PCB manufacturing From Conceptuality to Reality – The guidelines to make your PCB product see the Daylight!
At HT Global Circuits, we encourage people to take a holistic approach, when looking for a PCB manufacturing job. Well, we have been helping our clients understand the process better, as well as, take a sneak at the technicalities of PCB manufacturing . However, today we decided to take an even higher level of the process awareness – from idea to product delivery.
Here are our recommended steps to follow; for people looking for a smooth, and seamless outcome.
- Cultivate your idea:
Ok, you might have hit with a revolutionary idea, or you may have been tasked by higher authorities to complete an assignment; whichever the case you are now tasked with designing a PCB. Now the first thing most engineers do (and rightly so) is to build a prototype concept (more often than not using off the shelf components). This is surely a recommended practice, however, you shouldn’t stop here. Rather than suffice to a prototype, you should develop the idea to the next level; go for something customized and purpose-built using the precise form.
In business, it’s all about cost saving, and profit making. No product (no matter how revolutionary) is a viable product until it has the cost-effective analysis done. So, you should be able to perform a cost-analysis for all the factors that drive your PCB product. Getting it done at the upfront will help you realize the true value of your product, and make any adjustment required to improve the viability, and quality of your product – which will directly translate into better chances for your conceived product to see daylight.
- From Schematic to Design:
Every practical and professional PCB project start with a schematic, which is then transformed into the design. It is here that you got to fine-tune all the components including circuit layouts, and functionalities. For those of you who don’t have the professional expertise to design a PCB, don’t worry; there are various great free resources available that can help you understand the basic working principals of PCB schematic and design.
- The Rule-Check for Design:
All Printed Circuit Board design applications come with a built-in DRC (Design Rule Check) capabilities. The purpose of DRC is to check out the potential of a PCB design against a pre-set rules and flag areas of violation. This will help you figure out the practicality, and limitation of your design against your purpose. A good practice in this regard is to preset the DRC parameters to be compatible with PBC manufacturer’s design rules. This will increase the compatibility of the design to your purpose.
- Clearing the bugs:
DRC will list some flags/problem areas. You are then needed to clear out the bugs, one at a time until all the bugs are removed, and you have a bug-free design; ready to see daylight.
Ok, so if you have made it this far, it means you now have a viable design that is all set to become practical in due course. Now it is time to progress to manufacturing part. However, before you detail the design to PCB manufacturer, there are some steps to prepare the final document.
- Export the Source File:
Well, you don’t need to send the source files generated from PCB design software to the manufacturer. Rather, you should “Export” the source files needed to be sent, in a universal format. A universal format means the files can be interpreted and understood by al manufacturers. Gerber or ODB++ is some preferred universal formats, easily interpret by PCB manufacturers. Rest assured that all files are properly labeled, numbered and packaged.
- Get the DFM Report
Once you have your source files in a universal format, properly labeled and packages, it is time to send it to PCB manufacturer. The PCB manufacturer will then run a Design for Manufacturability (DFM) report. This report will evaluate the files provided by you against the required files for manufacturing of circuit boards. DFM will help the manufacturer to evaluate given files, as well as request any required files missing in the package.
- Review the quotation, and place the order:
So, you have come really long way and now you are just a few steps from seeing your idea transforming into reality. Once you are done with DFM and any additional files, it is time to ask for a quote from the manufacturer. Once you are satisfied with the pricing, simply place the order.
So, we really hope this stepwise guide will make it much easier for you to navigate through the maze of PCB manufacturing (from idea to reality). Your work starts now, best of luck!
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