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PCB CAD Design For Manufacturing Guidelines

When a printed circuit board is manufactured, it’s important that all the parts are executed perfectly. If even one part of the design is flawed, the entire thing will cease to function at best. At worst, the piece might pose a hazard to people. One bad solder can destroy an entire board. But you can adhere to design for manufacturing rules, otherwise known as DFM rules, to keep your solder joints uniform and efficient.

DFM rules cover obvious things like safe handling of your circuit boards and uniformity among your soldering. But there’s another place where they can help: the way you choose to route traces regarding your PCB directly affects potential solder problems, and DFM rules can give you guidance.

This post will dissect the different ways that trace routing has the potential to cause problems so that you can avoid these scenarios in the future.

Acute Angle Traces

One potential problem lies in acute angle traces. This circumstance isn’t guaranteed to lead to solder problems, but it is noted in DFM guidelines.

In traces, an acute angle describes a trace whose corner is larger than 90 degrees. This corner causes the trace to angle back on itself. When a wedge is created, this wedge might trap acidic chemicals when the board is fabricated. The trapped chemicals aren’t always cleaned the way they should be, and they’ll continue to eat at the trace until it breaks or begins to cause sporadic connections.


“Tombstoning” refers to the effect of a two-pin part being stood up on one of its pads when soldering occurs. This generally happens because the two pads have a heating imbalance when solder reflow occurs. When one side melts before the other, it pulls the piece toward that side instead of holding it flat, which causes the “tombstone” effect.

Heating imbalances can be caused by a myriad of different factors. One of these is the use of different trace sizes on the pads. When the trace is wider, the pad will take longer to heat. If one pad has a wide trace, and one pad has a narrow trace, there will be a heating imbalance during soldiering. You’ll then see the tombstone effect.

Sometimes electrical engineering plans require power traces that are too wide to be soldered by the manufacturer. Because of this, PCB guidelines recommend minimum and maximum widths for the traces used on different types of parts. However, this isn’t guaranteed to solve the problem. To fix the issue, you need to balance your manufacturing and electrical engineering requirements so that the two can work in harmony.

Cold Joints When Soldering

When you route thick traces, you might accidentally create a cold solder joint. This is a joint in which solder has not been correctly reflowed, and therefore the solder does not make an ideal connection. Alternatively, the solder might have pulled back from the connection entirely. This occurs when you route a thick trace with a pad, and the trace size pulls the solder from the pad when the solder needs to be placed on the pad to make connections.

The main solution to this problem is only to use trace widths that are smaller in size than the pad. Certain DFM guidelines make a recommendation that you don’t use a trace with a wider width than 0.010 mils. That said, you’ll need to balance the manufacturing and electrical engineering components of your design to find a harmony that works best for the project.

Use the PCB and DFM Guidelines

PCB guidelines encompass much more than trace routing guidelines. In the same vein, DFM guidelines can help you to use the correct placement techniques for your components, standardize your footprint sizes, and accurately render other pieces of the overall design. These guidelines are implemented to keep your design from being manufactured with errors.

When circuit boards are free of errors during the manufacturing process, this is a sign that the design is good and solid. You’ve taken care to put thought into the design components and the ways they work together.

You might use software for your PCB manufacturing designs. Design software has the kind of advanced routing capabilities that you’ll need to troubleshoot potential manufacturing problems. If you’re a designer, using PCB manufacturing software will help you deliver a sound and DFM compliant design to your manufacturer on the first try. It streamlines the process and helps with your overall efficiency.

Ensuring Your Manufacturing Process Is Compliant With DFM Regulations

Circuits Central is a company which provides solutions to electronics manufacturing problems. Our solutions can be applied to the pre-manufacturing design and refining process, the actual process of manufacturing, and the post-manufacturing distribution process.

Our team of designers and engineers can help you with your circuit board designs. If you’re stuck, a consultation can help you to troubleshoot the problems you’re having. Our engineers are also well versed in DFM and PCB compliance, and they can give you tips to help you streamline your process more efficiently.

When you’re troubleshooting your potential problems, Circuits Central provides the following services:

  • Designs made from scratch for electronic circuits and circuit boards, created with cutting-edge software and experienced methods
  • Huge amounts of detail throughout the entire design process
  • Engineering expertise provided by an engineering team with years of experience
  • Analysis of problematic designs and suggestions for solutions and upgrades
  • Custom creation of a components library
  • Firmware development
  • Digitization of designs
  • DFx consultations

If you’ve already completed your design, the following manufacturing services are available:

  • Twenty-four hour production services
  • Modification, upgrade, and rework services
  • PCB repairs
  • Supply chain planning
  • Rapid prototyping
  • Environmental stress tests
  • Documentation of production
  • Certifications of regulations

To get in touch and find out more about our solutions, call us today at 888-821-7746 or contact us here.

How To Prevent Suspect Components From Entering Your Supply Chain

A supply chain is reliant on stability and quality. If anything threatens either of these facets, providers will have a difficult time ensuring overall supply chain excellence. Unfortunately, counterfeiting is a high risk. How can you minimize the potential risk of your supply chain being infiltrated by imitation or suspect components?

These tips will help you identify suspect devices and avoid having them infiltrate your supply chain.

What is a suspect component?

The definition of suspect components tends to be broad, as ‘suspect’ varies in meaning from person to person. On one hand, suspect devices might be counterfeit items such as replicas or the actual product. On the other hand, a manufacturing part that is labeled as new but bears signs of use could also be considered ‘suspect.’ It doesn’t matter whether the part is a counterfeit or if it has simply been repackaged after several years off the production line. Both of these circumstances present a risk.

With this in mind, this criteria can describe a suspect device:

  • An unauthorized replica or fake model of the actual product
  • An older device that has misleading markings which disguise it as a different device
  • Defective parts that were scrapped by the original manufacturer of the part and unknowingly resold
  • Any parts that have been salvaged from scrapped pieces and resold

Audit your carefully selected suppliers.

You can’t slack when it comes to security provisions for your business. Whether you’re personally purchasing the material or outsourcing the purchase, you need to have a consistent level of management over the supplier relationship. Experts recommend audits of all unknown independent suppliers. They also recommend having a clear understanding of the management methods these suppliers use for their other supply chains.

Consider these questions regarding whether to use an independent supplier:

  • How long has the company been in business?
  • Are they the legal owner of the stock they’re selling? Or are they a middleman for another company?
  • What checks are in place to mitigate suspect device risks?
  • Does their offer seem realistic, or is it too good to be true?

Sometimes, when a company is in the midst of crisis, it’s tempting to ignore the system of checks and balances that you’ve put in place. If you’re running low on stock, you might do anything to get what you need; you might not want to analyze their supply too closely. But you should consider what you know about the company already, what impacts your purchase might have on your company’s reputation if the product is suspect, and what your gut instinct is telling you.

It would be nice if you never had to buy outside of a product’s franchised network, but you might need to use independent sellers for any number of reasons. After you’ve found an independent source that has proved reputable, experts recommend striking up a partner relationship between your businesses to avoid looking to potentially suspect businesses to fulfill your needs.

Pay special attention to the receipt.

Goods inspections can be done through many different formats. Usually, these inspections depend on proven quality levels and traceability of the components. An inspection might be a simple visual process, or you might want to use X-ray technology to confirm authenticity. Decapsulation is a more aggressive inspection technique. You can use any number of different tools to identify suspect components in your business.

If the parts come from the franchised network rather than an independent supplier, you’ll likely find a visual inspection adequate for your security. But independent suppliers should be more thoroughly inspected to be sure their products will not cause failure or delays on your manufacturing line.

Regardless of the understood level of risk that the supplier poses, experts recommend doing a thorough inspection of any goods that have been supplied through a first-time supplier. This is a logical quality control measure in addition to being good for your peace of mind. If you log the control measure appropriately, you can prove that you’ve done due diligence should any faults occur following the electronics manufacturing of the parts.

Maintain a reference database.

After you’ve conducted your inspection and audit of the supply company, you should make sure that the inspection and audit details are properly logged in your company’s database. It’s a good idea to create a reference database that contains information about all of the purchase orders you’ve made and the supply companies who provide them.

When you have a reference database, you can determine what inspection levels future products from the same supplier should undergo. If previous inspections passed with flying colors, a visual inspection might be enough. Meanwhile, if a shipment contained suspect items previously, you’ll want to do a more thorough inspection to make sure they’re correct.

You can also use the reference database for training new employees. When you have a database with all of your records of ‘suspect’ components, inspectors have a better idea of what to look for. Whenever a staff member is involved in inspections of a purchase order, they should be trained with whatever materials you have available. They should also be kept abreast of the latest inspection techniques and inspection-related news in the marketplace.

Electronics Manufacturing Solutions

Circuits Central is a company which provides a number of different electronics manufacturing solutions and services. If you’re undergoing any changes in your manufacturing plant, Circuits Central can help you out. To learn more about our solutions, call us today at 888-821-7746 or contact us here.

What to Look for in Your Prototype PCB Manufacturer

The practicality of prototyping before anything goes to the actual market can speak volumes for the acuity of a company. Whether or not the process goes successfully, knowing exactly how it is going to perform, plus knowing whether or not the product will be useful, is key.

These days, there is a nominal fee assigned to prototypes to give them a “spin around the block,” so to speak. Upon approval, actual price setting goes into play.

A PCB is a piece of electronic equipment. It can be a computer, an appliance and so on. There are many different integrations that can be implemented to these PCB’s to achieve optimal efficiency.

PCB is an acronym for “Printed Circuit Board.” All of the electronic equipment functions occur on Printed Circuit Boards. They generally run on conductors, which generate energy and pass it along to circuits that then spark the electromagnetic fields of the console or board for the electronic equipment to operate.

Often, a company will assemble a circuit board as a prototype. PCB Assembly involves putting all the components together so that they produce the kind of machine that will run the most efficiently.

There are manufacturing companies that understand this and make a commitment to put forth the best product that operates with optimal efficiency. That is why PCB Assembly is so important, and why it is must be partaken under a company that specializes in prototyping. It eliminates guesswork, letting the consumer know in advance what they are buying for a small fee.

To learn more about PCB prototypes, call Circuits Central today at (888) 602-7264 or contact us here.

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