Eurocircuits Printed circuits blog

What keeps us busy at Eurocircuits, projects we are working at, new idea's, background information and a platform where you can participate, give your opinion and guide us to what is important for you as an electronics developer

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Posted by   Dirk stans  on 06 Aug 2014  | Posted under   PCB Visualizer Hits: 1853

PCB PIXture – a new function for PCB Visualizer.

PCB PIXture is a new tool for PCB designers who want to increase the visual impact of their boards.  Typical applications include front panels, keyboards, PCB assemblies sold as independent units, consumer electronics … - anywhere where the distinctive appearance of your PCB will make an important selling point.  PCB PIXture allows you to take a photograph, logo or other graphical image and have it printed onto your PCB using standard PCB fabrication technology.  The image can appear either in black and white as a solder mask image (maskPIXture) or in black and gold (goldPIXture and goldlogo).

PCB PIXture is a “smart menu” in PCB Visualizer.  As such, it joins the four new design tools we have introduced over the last few months.  These have been developed to help you fine-tune your production data files and make sure that your boards are delivered exactly as you need them:

PCB PIXture

We announced the PCB PIXture concept in a BLOG on our website in October 2013.  The response was enthusiastic: the blog is by far the most viewed of all our blogs, and users voted 2:1 that PCB PIXture was a cool tool.  We have now completed the development, and PCB PIXture is a standard option in our PCB pooling services.

There are three options:

  • maskPIXture
  • goldPIXture
  • goldlogo

maskPIXture

We print the pixellated image in black and white solder mask.  As this is a complete solder mask layer it has no effect on the functionality of the PCB.

 
maskPIXture

goldPIXture

We produce the board with a gold overall surface finish and then define the image using black solder mask.  We then screen a transparent soldermask over the top to seal the surface.

 
goldPIXture

goldlogo

Define your logo as a graphical image or in vector text.  We will produce the PCB with overall gold surface finish and define the logo as a solid image using black solder mask.  We will then screen a transparent soldermask over the top to seal the surface.

 
goldlogo

How to use PCB PIXture

PCB PIXture is a poolable option in our STANDARD pool service.

  1. PCB PIXture uses a PCB Visualizer wizard.  Either upload your job in the normal way and click on PCB Visualizer in the basket, or use the “Analyse your data” function.  To get a budget price, select “PCB PIXture” in the soldermask boxes, and for goldPIXture and goldlogo select “Surface finish Che Ni/Au overall”.
  2. Click on the PCB PIXture wizard button in PCB definition.
  3. If you have not already specified on which side(s) you want a PCB PIXture select now,


     
    PCB PIXture side


    and select soldermask Black or None for the opposite side.


     
    soldermask for the opposite side
  4. PCB Visualizer will now display the full PCB PIXture wizard.


     
    PCB PIXture wizard
  5. Select your PCB PIXture function.


     
    PCB PIXture tools
  6. Select an image from the list of stored images or browse to add a new one.  Images can be in JPEG, PNG, TIFF, GIF, or BMP format.
  7. Place the image following the instructions on the screen.  For maskPIXture and goldPIXture, PCB Visualizer will automatically pixellate the image.  For goldPIXture and goldlogo the surface finish will be changed automatically to Che Ni/Au overall.  If you resize the image, the wizard will preserve the width to height ratio.


     
    goldlogo
  8. Click “Apply” to close the wizard.  If all other parameters are correct to your requirements, click “Save changes” to put the updated job back into your basket.  You can then “Proceed to checkout” as normal.
  9. If you want to check the finished image before we commence production, use our Pre-production approval overview function.

MOVIE: a peak on PCB PIXture's functionality

This film gives an overview of how to introduce pictures and logos on your board using the PCB PIXture interface, part of our PCB Visualizer software.

 

You can always view this video in full screen mode by clicking the right symbol  on the navigation bar and upgrade the resolution by clicking the setting symbol .

If you have any questions, click the Chat box on the right of the screen and chat with one of our experts.

 


Posted under PCB Visualizer
Posted by   Dirk stans  on 10 Mar 2014  | Posted under   Meet Eurocircuits Hits: 2852

Update 04-09-2014: TechAwards - de finale beslissende fase is aangebroken - stem nu !

Bijna is het zo ver. Van 30 september tot en met 3 oktober treffen de Nederlandstalige technologiebedrijven zich weer in Jaarbeurs te Utrecht voor de World of Technology & Science. De opvolger van de beurs Het Instrument nu mede ondersteund door de FEDA. Zie onze BLOG.

Exposanten hebben de mogelijkheid deel te nemen aan een TechAward competitie. Eurocircuits heeft deze editie twee ontwikkelingnen ingezonden. Om ons te nomineren voor de finale competitie tijdens de beurs hebben wij nu uw steun nodig. Bekijk de nominaties en hopelijk krijgen wij uw stem.

- eC-test-mate - Met de eC-test-mate, test u een bestukte PCB zonder extra tooling. Lees meer over de eC-test-mate en stem op ons project hier.

ec-test-mate

- PCB PIXture - Eurocircuits is erin geslaagd om een grafisch design, een foto, af te beelden op een traditionele printplaat. Lees meer over PCB PIXture en stem op ons project hier.

goldpixture



Een voorbeeld van PCB PIXture kan u tijdens de beurs ook terug vinden op het beursgadget: "de virtuele memo". Het aantal gadgets is beperkt maar nog niet uitgeput. Als Eurocircuits relatie kan u nu al registreren via deze link en verzekert u zich van uw gadget en een gratis toegangsbewijs.

Uw mening is van groot belang voor ons. Breng daarom uw stem uit en maak aldus kenbaar of u deze nieuwe ontwikkelingen kan smaken.

Wij hopen velen onder jullie in Utrecht te mogen verwelkomen op onze stand B057 in hal 9.

Update 22-05-2014: 1 ste werkende proto van de Virtuele MEMO - een leuk beursgadget - registreer nu reeds !

 

"De virtuele memo", het beursgadget voor de branche Industriële Elektronica, is een praktisch dagelijks gebruiksvoorwerp met een plezante functie:"geheugensteun".

De virtuele memo stuurt draadloos, via de lage energievariant van Bluetooth, een unieke code uit gelinkt aan een geheugensteuntje wat u er voordien heeft in geplaatst. Deze code ontvangt u via uw smart phone waar de "memo APP" u het geheugensteuntje weer laat zien. Vermits meerdere personen deze info kunnen ontvangen kan men zo boodschapjes aan mekaar doorgeven: "Schat, vanavond komt mijn moeder op bezoek." Het aantal mogelijkheden is daardoor zeer uitgebreid.

Voor de elektronicaliefhebber zullen we uiteraard weer alle ins en outs beschrijven en kenbaar maken.

 

1ste prototype werkende

Salland Electronics en D&D Mechatronica melden vandaag, 22-05-2014, dat het eerste prototype van de virtuele MEMO is samengesteld en werkende is.

WOTS gadget - virtuele memo


Reserveer de MEMO nu!

Het gadget kan u alleen bekomen, als u zich als bezoeker voor de beurs aanmeldt en tijdens de registratie aangeeft dat u het gadget wil ophalen.

Registreer nu als Eurocircuits klant als eerste via deze link en verzeker u van uw gadget en een gratis toegangsbewijs. Vanaf eind maart zal iedereen kunnen registreren en is het aantal gadgets mogelijk snel uitgeput.

 

Meer info over de World of Electronics vindt u hier.


Posted under Meet Eurocircuits
Posted by   Dirk stans  on 26 Aug 2014  | Posted under   Eurocircuits strategy and history Hits: 1045

Pooling: what is it and what is its history?

Order pooling is now a well-established technique used to cut costs for prototypes and small batch PCBs.  But what is it and what is its history?

What is order pooling?

Order pooling

Order pooling means combining several different customers’ orders on the same standard manufacturing panel.  “Order pooling” or “pooling” is probably the most common name but the process is also called “order combination”, “panel sharing”, “multi-panels” …

Pooling orders on standard panels cuts costs in 3 ways:

  1. 1 set of tooling and machine/process set-ups is shared between all the pooled orders
  2. Material utilisation is greatly improved
  3. Standardised panels make production much more efficient.

Together these can cut production costs by as much as 90%.

Order pooling is not the same as “panel filling” where a customer buys a whole panel of the same PCBs, and gets as many circuits as will fit on the panel.  This offers good material utilisation, but only if you need that many circuits; if you only need 1 or 2 small boards it can work out quite expensive.  In practice it reflects how conventional fabricators will actually produce the PCBs on standard panels.  At Eurocircuits we use it only for the occasional unusual combination of production parameters for which we don’t get enough orders to pool.

Of course, to make pooling work successfully the fabricator needs enough orders with the same technology to achieve a good “fill” on the standard panels.  Too few orders mean that material utilisation will be reduced, driving up costs.  Or not all board types can be pooled every day, extending deliveries.  Cutting corners by combining boards with different technologies on the same panel (for example, by combining 2- and 4-layer boards) risks serious reductions in quality.  At Eurocircuits we handle more than 70,000 orders a year  This allows us to offer the widest range of pooling options without impacting price, delivery or quality.

 
Production

Online pricing and ordering

Today, order pooling for prototype and small batch PCBs is usually combined with online price calculation and ordering.  This exploits an added advantage of order pooling: ease of costing.  As the fabricator knows the set-up and production costs of the standard panels for each technology, pricing depends broadly on the area of panel each circuit uses.  There is no need to count holes or drill changes or measure the length of the profile.  Or to charge separately for tooling, or to impose a minimum charge.  All this makes online pricing and ordering much faster and more convenient for the customers, who no longer have to wait hours or days for a sales office to “get back” to them.  It also cuts the price of their boards: online pricing and ordering needs fewer administration staff.

If you follow internet discussions of online pricing and ordering, for example in LinkedIn PCB groups, two objections are raised:

  1. It only works for simple technologies
  2. If you use a sales office they will usually (or at least they should) check your data.

Eurocircuits have developed solutions for both of these issues.

  1. We handle a large number of orders each day so we can pool a wide range of different options.  This has allowed us to develop sophisticated “smart” menus which allow customers to price and order complex boards swiftly and securely online.
  2. We offer onscreen visual checking tools to ensure that your boards meet the technology requirements of each class.  Where possible, the online tools propose minor changes that will fit your design into a lower-priced class.

MOVIE: What is order pooling

This film explains briefly the principle of order pooling, how Eurocircuits applies it and what it can do for you.

The history of order-pooling.

The pooling concept no doubt dates back to the dawn of human history when the first cave-man popped into the next-door caves to say that he was trekking to the nearest outcrop and did anyone want any flint nodules to make their tools.  Pooling became the basis of wholesaling and all forms of grouped transport.  Today it is used every day by consumers, for example for buying plane tickets or hotel rooms through third-party websites, or in collective buying schemes.  The more people who make their purchases through the same online channel, the better price the channel will get and the less the purchasers will pay.

A number of companies in Europe tried order pooling in the 70s, but the process was difficult to implement in the days of hand-taped artworks, paper-tape driven drills and fixture-based testers.  Preparing tooling for a panel of different PCBs, even for a customer who insisted that he would always re-order the same boards in the same quantities, was expensive and inflexible.  If demand changed or boards were scrapped during fabrication or assembly and had to be replaced, either expensive new tooling had to be made or a lot of surplus PCBs produced.

The situation changed during the 1980s as CAD systems and laser-photoplotters cut the cost and ease of tooling.  Indeed, it was the laser photoplotting bureaus that first used the pooling concept.  Plotters were very expensive and by today’s standards quite slow.  At first, most PCB manufacturers could not afford to invest in the new technology and so used plotting bureaus. Olivier Cadic, former owner of Info-Elec in Paris, once one of the largest bureaus in Europe and founder of www.pcb007.com, explains how he used pooling to bring down the costs of the finished films.

In the mid ‘80s at Info-Elec we introduced pooling for laser photo plotting.  Customers could upload their Gerber files via modem onto a PC where they landed in a queue. Software developed by Info-Elec and the plotter manufacturer DISC then organized the queue in such a way that the film formats were efficiently filled with customer data.  This optimised the use of expensive film and machine time, resulting in lower plotting costs per dm² and better prices to our customers”.

PCB manufacturers were also quick to exploit the new opportunities.  Thus Ton Klaver of Bellmann in Holland actively promoted the idea of PCB pooling to his customers.

“In the late ‘70s (1979) we started to present a clearly defined technology for single- and double-sided boards to our customers.  We offered attractive prices based on the cost savings achieved by pooling orders on one production panel.  This convinced them to restrict their designs to the technological parameters we offered.  The customers could calculate the prices for themselves using a simple program that, in those pre-internet days, we distributed on floppy disks.”

These trends accelerated in the ‘90s.  PC-based CAD systems finally replaced hand-taped artworks; laser-photoplotters became faster and cheaper; CAM systems became more capable; production and test equipment could be driven digitally.  The cost of tooling was slashed, so it now became feasible to make a set of tooling for a pooled panel, and then throw it away.

At the same time during the ‘90s and the early years of the new millennium the dynamics of the European and American PCB industry were changing.  Volume manufacture began to move to low-cost areas in the Far East, especially China, putting pressure on prices.  Cyclical demand for PCBs aggravated price pressure.  As prices fell, profits fell too, exactly at the time that designs were getting more complex and investment was needed in new manufacturing and test technology.  The result was a dramatic decline in the number of board shops in the West.  Some became little more than brokers for Chinese suppliers.  For others survival meant specialization.  The Chinese plants were not interested in small batch PCBs and not fast enough for prototypes, while their quality was regarded as suspect for high-technology boards, especially for sensitive applications like avionics and defense.  Many board manufacturers moved into these high-technology niche markets.  Others specialised in prototypes and small batch PCBs supplied on a fast lead-time.  Order pooling was a natural technology to adopt to meet price pressure, and pooling companies appeared in USA and Europe.  Eurocircuits was set up as the online order-pooling arm of the Europrint PCB fabrication group in 2000.  By 2011 it generated over 90% of the group turnover, and we re-structured the whole organisation under the name by which most of our customers knew us, Eurocircuits.

The internet boom of the late 1990s (despite the “bust” in 2000) got more people used to the idea of buying online.  The second pillar of the modern order-pooling company was in place, and companies like Eurocircuits began to grow.  The growth of online buying led the development of a new delivery infrastructure to match.  The new pooling companies were able to expand their operations across wider geographical areas.  Thus today Eurocircuits delivers all across Europe as well as globally, including the Americas, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.

Conclusion

Today’s electronics designers, in whatever country they live, have a good choice of quality suppliers of standard and high-technology prototype and small batch PCBs.  They can source PCBs for their new designs quickly and efficiently from their desks, as well as getting committed service and technical support from their vendor, where possible from fluent speakers of their own languages (at Eurocircuits we offer online chat support in at least 6 languages).

Just as our ancient caveman used his knowledge of flint to find the best nodules for his neighbours, so we want to share our fabrication knowledge with the wider European design community and to learn from them what they need for their leading-edge designs.  We are committed to maintain and expand our low-cost order pooling services and to develop new support tools to help PCB designers bring their projects to market on time and on budget.  In this way we will make a positive contribution to the success of the electronics industry in the Western world.

References

Olivier Cadic, Info-Elec, founder of www.pcb007.com

Ton Klaver, Bellmann, www.bellmann.nl

 


Posted by   Luc Samyn  on 14 Aug 2014  | Posted under   Technology Hits: 663

What is UL?

The Underwriters Laboratory (UL) was set up around 120 years ago in the USA as an independent facility to test the safety of new products and new technologies.  Today it has a network of sites around the world focussed on product safety.  It test products, certifies manufacturers, and produces and updates safety standards across a broad range of industrial and commercial sectors. More.

For PCBs the main standards are UL 796, the specific PCB standard, and UL 94 for flammability testing of all plastics.  These specify a number of performance tests to measure the long-term reliability and fire safety of the PCB.  If a board is released to these standards, it is marked with the UL logo, the fabricator’s logo and the board type.  So here for Eurocircuits, we see on the left the UL logo, then Eurocircuits’ UL trademark, and last ML for “multilayer”.

 
UL on the PCB

When is UL marking used?

UL marking is required whenever safety, especially flammability, is a critical issue.  For European OEMs it is often required on any boards that go into equipment that will be imported into the USA.  The requirement may be set by the OEM or by the end customer.

What does UL marking mean?

  1. The base material meets the specified flammability level laid down in UL94.  For FR4 the level required is UL94 V0.  This means that when a vertical sample of the material is introduced into the test flame and then removed, it will self-extinguish within 10 seconds.  It will not drip flaming particles.
    All Eurocircuits FR4 materials meet the requirements of UL 94 V0.  For boards requiring UL marking we use Isola and Nan Ya materials
    • For STANDARD pool multilayer boards we use IS400 Mid Tg 150°C (this Tg is higher than standard FR4 to ensure full compatibility with lead-free soldering).
    • For all high Tg (170° - 180° C) requirements we use Isola PCL-FR4-370-HR.
    • For one and two layer boards we use IS400 Tg 150°C or Nan Ya NP-155F Tg 150°C
      => For more information on their properties see UL Certificate E41625 for Isola materials and E98983.
  2. The base material meets the specified level for ability to resist ignition from electrical sources.  For the values see E41625 and E98983.
  3. The base material meets the specified electrical breakdown (tracking) or Comparative Tracking Index (CTI) value.  This is the voltage difference at which the insulation properties of the base material may break down, causing safety and performance issues.  The Isola and Nan Ya FR4 materials meet the requirements of Class 3 (175 – 249 V).
  4. The base material meets the performance profile levels specified for direct support of current carrying PCBs (DSR).  These are specified in UL Standard ANSI/U/796A.
  5. The boards meet the other specifications set out in the table under UL marking in STANDARD pool below.

Eurocircuits UL specs

Our UL certificate E142920 can be found on the UL website

Abbreviations used.

  • Cond = conductor
  • Edge: this is explained below
  • Thk = thickness
  • SS = One copper-clad side
  • DS = Two copper clad sides including single-sided and multilayer
  • DSO = Double-sided only
  • Max Area Diameter: this is explained below
  • Meets UL796 DSR requirement.  See item 4 above.
  • CTI = Comparative Tracing Index.  See item 3 above.

TIPS.

  1. UL marking is free of charge.
  2. To add UL marking to your order, click on “Advanced options” at the bottom of the Price calculator menu, and then tick the “UL marking” box.  The smart Price calculator menu will flag any options that are not UL-compatible.
  3. When data has been uploaded, the Marking editor can be used to define the UL logo position.

General.

  1. All boards requiring UL marking are made in our factory in Eger, Hungary.
  2. We offer UL marking in STANDARD pool only.
  3. We have 3 active board classes, each with its own UL marking:
    1. i. Multilayer boards: designator ML; marking:

       
      UL ML
    2. ii. 1- and 2-layer boards with minimum thickness 0.63 mm: designator DV; marking:

       
      UL DV
    3. iii. 1- and 2-layer boards with thickness 0.38 mm – 0.62 mm: designator DS; marking:

       
      UL DS

The other classes listed in the certificate are no longer used.

UL marking in STANDARD pool

UL marking is only available for PCBs which are conform to the parameters listed here (the numbers in brackets indicate more information below). This includes poolable and non-poolable options.

UL type Designator

ML

DV

DS

Usable for

Multilayer

Single and Double sided

Single and Double sided

Base Materials

IS400

PCL-FR-370HR

IS400

NP-155F

PCL-FR-370HR

IS400

NP-155F

PCL-FR-370HR

UL 94 Flame Class

V-0

V-0

V-0

Min. build-up thickness (mm) (1)

0,63

0,63

0,38

Min. bonding sheet (prepreg) thickness (microns) (2)

126

Minimum outer layer conductor thickness (microns) (3)

18

18

18

Maximum inner layer conductor thickness (micron) (4)

70

Minimum track width (mm) (5)

0,10

0,10

0,10

Minimum edge track width (mm) (6)

0,15

0,15

0,15

Maximum conductor area diameter (mm) (7)

76,20

76,20

76,20

Surface finishes:

Leadfree HAL

Immersion NiAu (ENIG) (8)

Immersion Ag

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

Yes

NO

Yes

Hard gold edge connector

Yes

Yes

Yes

PTH on the board edge

Yes

Yes

Yes

Round-edge plating

Yes

Yes

Yes

Copper up to board edge (9)

NO

NO

NO

Carbon paste

Yes

Yes

Yes

ViaFill (10)

Yes

Yes

NO

Heatsinkpaste (11)

NO

NO

NO

Soldermask types (12)

ELPEMER 2467

XV501T Screen XV501T-4 Screen

ELPEMER 2467

XV501T Screen XV501T-4 Screen

ELPEMER 2467

XV501T Screen XV501T-4 Screen

Hole plugging material (ViaFill)

XV501T-4 Screen

XV501T-4 Screen

Peelable soldermask

Yes

Yes

Yes

Carbon ink

SD 2841 HAL *IR

SD 2841 HAL *IR

SD 2841 HAL *IR

Solder limit

Maximum temperature (°C) (13)

265

265

265

Solder limit

Maximum time (sec) (13)

20

20

20

Maximum operating temp (°C)

130

130

130

1. Minimum build-up thickness (mm)

This is the thickness of the PCB measured over the laminate where there is no internal or external copper.

The minimum  STANDARD pool thicknesses which can be UL marked are:

 

UL-ML

UL-DV

UL-DS

UL min. build-up thickness (mm)

0,63

0,63

0,38

Min. STANDARD pool thickness (mm)

0.80

0.80

0.50

TIP

For UL marking of UL-DS PCBs the surface finish must be Che Ag or No surface finish (leadfree/leaded HAL is not possible due to the min board thickness requirement of 0.80mm for HAL and Che Ni/Au is not available for UL-DS-marked PCBs due to the fact that we always use  a via-fill in combination with Che Ni/Au).

2. Minimum bonding sheet (prepreg) thickness (microns)

Minimum prepreg thickness in a multilayer. This may be one prepreg or a combination of different prepreg.

 

UL-ML

UL-DV

UL-DS

UL min. bonding sheet (prepreg) thickness (microns)

126

In STANDARD pool most of the 700+ pre-defined builds meet this requirement. The smart Price calculator menu will flag any pre-defined build that is not UL-compatible.

3. Minimum outer layer conductor thickness (microns)

Specifies the minimum END copper thickness for the outer layers.

 

UL-ML

UL-DV

UL-DS

UL min. outer layer conductor thickness (microns)

18

18

18

For 2-layer and multilayer boards all start copper foil thicknesses may be used: 12µm (end +/-30µm), 18µm (end +/-35µm), 35µm (end +/-60µm), 70µm (end +/-95µm) and 105µm (end +/-130µm).

For 1-layer boards the start copper foil is the same as the end copper thickness, so following start copper foils are available: 35µ (end +/-35µm), 70µm (end +/-70µm) and 105µm (end +/-105µm).

4. Maximum inner layer conductor thickness (micron)

Specifies the maximum END copper thickness for the inner layers.

 

UL-ML

UL-DV

UL-DS

UL max. inner layer conductor thickness (micron)

70

On inner layers start copper foil is the same as end copper thickness.  UL marking is available only for 12µm, 18µm, 35µm and 70µm (not 105 µm)

5. Minimum standard track width (mm)

The minimum width of any track on any layer placed more than 0.40mm from the edge of the board.

 

UL-ML

UL-DV

UL-DS

UL min. standard track width (mm)

0,10

0,10

0,10

eC PCB Classification pattern class

Class 8

Class 8

Class 8

6. Minimum edge track width (mm)

The minimum width of any track on any layer placed less than 0.40mm from the edge of the PCB-board.

 

UL-ML

UL-DV

UL-DS

UL min. edge track width (mm)

0,15

0,15

0,15

eC PCB Classification pattern class

Class 6

Class 6

Class 6

This is a UL requirement to prevent damage to fine tracks near the edge of the PCB.

TIPS.

  1. Eurocircuits’ standard specifications still apply.  If a PCB is break-routed, there can be no copper on the outer layer within 0.25 mm of the edge of the board or 0.40 mm on the inner layer.  For V-cut scoring the clearance must be 0.45 mm on all layers.
  2. Copper up to the board edge is not allowed under UL rules – see (9) below.

7. Maximum conductor area diameter (mm)

This specifies the maximum solid, unpierced conductor area on any layer of a PCB-board, measured by the diameter of the largest circle that can be inscribed within the conductor pattern.

 

UL-ML

UL-DV

UL-DS

UL max. conductor area diameter (mm)

76,20

76,20

76,20

A “solid, unpierced copper area” is defined as any “full” or “solid” copper plane that does not have any PTH or NPTH holes in it.  This rule has been introduced by UL to reduce the thermal mismatch between a large solid copper plane and the laminate.

The diameter is measured thus:

 
UL maximum copper area

TIP

In most cases copper planes will include clearances for drill holes and so are not solid.  Otherwise if UL marking is required for designs with very large unbroken copper areas, consider using cross-hatching.

8. Surface finish - Immersion NiAu (ENIG)

To ensure optimum quality on immersion nickel-gold PCBs with closed vias we use ViaFill. As we do not offer UL marking on ViaFill for boards less than 0.63 mm thick, we cannot offer UL marking on type UL-DS PCBs (less than 0.63 mm).

9. Copper up to board-edge

This is not permitted under UL rules (risk of exposed or torn copper).

10. ViaFill

We do not offer UL marking for ViaFill for boards less than 0.63mm thick.

11. Heatsinkpaste

We do not offer UL marking for heatsinkpaste.

12. Soldermask types

All colours that we offer are covered.

13. Solder limit – temperature and time

These are the values that we use in our quality checks.

 

If you have any questions, please contact us by email at euro@eurocircuits.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or use our online Chat.

 


Posted under Technology
Posted by   Dirk stans  on 07 May 2014  | Posted under   PCB Visualizer Hits: 1921

Adding custom markings - yet another PCB Visualizer function

Do you need special text or a QR code on your PCB?  Or a production date code specific to this order? Or a logo that your design system can’t handle? Or is it important that order numbers and UL marking are in a particular location?  We have harnessed the power of PCB Visualizer to bring you on-screen interactive functionality to meet these requirements.

Watch our movie at the end of this BLOG.

NEW August 2014

Add logo

Under Custom marking you can now add a company logo or similar image in legend, soldermask or copper.  The image can be in JPEG, PNG, GIF or BMP format.

Marking summary.

Internal job number

All boards have our internal job number on the top legend layer in letters about 1 mm high.  Using the new functionality you can move it but, as It forms the basis of our traceability system, you cannot remove it or place it outside the PCB outline.

UL

Where the customer requests UL marking our engineers have always placed it in a clear area on the legend at their discretion.  If customers wanted to have the marking placed in a particular location, they needed to provide a drawing.  Now, when time is tight, you can use PCB Visualizer to place the markings interactively on screen and see how the finished board will look without spending time on a drawing.  UL marking is a cost-free option.

Other custom markings

Custom marking may be a date code, text, QR code or LOGO.  The new functionality allows you to select your preferred date code format.  You can type in the text you want to appear as lettering or in the QR code. The logo can be imported as a JPEG, PNG, GIF or BMP file. In each case you can move the item around on screen to see where it fits best. Custom marking is now a cost-free option.

How to use the new function

  1. Load the job into PCB Visualizer.  Either use the Price Calculator to get a price and then upload your data, or use the “Analyse your data” option, so that PCB Configurator fills out the board parameters for you.  Go to Shopping basket and click PCB Visualizer for the job you want.
  2. Scroll down the PCB Configurator menu to Advanced options.


     
    advanced options - Marking


    To add markings, make sure that the options you require have been ticked: “UL marking” or customer “Specific marking", both at no extra cost.
    If you want to check or edit the placing of the order number and/or want to edit your UL and customer specific markings, click the “Marking” box.
  3. The Marking screen shows a bird's eyes view of both sides of the PCB and one detailed view of either Top or Bottom, any markings already made, a legend overview of where they are and the tool options.


     
     
    marking editor overview

Tools:

 
marking tools

The function of the tools: "select", "switch view", "delete", "undo" and "redo" need no further explanation as they are self-explanatory.

The function "add an extra order number" makes it possible to add a second Eurocircuits order number on the PCB should you wish to do so. This function can also be used in case our automatic data analyses tool was not able to place an order number automatically on your PCB. This can be because the layout and legend of the board are too dense or the shape is too complex. You can then add an order number yourself.

To place the order number, push the icon and move your cursor to the desired location on the board and click to add it. You can then still drag it to any position on the board either on the top or bottom. Moving it from the top to the bottom is easy by just moving it to the bird's eye view of the bottom. This will place it there and will open the details view of the bottom at the same time. Further fine tuning of its position can then be done. You can also change the rotation.

 
order number properties

Tips:

  1. Don’t place any legend features over holes.  Automatic clipping may render it illegible.
  2. The order number will appear in a legend layer, typically on the top layer.  It is not necessary to have ordered a bottom legend to use the bottom layer for the order number.
  3. At this stage the order number will be the basket number.  When the order is placed this will change to the order number.

UL marking

 
marking UL

If you have not ticked the “UL marking” box in the PCB Configurator menu, you must tick the box here.  This will open the UL menu here.  The PCB Configurator menu and order details will be updated when you click Apply at the end of the Marking selection process.

Tips:

  1. UL marking can appear on a copper layer, in the solder-mask, or on a legend layer. The size of the UL marking is defined by UL and cannot be changed neither should it overlap other items.


     
    UL logo properties


  2. At this stage there are no automatic checks to prevent the logo shorting any tracks or pads on a copper layer. Any problem introduced at this stage will be picked up by our data preparation engineers at the moment of order and will result into an exception that will be reported back to you.

Customer specific markings

 
marking customer specific info

If you have not ticked the “Specific marking” box in the PCB Configurator menu, you must tick the box here.  This will open the Custom marking menu here.  The PCB Configurator menu and order details will be updated when you click Apply at the end of the Marking selection process.

Add QR code:

To add a QR code, click the icon and move your cursor to the desired location on the board and click to add it. You can then still drag it to any position on the top or bottom of the board. Moving it from the top to the bottom is easy by just moving it to the bird's eye view of the bottom. This will place it there and will open the details view of the bottom at the same time. Further fine tuning of its position can then be done. You can then change the content of the QR code as well as the size.

Tips:

  1. The Value can be up to 2953 alphanumeric characters using the standard ISO8859-1 character set (covers most characters in European languages). But the larger the content the denser the QR-code will become and thus the larger in size it will need to be to stay readable.


     
    QR code properties.png


  2. The minimum legible size will depend on the number of characters used.  In any case we do not allow a size below 8 x 8 mm.  Anything smaller will not be legible.

Add text:

To add a custom TEXT, click the icon and move your cursor to the desired location on the board and click to add it. You can then still drag it to any position on the top or bottom of the board. Moving it from the top to the bottom is easy by just moving it to the bird's eye view of the bottom. This will place it there and will open the details view of the bottom at the same time. Further fine tuning of its position can then be done. You can then input the text and adapt its height and rotation.

Tips:

  1. Text uses the same ISO8859-1 character set as the QR code.


     
    TEXT properties


  2. We use proportional fonts, so the height of the letters determines the size of the box.

Add production date:

To add the production date, click the icon and move your cursor to the desired location on the board and click to add it. You can then still drag it to any position on the top or bottom of the board. Moving it from the top to the bottom is easy by just moving it to the bird's eye view of the bottom. This will place it there and will open the details view of the bottom at the same time. Further fine tuning of its position can then be done. You can then choose the date format and adapt its height and rotation.

Tips:

  1. You have a choice of 6 formats.  Select the format here.


     
    production date properties


  2. Our front-end engineering system will automatically insert the date on which we generate the production pooling panel.

Add custom LOGO

 
customer logo

Select your image from the list of images already uploaded or use the Browse function to upload a new file.  File format can be JPEG, PNG, GIF or BMP.  Select the size of the image and the layer where you want it to appear.  If you alter Height or Width manually the wizard will calculate the other dimension to preserve the original image ratio.  Move your cursor to the desired location on the board and click to add it. You can then drag it to any position on the top or bottom of the board. Moving it from the top to the bottom is easy by just moving it to the bird's eye view of the bottom. This will place it there and will open the detailed view of the bottom at the same time. You can then further fine-tune its position.

Tips:

  1. The logo will appear in solid colour without grey-scales.  If you prefer a pixellated grey-scaled image, use the PCB PIXture wizard in the PCB Definition box.
  2. Logos placed on legend layers are subject to Eurocircuits’ legend rules.  The image will be clipped back from soldermask windows around component pads and holes.  Also the narrowest line which can be successfully printed is 0.17 mm. Check your image size and placement as violations may impair the appearance of the logo. To view the final manufacturing files before we start production, use our Pre-production approval function.

Marking legend

In the left bottom corner of the marking editor screen, you can find the "marking legend".

 
marking legend

The marking legend gives an overview of all 5 markings that may appear on the board. It shows how many times a marking appears on top or bottom of the board.

How to save the new data

  1. When you have placed the elements to your satisfaction, click Apply to return to the main PCB Configurator menu.  The changes you have made will appear on Top and Bottom view.  If they don’t, make sure that you have not switched off “UL marking” or “Specific marking”.
  2. Click the orange “Save changes” box on the right of the screen.
  3. In the next “Complete action” screen, just click Continue.  If you upload new data, you will lose the placements you have just made.

MOVIE: create and view custom markings on your PCB with our marking editor

This film gives an overview of how to introduce custome markings on your board with our new marking editor module, part of our PCB Visualizer software.

You can always view this video in full screen mode by clicking the right symbol on the navigation bar and upgrade the resolution by clicking the setting symbol .

If you have any questions, click the Chat box on the right of the screen and chat with one of our experts.
 
 

Posted under PCB Visualizer