4 simple tips for efficient PCB routing! – Auto-routing
There is an old saying that goes like, “PCB design is about 90% placement and 10% routing”. Well, after all these years in between, this saying is still true and at the end of the day, the placement of circuit’s components will be the deciding factor of time needed for routing.
Now we are writing this guide for beginners and we understand that looking at those “rat nests” might not be any help for your understanding. However, breaking each element and variable in printed circuit boards might help you get the first-hand understanding of it.
Here we won’t be discussing different elements of a PCB (we have already covered that topic before), rather we will be listing some useful tips for easy and successful PCB routing. These tips will surely help your layout a successful and efficient PCB.
- Auto-routers aren’t much reliable
Irrespective of the PCB design software, you will notice an Auto-router tucked around every software. Looking at this Auto-router might lit your eyes as a beginner, thinking it as a utility tool to automate the routing procedure.
Great, is it?
Sorry to extinguish your hopes but Auto routers aren’t the solution to your routing needs. They can never replace the manual routing procedure. In fact, if you ask professionals about the best software for auto-routing, they will say “something between your ears”. Yes, only your mind can layout an efficient, and customized routing for the printed circuit board. However, you can use auto-routing for few accessory utilities, including:
Precision Testing of Components: Once you are done with placement of all components on printed circuit board, you can use Auto-router to check the completion rating. If the rating falls below 85%, it indicates some flaw in your placement and you might need to reconsider the placement of components
Locating Bottlenecks: Apart from getting the completion rating, you can also use auto-routing tool to identify the neglected critical connection points of bottlenecks missed during placement.
Idea: Well, you can definitely use auto-routing to get some inspiration for your own routing layout. Quick auto-route grids can help you get some ideas for your purpose, any time.
- Trace Widths
Connecting large number of components over a small board have its own disadvantages and limitations. The most important concern in this aspect is the amount of heat produced while electricity flows through the copper traces. The flow of electricity definitely produces some heavy heat amount of heat energy and the best way to control it is by adjusting the trace widths. To put it simply, the wider the traces, the smoother the flow of electricity and lessen the resistance, thus lesser the heat generation in your printed circuit board.
- Inter-traces space
Short circuit is one of the primary concern for every printed circuit board designer and manufacturer. Too much heat generation is the primary culprit of short circuits in PCBs. The fundamental reason for most short circuits in PCBs is small inter-traces spaces.
Because if you pack all the components on the board to tightly, there’s always a chance of high heat generation and accidental traces’ connections, both of which can lead to short circuits.
Another benefit of leaving some wider inter-traces space on your board is to compensate for the manufacturing faults. PCB manufacturing isn’t a 100% precise process and there always a chance for some errors. Thereby, by having wider inter-trace spaces, you will be compensating for any machine error during PCB manufacturing stage.
- Right Angle Traces
Right angle traces might look sophisticated and clean, but believe me, they aren’t recommended. Ask any professional engineer or PCB manufacturer and they will recommend you to avoid using right angle traces.
Simply because by choosing a 90degree trace angle, you are creating a sharp outside corner that has a high chance of getting etched into the other traces. This also means, by going with right angle traces, you are actually lowering the inter-trace spaces, which might lead to short circuits (as discussed above). Thereby, though you might be tempted by 90degree trace angles (symmetry is definitely attractive) they aren’t the most efficient way of designing a printed circuit board traces.
Read more PCB Assembly Success – 5 simple tips for a successful PCB Product!