PCB Design

Up and Coming PCB Designs

We know the importance of PCBs in our tech-savvy world. The continual advancements in modern technology creates a need for continual advancements in printed board circuits. There is a demand for smaller, more elegant, and dependable PCB designs. These new designs are used from PC manufacturing to new medical technology. The constant development of new printed board circuit designs allows the technology industry to keep inventing new ways to make our lives a little easier and in some cases healthier. Today, we are going to explore some of the advancements that we are already benefitting from and what is in store for the future of the PCB Fabrication Industry.
Board Cameras are now being used in medicine to make diagnostic testing much more comfortable for patients. Instead of a large, uncomfortable scope or camera being inserted into the area of the body that is being examined, the patient can now swallow a camera that will collect the necessary information that a physician needs to make a diagnosis. One example of this is called Capsule Endoscopy, the patient will swallow the disposable “pill” which will take up to fifty thousand pictures of your digestive tract. The pill travels out of the body through a bowel movement and can be flushed away.
Vertical Conductive Structures (VeCS) is the invention of Joan Tourné will offers a less expensive alternative for challenging fan-out projects to fine-pitch grid array components. Although still in the testing phase of development, Tourné states “Not only can we achieve higher interconnection density by packing more vertical connections in a smaller space, at the same time we can increase conductor router channel density under grid array components.” He continues to explain that PCB Fabricators will not experience additional cost with this method since the technology required is already being used by high-end shops after the appropriate training and licensing. We will have to wait and see if this new method will prove beneficial to the PCB Fabrication industry.
GaNonCMOS project consortium is currently working on a project that will use energy efficiency using GaN power switches and CMOS drivers. Collaboration on this project began in January 2017, the goal is to work with optimized embedded printed circuit boards creating integrated power components for less expensive, better-functioning systems. That sounds wonderful, let’s hope that it works!
Newer, better, stronger. PCB designs are the backbone of any electronic device. They provide us the ease of access to information around the world, they allow us to stay in constant contact with our loved ones and are beginning to play a vital role in medical technology. Smaller, elegant, smarter. PCB Fabricators are constantly challenged to create innovative boards to further our thirst for the technological and make our world an easier place to live.

References
Starkey, Pete. 2017. Vertical Conductive Structures–a New Dimension in High-Density Printed Circuit Interconnect Accessed March 9, 2017
Prophet, Graham. 2017 Consortia to develop GaN processes and PCB panel-level packaging Accessed March 9, 2017

electronic-components

Understanding the Basic Aspects of Electronic Components

Understanding the Basic Aspects of Electronic Components

If you are not sure what an electrical component is rest assured, you are not alone.  For those of us who love our devices, but have no idea how they work, sit back, relax and get ready to learn!  Electronic components are the meat and potatoes of the electronic devices we use every day and can’t live without.  They are not flashy and are usually quite easy to overlook.  However, without them, we would literally be back in the dark ages. Today we are going to discuss some of the most basic electronic components.  Some examples include parts like resistors, capacitors, LEDs, transistors, and integrated circuits.  So, let’s get started with the basics.

Resistors

Resistors have been named for their function, resisting the current.  The resistor is responsible for managing the volts and current in nearly any device that requires electricity.  It is the resistor that allows your device to continually operate without overheating or worse.  By controlling the voltage, it allows just the right amount of electrical current that is needed to operate the device, if it did not do this, then the device would receive too much electrical current and then overheat or in technical terms fry.

Capacitors

Capacitors are used to store an electronic charge for a small period which is released when the charge is needed.  The capacitor will release the stored-up charge when there is a disruption in the circuit of the device resulting in the need for additional power to keep it running.  Kind of like a backup battery, or you can think of it in terms of a generator.  When there is a blackout, facilities or homes that are equipped with a backup generator will not be left in the dark, the generator will save the day by providing electricity to the building.

LEDs (Limiting Emitting Diode)

Although this sounds like something that Luke Skywalker would use, LEDs are routinely used.  LEDs are used to provide light.  That little light that comes on when your cell phone is charging or the power light on your personal computer is the LEDs in action!

Transistors

Transistors are a little more difficult to wrap your mind around.  They are made of three terminals;

  • Base: Voltage goes through first, it makes the collector “turn on”
  • Collector: Receive voltage from base has a positive charge
  • Emitter: Receives voltage from collector has a negative charge

They work together as a switch to turn the circuit “on”.

Integrated Circuits

An integrated circuit is a tiny component that may contain some of the components you have just learned about.  They are the cornerstone of the devices we know and love ranging from cell phones to our home and work personal computers.  Without them, we would not be in the age of technology that we currently enjoy!

So, there you have it!  Your first lesson in the basic aspects of electronic components is now complete!  We hope you have found this information valuable and informative.

pcb design mistakes

The Most Common PCB Design Mistakes to Avoid

Just like you and me, PCB designers can also make mistakes since they are also humans. Wooden (1999) once said “if you are not making mistakes then you are not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes”. However, due to their experience in the PCB design field, PCB design engineers can avoid some of the most common mistakes that a newbie or a domestic PCB designer could make. The following 6 tips will help avoid PCB design mistakes

  1. Be sure to include design reviews

The basic PCB design process commences with the discovery that a Printed Circuit Board is needed and proceeds to the final production stage. Despite the pressure that one is under to design a PCB, design review is a crucial element in the PCB design process. This includes taking into consideration factors like the interconnection of circuits, the approximate final dimensions, the functioning of the PCB and the design features. It is critical to remember that theory is not reality but experienced PCB design engineers have a finely honed sense of where real life implementation of theory begins to fall apart. The ideal PCB design process is shown in the figure below. This is crucial to help in preventing some of the most common PCB design mistakes.

The ideal PCB design flow begins when designers recognize a need that must be fulfilled, and it doesn’t end until testing verifies that the design can meet those needs (electronicdesign.com).

Excitingly, even after carrying out multiple PCB design reviews, errors will often slip into the designs although some of them can be solved earlier before the production process. However, if you are not much experienced in the PCB design field, there might be some simple errors that you can’t identify in the initial process so it is always good to bring in other sets of eyes!

  1. Failing to back-up your work

During the PCB design process, software and a variety of data are used for perfect results. As an example, the EDA (Electronic Design Automation) software allows designers to create complex designs of their Printed Circuit Board. Due to the speed and high flexibility of PCB design software, the packages or data used can easily get lost even before saving them. It could be really sad to repeat a day’s or 2 work after data vanishes and one has not saved it. Please ensure you save your packages regularly and create a variety of saving points so that in the event that one storage point is corrupted the others are still okay. Moreover, as designs evolve, some previously saved work can have better versions thus it is better to rely on making many corrections to the existing document than to lose all the data and start working afresh.

  1. Avoid having via-in-pads

A via-in-pad occurs when vias are put in component pads. This problem is very common in the production and prototyping of PCBs and it’s very hard to avoid it. In the same token, some components like QFN ICs and the BGAs require vias to be placed on pads but they should be avoided to the level best. Having vias in pads poses a problem to PCBs since they suck solder separating it from components place on the other side of the PCB. Consequently, small components and parts which have no solder connection between them to the solder pads are formed. Moreover, poor mechanical connections especially on BGA balls and larger parts that get sucked off by BGA ICs result.

Design engineers always advice that if you must use vias in a pad, then they should be very small and covered with solder-mask if possible. Different from that, if the opposite sideof a via is capped with soldermasks, air can be trapped in the via and it making it outgas during soldering resulting to poorly soldered components.

  1. Wrong footprints

Many PCB design software have component footprint libraries. This saves one from the hard time to create their own package, soldermask, PCB footprint and silkscreen from scratch libraries which can sometimes have some errors in them. It’s always a good and professional practice to check that all footprints for every component and pinout are correct. This step is very crucial especially if you modified a footprint during defined your  This mistake can be easily avoided by taking a few minutes to check whether every footprint is correct and the design is better than it was some hours ago. Hand soldering for tiny surface mount corrections on each board can also be carried out during this phase.

  1. Keeping ICs floating on the solder

A very critical aspect about the footprint of a component is the soldermask. As already mentioned, when vias are used in a pad, soldermask should be used to cover them to evade any component solderability issues. However, having too much solder on the pad is another solderability issue so the solder should be applied very carefully.  When a solder paste or a stencil is used, a solder mask with openings which are large enough can allow excess solder to flow on the board. This is not a big problem for surface mount components although those with a large solder pad underneath which are normally used for heat sinking on higher power integrated circuits and QFN can be pushed up by the excess solder thus leaving the pins unconnected. To prevent this damage, a modified soldermask which has 50% coverage on the high power and QFN areas can be used.

  1. Wrong parts substitution

Parts substitution is a paramount requirement in the design of any PCB or any other electronic component. This is because some parts a higher tolerance of substations of their support components like inductors and resistors. Such parts are picky and they demand the use of components that match specific range of values. The selection of components that are outside the acceptable range can cause the oscillation of components resulting to an error. The debugging of these errors can be the worst experience one can ever come across in the PCB design process. Moreover, replacing ICs can be a major problem especially for drop in. replacements and pin for pin ICs. The components datasheet should be updated each time a new equipment is introduced or a replacement.

Past and future trends in PCB design

Past and future trends in PCB design

Past and future trends in PCB design

Over the years, Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) have witnessed significant changes in assembly, design, manufacturing and prototyping.  The design of PCBs is critical to their performance especially in complex devices. With over 20 years’ experience in the PCB industry, we have experienced some of these changes which can be attributed to the changes in technology and the introduction of better and much efficient simulation softwares like Eagle and CAD. Consequently, we decided to share with you some of the changes that have taken place in the PCB industry especially for the design section over the years and the anticipated future changes and improvements in PCB design. Please join us in our discussion. You can also learn more about PCBs and their design from our blog.

To begin with, PCB design can be traced back to the era where only single-sided boards with no surface mount components were used. In the late ‘70s, most boards were designed using tapes to represent pads and traces. The Mylar sheet was used as the Printed Circuit Board and they were designed at a 4:1 scale. In the ‘80s, the double-sided boards which lacked the SMT (Surface Mounted Technology) and whose second sides were made of copper not components were introduced in the market. Double sided boards were also designed on the Mylar sheets using a blue tape on one side and a red one for the other side. The finished tape was usually photographed at a scale of 1:4 to produce a film negative with a scale 1:1. The negative would then be projected onto a board coated with a photo-resistor and then develop to reveal the design. Moreover, two types of films were used for the double sided boards; the orthochromatic film which was usually blind to red thus used to record blue traces only. Equally important, the panchromatic film which was less sensitive to blue was used to record red traces after filtration. The blue and red traces, therefore, allow 2 negatives to be produced and helped in ensuring that there is an exact alignment of vias and pads.

A different PCB design method also existed during the same era. Although not as popular as the tape and Mylar, this method used a material known as Rubylith which was polyester covered with a red plastic laminate. Design of such boards involved the use of an X-Acto knife for removing the red where pads and traces would be. The negatives were then used to produce a board on the photoresisor-coated blanks. Different from that, the CAD systems, though rarely used were also introduced during this era. This was also marked with the introduction of the SMT thus PCB design was made much simpler. Consequently, an explosion of different types of packages began to appear in the market. One such package is the BGA package which led to a massive increase in multilayer boards meaning that boards could now be packed with components thus they became more functional and smaller.

Design Trend1994200420092014
Min trace/spacing6.5/6.55.4/5.44/43.9/4.2
Total metal layers8101414
Total area ()101767553
#Nets1465295234112109
#Pin-to-pin connections51908813109606228
#Components649198235002609
#Component pins42147765132010122
Leads/ part6567
Leads/43156245304

A 20-year analysis of several key factors in PCB designs (electronicnews.com)

Many changes have taken place in the PCB design process especially from 1994. This is due to the introduction of more efficient PCB design software and the TLA program. In the curve, one can clearly notice that the highlighted red line representing the number of leads per square inch is so steep and remains in the same state even up-to-date.

Surprisingly, the minimum trace width, a trend that appeared in the first decade has leveled out. The trace width’s minimum decreased by over 50% over the first 5 years but remained stable after that. The number of metal layers also had 2 growth spurts but leveled after that.
From the above discussion, it is clear that PCB design has improved over the years and a brighter future can be predicted owing to the fact that technological advancement is the order of the day in today’s society. To begin with, the reduction of the number of leads per part and the increasing ratio of active and passive components implies the integration of more and more functionality onto silicon with a performance criterion that demands higher numbers of capacitors and resistors for power and signal integrity. In the same token, the layer counts of Printed Circuit Boards have remained same over the last 5 years while the area of PCBs has dropped by 29% and the density increased by 25% which results to faster clock rates hence higher currents thus boosting stray capacitance. This implies that lesser PCBs but high efficient ones due to high heat dissipation rates shall be introduced in the market soon.
Different from that, PCB miniaturization and increase in PCB density implies that components benefit from large scale integration hence the component count on the boards reduces significantly. Moreover, the size of components is reducing each day thus the clock speeds increase leading to generation of more heat thus special mounting requirements for chips will be one of the major strides expected to be introduced in the market soon with both electrical and mechanical engineering designers working together. This is because thermal issues are both electrical in terms of power losses and consumption and a mechanical problem in terms of the means of channeling the heat away from the components.
As if that is not enough, designers are currently designing circuit components like touch sensors on the PCBs to reduce their net cost. However, this design technique has the challenge when it comes to the creation and scaling of the complex shapes required for the implementation of components. A convergence of PCB functionality into FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Arrays) which leads to lesser costs of PCBs and higher functionality is expected to dominate the market soon although this method has traditionally been used as the realm of specialist designers. Introducing it in the general markets helps in shifting economics in favor of programmable devices since it will replace the discrete 32-bit microcontroller and its associated peripheral chips. The future of PCB design is, therefore, very promising and designs will become complicated overtime.
With over 20 years of experience in delivering quality PCB prototypes, RUSH PCB is dedicated to improving the design, assembly and prototyping process from the design engineers to delivery. We lead the PCB industry with an on-time deliver rate of over 99%. Moreover, our technical support is readily available (24/7/365) and ready to provide you all the necessary assistance. Please try us today; visit us at https://www.rushpcb.co.uk/and place your quote today.

pcb design cycle

Accelerating PCB Design Cycle

Accelerating PCB Design Cycle

A PCB (Printed Circuit Board) provides mechanical support and electrical connections to the electronic components by use of pads, conductive tracks and some other features that are etched from the copper sheets that are laminated onto a substrate. The PCBs may be single sided (having a single copper layer), double sided (having two copper layers) or multi-layered (having inner and outer layers). The multiple conductors located on different layers, in the case of multi-layered PCBs, are joined using plated-through holes. These holes are known as vias. More advanced PCBs have the electronic components embedded in the substrate. As experts (RUSHPCB) in PCB design and manufacturing, we are aware that knowledge is power and that is why we came up with this article discussing the various ways of accelerating the PCB design cycle. You can learn more about PCB design and manufacturing at https://www.rushpcb.co.uk/blog

In the modern advanced electronic industry a lot of PCBs are needed to accommodate the highly dense and complex circuits that have a large number and variety of components and have complex routing spaces. Regardless of the increase in complexity, there is a decrease in the time-to-market. In such cases, the only option is reduction of the design time by making use of innovative advanced editing options and making the designsperfect-by-construction for the manufacturing process so as to eliminate the cycles between the manufacturing process and the design.

PCB DESIGN PROCESS

Traditionally, PCBs were manually designed by developing a photomask. After developing the schematic diagram, the components’ pin pads were then established on a Mylar and traces were then routed so as to connect the pads.

Currently the design of PCBs is achieved by use of layout software. This is achieved via the following steps:

  • Development of a schematic captures using the Electronic Design Automation tool.
  • Coming up with the template and card dimensions based on the required circuitry.
  • Determining the positions of the electronic components as well as the heat sinks.
  • Deciding on the layer stack of PCB depending on its complexity.
  • Determining the line impedances by use of the thickness of the dielectric layers, thickness of the routing copper and the width of the trace.
  • Placement of components. Geometry and thermal considerations are also considered. The lands and Vias are then marked.
  • Routing the signal traces.
  • Generating the Gerber files for use during manufacturing.

ACCELERATING THE DESIGN PROCESS

In the design process, time is always a major challenge and constraint. Two determine ways of accelerating the design process; we must first have knowledge of the challenges in the process. More often than not, the design is always released late due to a number of bottlenecks that include; the design is often not ready for the layout process when it is relayed, customer unknowns, schematic finalizations, changes in Engineering, library updates, slow procurement process of equipment and the samples, footprint validation and the designer him/herself.

Accelerating the PCB design cycle is important since the design reaches the market on time among other benefits. There are a wide range of methods and tools that can aid in accelerating the PCB design process. These include; doing it the right way the first time, mentoring expedition, reusing existing designs, Cadence Allegro, PADS, use of inside tools, Hyper Lynx, using apps and trying to stay updated with the current app improvements, avoiding unnecessary meetings that serve as a waste of time, using third-party enhancements to the CAD software tools, script automation, working for longer, 3D printers.

The design process is concerned with satisfying the requirements of an item into multiple distinct design threads that the prototype. No systematic methods for these disciplines to share their work with the other disciplines. A lack of communication leads to inconsistent decisions on design

Over the past few decades, there have been rapid changes and advancements in the electronic design industry. These advances have taken root in the entire electronic ecosystem that includes transistor design, semiconductor technology, IC/SoC design, system design andPCB. Currently, PCB sare very complex and connect multiple heterogeneous components that operate at distinct clocks and voltages, hence giving rise to a lot of constraints in complex designs. The selection of the components can also prove to be a complex and tedious task since there are numerous suppliers for a single type of component. In such a scenario, the designer will be forced to go through all the catalogues for quite a number of them.

10 EFFECTIVE WAYS OF SPEEDING UP THE DESIGN CYCLE

  1. Elimination of Conflicting Information

Any conflicting or inconsistent information should be eliminated from the drawings or files. All documentation should be the same.

  1. Provide an IPC Net list

The IPC net list allows the designer to check the design against the exported data. Any known net list mismatches should be noted. Castellated pads should be noted. These are pads where the plated half-holes, at the edge of the board will create a connection to the post at a point after the fabrication.

  1. Checking for any Discrepancies on the NC Drill File

Check clearly to make sure there are no inconsistencies of size, plating status or count on the drill file. Any of these might cause a lot of communication delays.

  1. Communicating With the Fabricator

Ensure effective communication with the fabricator and check for any validation of the materials or parts to be used.

  1. Annular Ring must be Adequate and Communicated in Plans

All pads for the plated through-hole should have the sufficient annular ring.

  1. Check Your Edges

No metal should be poured closer to any part edge. It should not be less than 0.015” in the case ofa0.062” board.

  1. Check Your Drill Aspect Ratio

The drill aspect ratio should be communicated to the fabricator.

  1. Communicate uncommon Materials

If any uncommon materials are to be used, the fabricator should be informed to ensure they stock the materials or can get them quickly.

  1. File Naming

Avoid using control characters in naming the files while exporting any Image files.

  1. Consulting the Fabricator

Consult the fabricator to discuss the deviations that may arise. Specify any other special requirements for this part. These may include additional edits necessary or extremely tight tolerances.

We are experts in PCB manufacturing, assembly, design, and fabrication. Serving customers from all over the world, we never compromise the quality of our products and services. You can try our uniquely perfect services today by placing your quote at https://www.rushpcb.co.uk/quote/

Electronics Product Design Guide For Students

The Best Guide For Electronic Product Design For Students

The Best Guide For Electronic Product Design For Students

Design and production of electronic products can be tiresome and hectic for many scholars. This is because coming up with a product which shall impress the targeted market is tricky. However, Rushpcb.co.uk has made the process much simpler by formulating ten steps which can be adopted in the process of developing an electronic product.

To begin with, the hardest part in the development of an electronic product for any job is the concept stage. In this step, you should come up with an innovative product which shall help solve an existing engineering or social problem. Such ideas could be something that one finds annoying in their daily life or an idea to improve an already existing product such that the end product is much better and efficient than the original product. Such ideas could include the design of an inverter using cheaper electronic products or the design of an electronic key lock using flip-flops and AND gates. These products are already on the market, but they apply complicated procedures and expensive equipment in their design and implementation. In this stage, extensive research is needed so that the end product is unique and efficient.

The second step in the design of an electronic product is research. In this stage, you should think technically and apply your electronic engineering come general knowledge so that you get fine details of and the expected cost the product you are designing. Specific design specifications are crucial. Such specifications can be acquired from the internet (Rushpcb.co.uk), libraries and even from experts like the RUSHPCB support staff.

Sequentially, the circuit design stage involves drawing a schematic with software which is readily available to you and you have a thorough understanding of its operation. Such software includes Printed Circuit Board (PCB) which you can access at various online stores like RUSHPCB (click here : https://www.rushpcb.co.uk/blog).

Equally significant, the fourth stage in electronic product design is packaging design. This phase is crucial since brilliant circuit designs are sometimes disappointed by sub-par packaging. With this, it is crucial to remember that a customer does not judge a product and the quality of any circuit. Customers rarely understand the working of electronic circuits, so it is upon you to make them appealing and easy to understand. As an example, Apple and Steve Jobs emerged as giants in their electronics empire by designing iconic and unique products which not only solved existing everyday problems but also focused on customer experience. To be clearer, think how you would feel by designing an entirely new product or modifying an already existing product.

The fifth stage in electronic product design is the printed circuit design. This is the most interesting part when the ideas and circuits already which are in your brain are turned into workable files using Printed Circuit Board (PCB). This stage is the most important in your design so we recommend that you consult experienced electronic engineers and use only certified Printed Circuit Boards. We highly recommended that you use our services and be assured of 100% assistance in case you have any problem (visit us at http://rushpcb.co.uk/) However, you should ensure that you understand the layout of your placement. Always consider the optimum layouts for your boards. This is because we are a unique PCB provider and your product might go into mass production thus enabling you to save millimeters which can translate into saving of huge costs.

In the same token, the sixth stage in electronic product design is the trial production or prototyping stage. This stage is very sensitive thus you should ensure you use trusted PCB prototyping shops like RUSHPCB. There are many sites and shops offering fake PCB prototypes which end up short-circuiting and blow up when you power your design circuit. Computer-aided design using software like electronic AUTOCAD is also part of this stage. The versions of such software keep changing each year so you should be keen to purchase the latest and most efficient version of software in the market. It is significant to note that prototypes primarily aid in the identification of the faulty parts in the design. Resolving such problems helps to achieve the final product which is the wish of any designer and electronic technician. In our electronic and PCB expertise, it can take between two to ten prototypes before achieving the final product so you should not be worried if the design does not work in the first few trials.

As if that is not enough, the review step in electronic product design involves evaluating the prototype at hand for function, build-cost, appearance and any changes which can be made on the prototype. This step is the last final stage so you should think of the best way to modify the prototype before proceeding to the final step. However, if your prototype is fine and you are fully convinced it is what you wanted; proceed to the final stage.

The final stage in electronic product design is wrapping it up. After building your product successfully and all the goals laid out in concept are satisfied, documentation stage begins. However, this varies depending on the course and the use of the product although many colleges and universities demand that one should assess the way in which the product can be produced massively. To be precise, evaluate the areas where you can save on cost, compliance regulations or laws and identify the sales figures depending on market availability and viability.

Different from that, there are key factors that you have to bear in mind while designing an electronic product. To begin with, you should keep track of time and all the cost you are to incur in your design. Moreover, one should be keen to observe the designer’s mantra and make a mock-up often. This is because they reveal new ideas which you never thought of. Comparatively, you should allocate humble time to the testing stage so that the end product is efficient. Equally significant, you should only use recommended and trusted suppliers. This is why we recommend https://www.rushpcb.co.uk/ for perfect end products. We have helped millions of students and designers in their projects and they have always succeeded. Please try us today. Contact our sales team at [email protected].