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

Whether you are a new user or an old hand, our new EAGLE CAD web area now includes CAD experts’ tips how to get more out of EAGLE, part of our ongoing campaign to help PCB designers get their projects to market on time and on budget.

The first section "EAGLE schematics to layout basics" has advice and tips for new users on getting the best from the basic elements of EAGLE:

  • How to set-up using the Control Panel
  • How to build your schematic
  • How to find technical data, availability and price for your chosen components
  • How to layout your PCB

The second section "Cutting costs for fine-line PCBS" explains how to design lower cost PCBs. Our experts show how to reduce the price of a 4-layer PCB with BGAs from €750 to €230 by using the right grid, the right design rules and the right via-pad sizes.

Of course, if you are looking for a new CAD system or planning to upgrade your existing EAGLE software, the EAGLE web area sets out the powerful new features in EAGLE V7 and guides you towards the licence best suited to your needs.

 

PCB design to PCB manufacture

We have worked with CadSoft, the developers of EAGLE, for many years to develop a fast, smooth and risk-free transition between PCB design and manufacture. Features include:

  • Direct input of EAGLE .BRD data files. Users can upload their job files directly into the Eurocircuits website to check their data for manufacturability using PCB Visualizer and get a price or to place an order.
  • Download of EAGLE DRC files (.DRU files) and additional component libraries from major manufacturers. The free-to-download DRU files incorporate the most cost-effective parameters of our pooling services, helping you to achieve the best possible balance of technology and price.
  • Supply of EAGLE CAD packages. Eurocircuits are EAGLE Value-Added Resellers.
  • Workshops on using EAGLE for beginners and for advanced users.

 

CAD workshops

If you would like to attend a workshop, or if you run a design team or university electronics department and would like to arrange a tailor-made workshop, please contact us via euro@eurocircuits.com.

Posted under:
EAGLE
Posted on:
16 Aug 2015
Hits:
54

In this section we will show you how the right component placement and routing can reduce the cost of 10 4-layer BGA PCBs from 740€ to 233€, and deliver a more robust finished product.

Our customers regularly call us to say that they have laid out a PCB with fine-pitch BGAs. The layout looked OK in EAGLE, but when they uploaded the data onto our website they got a message that there were too many DRC errors so we couldn’t produce the board, or, if we could, only at a higher price.

 

What has gone wrong?

Most designers start their layout using the PCB manufacturer’s standard specification for the smallest standard track and isolation widths and the smallest drill sizes. For Eurocircuits these are:

Example:

- 150 µm Track/Gap and 0,25mm Drill End-diameter

- Or for a small but affordable extra charge 125 µm Track/Gap und 0,15 Drill End-diameter

So the designer typically uses the smallest standard drill size, 0.25 mm, for the via holes, routes the tracks in accordance with the standard DRC values and makes sure that tracks are centered between pads.

The results on screen looks OK. So the designer uploads his data right away into the online data checker, PCB Visualizer, but then he finds that there are errors everywhere. He can start to work his way through the list but will soon find that it is nearly impossible to solve all errors. The only solution is to change to a more expensive service.

Typical results for a BGA PCB in PCB Visualizer are:

If the designer accepts the violations, the PCB classification changes to class 9E. The outer/inner layer annular rings (restrings) are so small that he has to reduce the final hole size from 0.25 mm to 0.1mm. Similarly the isolation distances are too small, so he must decrease the minimum track width. We can still make the board, but the price has increased to:

 

What is the problem?

The designer has not noticed that his components are placed off-grid. Tracks can only be routed on grid so they will automatically snap to grid, causing spacing violations. If the designer doesn’t run a DRC before he uploads his data he is unlikely to spot the violations.

In short:

  • The component grid and the layout grid do not match
  • No account has been taken of component geometry.

"So how do I place and route my BGAs to avoid these issues? I want my design to go through PCB Visualizer and DRC Check without any errors and without having to use a more expensive service."

 

First, set the right grid

  1. When you switch from Schematic to Layout the layout grid is set as standard to 0.5 inch. The first step is to check your components. If the finest component is on a metric grid then select mm grid. Then set the grid value. In our example we are using a BGA with 0.8mm pitch, so set the matching grid in EAGLE to 0.2mm.

    TIP

    Always set a grid value that is a half or quarter of the component grid.

  2. Always place the components on the grid. To do this, first display the grid. Then show the center cross of the component by switching on layer tOrigins or bOrigins. If a component center is not on grid, snap it to grid.

    To do this, activate the MOVE command. Click on the center cross with Left-mouse button. The center cross will snap to the nearest grid point.

    Pads and center cross are now in the correct position. As you route the tracks they will snap automatically to grid, so you can route exactly between the pads without violating the design rules.

 

Second, select design rule values to reflect the geometry of the components.

Check the geometry of your BGA. In our example the BGA has a pitch of 0.8mm and a pad diameter of 0.4mm. The space from pad edge to pad edge is 0.4mm. Use a track width of 0.125 mm and multiply 3 times this value (= insulation + conductor + insulation). The space required is 0.375mm. So you can safely route a track on grid between two pads.

On the diagonal the center distance pad to pad is 1.1312mm (= sq.rt. (0.802+0.802)). So pad edge to pad edge is 0.7132 (= 1.1312 – 0.4 mm for the pads).

This allows a pad size 0.450 mm with minimum isolation 0.125 mm, minimum annular ring (restring) 0.1mm and drill size 0.25mm. This meets our design rules (DRU file):

You have now selected the right grid size and the right design rules. So your finished design will meet the requirements of classification 8D.

TIP

EAGLE does not run an automatic design rule check while you are routing tracks (otherwise you’d get too many errors when you tried to move a track). So from time to time run a DRC manually. That way, there is no risk of errors.

PCB Visualizer displays no errors or remarks.

And the price of our original batch of 10 4-layer PCBs drops from €740 to €233 :

 

Summary:

Tip 1: Set up the grid in Layout to match the BGA

To avoid spacing errors set the right grid in Layout. A good value is a half or a quarter of the component pitch. Then place the center cross of the components on the grid.

Tip 2: Set up the via pad and drill sizes to match the tightest BGA pitch.

Here the overall diameters are critical. In our example the best values are:

The inner layer pads require a larger annular ring to accommodate any movement during bonding. This difference between inner and outer layers is already set up in Eurocircuits’ design rules.

Posted under:
EAGLE
Posted on:
27 Aug 2015
Hits:
64
eC-reflow-mate-hood.png
eC-reflow-mate-hood

A complete solution from one supplier

The eC-stencil-mate printer and eC-reflow-mate oven were launched in November 2010. Our customers had told us that they needed high quality reflow for their SMDs, but could not find acceptable equipment at a price suited to prototype and small-batch assembly. Since then the products have become well established in the marketplace with more than 850 units installed in Europe and the rest of the world.

Our company mission is to help PCB designers bring their projects to market on time and on budget. A complete, cost-effective in-house prototype PCB assembly solution cuts out the extra time and costs needed for assembly by external sub-contractors.

Over the last 12 – 18 months we have added new accessories and new equipment to make assembly faster, simpler and safer.

 

Faster, simpler and more reliable soldering.

eC-reflow mate PCB holder
eC-reflow mate PCB holder
  • eC-reflow-pilot. The latest release has a new and more friendly user interface. A new analysis function allows you to record and check the performance of each zone of the soldering curve during or after a soldering operation. The additional monitoring helps you to get the best performance out of the eC-reflow-mate. In particular, it makes it faster and easier to set up the soldering profiles for new types of PCB.
  • eC-reflow-mate PCB holder. Place several small PCBs in the eC-PCB-holder and reflow them in a single run.
    Watch the video.
  • eC-solder-paste: professional quality in 140 gr. tubs, minimising waste when reflowing small numbers of prototypes. Our latest "no-clean" formulation offers a 9 month shelf-life in the tub, 24 – 48 hours life on the stencil or PCB and an 8 hour tack-dry time. Feedback shows that the correct use of eC-solder-paste with our stainless steel stencils on eC-stencil-mate can more or less eliminate solder shorts. Customers report that this can save from 5 hours to 3 days depending on job complexity. Full specification.
  • eC-stencil-wipes: highly absorbent lint-free, alcohol-free wipes developed in association with our solder technology partners for cleaning eC-solder-paste off stencils, the eC-stencil-mate, or from misprinted PCBs. eC-stencil-wipes are supplied in easy dispenser tubs. Users report that they extend the life of their stencils and give a much more reliable print when they re-use stencils for second and subsequent batches. Full specification.

 

eC-fumecube
eC-fumecube

Healthier reflow soldering.

Soldering fume are hazardous to health if inhaled. For users who do not have existing fume extraction we have developed two accessories for the eC-reflow-mate.

  • eC-reflow-mate-hood. An add-on to our eC-reflow-mate oven V3, the eC-reflow-mate hood ducts away soldering fumes when the oven door opens after reflow. The hood simply clips onto the top of the oven with magnets. Use it with your own extraction system or with the eC-fumecube extraction system. Specification.
  • eC-fumecube. We have selected a compact, high-specification, third-party fume extraction system to complement the eC-reflow-mate and hood. The eC-fumecube is quick and simple to install and quiet in operation.

 

Features include:

Hand-soldering
Hand soldering
  • Compact, brushed stainless steel unit.
  • High performance continuous run brushless motors.
  • Automatic electronic flow control - maintains a constant extraction rate throughout filter life
  • Adjustable air-flow
  • VariColour filter blocked warning system
  • Quick change pre-filters deliver longer filter life
  • Submicronic (HEPA) filtration removes 99.997% of particles down to 0.3 microns
  • Activated carbon filtration removes harmful gases
  • Low capital and running costs

The eC-fumecube can also be used with an existing hand-soldering station by adding the eC-armkit.

 

Safer and more reliable hand-soldering.

  • eC-pre-heater. Allows you to quickly boost up the temperature of your PCB to allow a smoother and easier hand soldering and de-soldering of critical components without damaging the components or the PCB.

 

eC-pre-heater
eC-pre-heater

Features include:

  • 4 x 400 IR heating blocks
  • 3.5 inch touch display controller
  • User-friendly programming with adjustable temperature profiles, color profiles etc.
  • Adjustable heating surface (front only, back only or both)
  • Magnetic board holder adjustable for height and board size
  • Heating controlled by an internal sensor or by 2 external sensors on top and bottom of the board
  • Slim-line ergonomic design with insulated casing

Full specification

See the eC-pre-heater in action.

Posted under:
eC-solutions
Posted on:
06 Jul 2015
Hits:
1605

Project deadlines don’t take a summer break, so Eurocircuits doesn’t either; our full range of PCB manufacturing services is available throughout the year. We have no summer shutdown; we only close the plant for Christmas and New Year.

Our staff are committed to providing a continuous service with reliable deliveries all year round. And not just our production staff. Our support engineers are equally committed to sharing our knowledge of PCB fabrication with the design community. They make sure that there are engineers on hand every day to answer your chat requests.

As a board designer you need to be confident that your PCB supplier can offer fast and reliable deliveries whenever you need them. To achieve this needs experienced and specialist capacity planning. With no summer shut-down we must have spare capacity to accommodate machine downtime for planned maintenance, as well as to meet demand growth and demand spikes. We have generated this extra capacity through ongoing investments in new plant and equipment, including the Ledia V5 Direct Imaging system installed in January 2015. Capacity planning has allowed us to handle demand growth (orders up this year already 16% on the same period in 2014), and demand spikes (orders for March 2015 up 35% compared to March 2014) as well as routine maintenance, without weakening our on-time delivery rate.

And if something goes wrong? Where possible we have duplicated processes and machinery, and we have two plants in Europe geared specifically to PCB prototype production, both using the same business model we have refined over the past 15 years.

To see one of our factories in action, go to the video of the Eger, Hungary factory or in more detail How to make a PCB, also filmed in Eger. See another reason why, when you place your order, you can be confident that you will get the right board on the right day.

Posted under:
Eurocircuits
Posted on:
23 Jun 2015
Hits:
1203

De E&A beurs 2015 was een succes voor Eurocircuits.

Bijna 600 mensen hebben onze stand bezocht en hun contactgegevens nagelaten. Dat resulteerde woensdagavond weer in de eerste plaats tijdens de uitreiking van de marketing cup.

Foto – Chiel van Diest

De nieuwigheden die we tijdens de beurs presenteerden en erover met onze klanten in debat gingen deden het goed:

  • De resonantie van onze twee nieuwe service NAKED proto en SEMI-FLEX pool schijnt goed te zijn.
  • eC-placer als prototype gepresenteerd op de beurs wekt hoge verwachtingen. We zijn vastbesloten er mee door te gaan en producten voor uitlevering beschikbaar te hebben tegen kwartaal 4 van 2015.

We hebben ook deelgenomen aan het project rond de e-brace (omschrijving en info hier). Het was weer een hele toer om live op de beurs te produceren en logistiek alles voor mekaar te krijgen. Proficiat aan alle deelnemers.

Voor de techneuten willen we er nog op wijzen dat Elektor een forum is gestart omtrent de functionaliteiten van de e-brace en wat je der verder mee kan. Zij zullen dit onderwerp verder uitspinnen.

 

Verder gaven we een lezing tijdens het seminar "wat kan er virtueel in de elektronicaketen"? (programma en presentaties hier). Hoewel de opkomst van bezoekers aan het seminar eerder karig was, was de kwaliteit van de bezoekers en de reacties zeer goed. De idee van productiespecialisten vroeg in het ontwikkeltraject te betrekken en als het kan eerst alles virtueel uit te voeren spreekt velen aan. Het is een onderwerp waar we de komende jaren nog veel van gaan horen en waar Eurocircuits een prominente rol in speelt: "Making boards in the PCB Cloud!" is bij ons een realiteit.

Samen met tbp hebben we het tot traditie verheven: de gezellige bar bij tbp met lekker Belgisch bier van Euriocircuits.

In het algemeen houden we een warm gevoel over aan de ontmoetingen met u, onze klanten.

Op naar de volgende editie in 2017.

Posted under:
eC-events
Posted on:
12 Jun 2015
Hits:
1003

Het Vermogenselektronica Event vindt plaats op dinsdag 23 juni 2015 in het "1931 Congrescentrum", in de Brabanthallen in Den Bosch, NL. Het doel van dit event is de diversiteit van toepassingen, innovaties en kennis te tonen op het vlak van Vermogenselektronica.

Het programma is samengesteld in overleg met de TU Delft en de TU Eindhoven. Zo is een kwalitatief sterk programma neergezet waarbij zowel de praktijk als de wetenschap aan bod komen.

Alle marktspelers: toepassers, ontwikkelaars, toeleveranciers en kennisinstituten komen samen tijdens het Vermogenselektronica Event 2015. Met vakgenoten kan men visies, ervaringen en kennis uitwisselen.

Het congresprogramma met 31 lezingen, de verschillende exposanten en de netwerkmogelijkheden maken dit event tot een dag waar u zeker bij moet zijn. Er zijn lezingen over componenten, ontwikkeling en test- & meetapparatuur.

Plenair zijn er twee lezingen gevolgd door 28 parallelle lezingen. In de parallelle sessies komen volgende onderwerpen aan bod:

  • Quality Monitoring
  • Conversion
  • Application
  • Power Research

Het Vermogenselektronica event 2015 biedt de bezoeker de laatste ontwikkelingen op het gebied van Vermogenselektronica en de contacten in Nederland/Benelux om kennis te vergaren en zo toepassingen te verbeteren.

Eurocircuits is er ook bij. Bestel hier je gratis toegangsbewijs.

Posted under:
eC-events
Posted on:
12 Jun 2015
Hits:
978