC component placement guidelines, the mixed component assembly must ensure that all the SMD and TH component must maintain a decent distance which helps in avoiding component collision.
Expert Tip # 3: Signal, Power & Ground Traces Placement
The distribution and placement of traces such as signal, power, ground, and plane greatly impact physical PCB. Following the expert tip below can help you make a perfect PCB design.
- Always balance copper on each layer. Distributing the planes equally on each layer, especially for the inner layer where there are copper planes, will help avoid warpage issues after production.
- The large impact of warpage is observed when ball grid arrays (BGAs) need to be assembled, but due to board bendability, the solder joints don’t get in contact with the copper pads. The only solution is to distribute the copper planes symmetrically and centered in the internal layer.
Expert Tip # 4: Minimize Your Trace Length and Width
The fabrication process gets complex when the trace width and spacing get tighter and shorter. Consider that in mind, below is expert advice that can help minimize your production cost.
- The power traces must have wide trace width and spacing, as they carry significant current to power up the ICs and transformers.
- Make a thumb rule for multi-layer PCBs that if the signal trace is routed horizontally on one side, route the opposite side trace vertically. It helps in identifying the connections at the time of rework.
- We recommend considering the current to determine different nets with different current values; low current traces must have minimum trace width of 5 mils to 10 mils. However, wider traces are suggested for traces carrying a current of more than 0.3A.
Expert Tip # 5: Verify Your Layout Against Your PCB Design Rules.
PCB Design Rules Checks (DRC) help in double and triple checking your work to make it error-free, even at the stage of completing the design; our experts recommend verifying the DRC checks before submitting it for production can help in reducing Design for Manufacturing (DFM) and Design for Assembly (DFA) issues at the pre-production stage.
After the assurance of error-free Gerber files or Design files, our experts advise checking the routing of all signal layers and performing a schematic review to ensure connectivity. Many design tools have features that can cross-check the layout and the schematics.
As a beginner mentioned above, all the expert advice can help you avoid any DRC issues during PCB manufacturing and assembly. After getting your perfect PCB design, you must ensure all the files, including Gerber and ODB++, IPC netlist, BOM files, fabrication, and assembly drawings, must be submitted for a quick full turnkey quote. Rush PCB Limited aims to provide Full Turnkey quotations within 24 hours and offers the fastest Full Turnkey PCB service throughout the United Kingdom (UK), the Middle East, and Europe.
To learn more about our Full Turnkey PCB capabilities, fill out our contact form or call us at 0203 750 0201. We are happy to assist you anytime.