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How do we assure the quality of your PCB.

Posted by Lengyel Norbert
Lengyel Norbert
Norbert is quality manager in Eurocircuits Kft
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 15 April 2014
in Technology

Quality assurance - Part 1 : During Production

Introduction

Quality is not something that is inspected into your PCB.  We build it into your boards from the moment you open the price calculator.  Our smart menus guide you towards optimum manufacturability.  Then PCB Visualizer checks the manufacturability of your specific data-set.  We back the quality of your data by preparing the right tooling, using the right equipment, buying in the right materials, designing and implementing the right processing, and hiring and training the right operators.  There’s more on this in our video: “How to make a PCB.” Operator training is critical.  It is the duty of every operator to check the boards as they go through their process, and we make sure that they have the training and the expertise.

Of course, our fabrication process also include specific inspection and test steps.  We use these to make sure that our processes are running correctly.  These steps give you the added re-assurance that the board you receive is correct to your design and will perform correctly over the lifetime of your product.  These steps are described below.

Standards

We inspect all boards to IPC-A-600 Class 2  This is the standard used for most PCBs, and is the standard most often specified by our customers.  The IPC, or Institute for Printed Circuit Boards, is “a global trade association representing all facets of the industry including design, printed circuit board manufacturing and electronics assembly.”  The IPC-A-600 standard “describes the preferred, acceptable and non-conforming conditions that are either externally or internally observable on printed boards”.  It divides PCBs into 3 product classes.  Class 2 includes “products where continued performance and extended life is required, and for which uninterrupted service is desired but not critical.”  Class 3 (where uninterrupted service is critical) is used for aerospace, defence and medical applications.  For more information visit www.ipc.org.

Customers, especially those supplying the US market, may also specify UL marking.  In this case, we further inspect to UL796.  The Underwriters’ Laboratory (UL) is “an independent global safety science company …. dedicated to promoting safe living and working environments, UL helps safeguard people, products and places in important ways, facilitating trade and providing peace of mind.”  For PCBs, the most important criterion highlighted by UL marking is flammability.  All our FR4 material meets UL 94 V0 plastics flammability test.  For more on UL visit www.ul.com.

Inspection steps during production.

Front-end Engineering

The first step is to make sure that the data that we will use to make your PCBs is correct.  To find out how we do this, go to our blog “Front-end Data Preparation

Fabrication tests

We run 3 types of test during fabrication, visual, non-destructive measurements and destructive tests.  The destructive tests are used to check our processes.  They are made on actual PCBs or on the test coupons which we put onto every production panel.  After more than 30 years of PCB manufacturing experience, we have developed test coupons on the production panels which provide simple, non-destructive tests for more complex parameters.

Each fabrication step can be seen in our video “How to Make a PCB”.  The sequence below is based on a multilayer PCB.  Single- and double-sided boards do not use all these steps, but are tested in the same way.

Passport

The results of these checks are summarised for each job in its Passport which contains information on the materials used, measurements made and tests passed.  You can access the Passport via the blue book icon with each job under View Running Orders once it has been inspected or under Order repeats/View history.

Traceability

If you need more information on a job, we have full traceability back to material batches etc.  Contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or your local sales channel for this service.

Step 1.  Base material.

This is automatically checked against the order details using a data-matrix.  The material data (type, manufacturer, laminate and copper foil thickness) is entered into the job history and will appear in the final Passport.

 

 

2. Print and Etch inner layers.

Visual checks.

This step includes 3 visual checks:

  1. After printing and stripping to make sure that the unwanted etch resist has been stripped away cleanly
  2. After etching to make sure that all the unwanted copper has been etched away.
  3. At the end of the process to make sure that all the etch resist has been stripped from the board.

Sample check.

Each production panel has a specially developed test coupon which indicates that the board has been correctly etched and that the track widths and isolation distances are correct.  The type of etch resist used and the values for track width, isolation distances and annular ring are entered into the Passport file.

3.  Inspect inner layer copper patterns.

We use Automatic Optical Inspection equipment to scan the inner layer copper and compare it to the design data.  The machine checks that all track widths and isolation distances correspond to the design values and that there are no short or open circuits which will cause the finished board to malfunction.

A Pass is entered into the Passport.

4.  Multilayer bonding.

Material.

This is automatically checked against the order details using a data-matrix.  The material data (type, manufacturer, pre-preg and copper foil) is entered into the job history and will appear in the final Passport.

Thickness after bonding.

This is measured on each production panel and the result entered into the Passport.

5.  Drilling.

The drilling machines automatically check drill diameters to ensure that the size of the holes will be correct.  A special test coupon on multilayer boards confirms the position of the drilled holes relative to the (already printed) inner layers.

The smallest finished hole size is entered into the Passport.

6.  Hole-wall preparation.

We deposit a layer of carbon on the walls of the holes to make them conductive for electroplating.  We enter the process into the Passport.

7.  Apply plating resist

Visual checks.

After printing and stripping to make sure that the unwanted plating resist has been stripped away cleanly

Type of resist is entered into the Passport.

8. Copper and tin plating.

Non-destructive sample check.

The operator measures the copper thickness in the holes at 5 or more locations on one panel from every flight bar.  The result is entered into the Passport .

9.  Outer layer etching

Visual checks.

After etching to make sure that all the unwanted copper has been etched away.

Sample check.

Each production panel has a specially developed test coupon which indicates that the board has been correctly etched and that the track widths and isolation distances are correct.  The type of etch resist used and the values for track width, isolation distances and annular ring are entered into the Passport file.

10. Soldermask.

During process.

Visual checks:

  1. Each panel is evenly coated with soldermask ink (laquer)
  2. Alignment of soldermask phototool to the PCB

Sample checks:

The operator uses a projection microscope to check every panel to ensure that the soldermask is correctly aligned and that there are no solder-mask traces on pads.

The adhesion of the soldermask to the surface of the PCB is checked by the tape test used after legend printing.

The type of soldermask ink used is entered into the Passport data.

11.  Surface finish

Sample checks on all surface finishes:

  1. The thickness is measured using an X-ray scope.
  2. We check the adhesion of the surface finish to the surface of the PCB using the tape-test after legend-printing.

100% visual inspection.

1.  Lead-free hot-air levelling.

The surface must be flat and even across the PCB without any non wetting.  Component holes must not be narrowed or blocked.  A few via holes may be blocked if they are not covered by soldermask.

2.  Electroless gold over nickel.

The finish must cover all exposed copper and have the same colour across the PCB.  There must be no discolouration even in the holes

3.  Chemical silver.

There must be no tarnishing or blackening.

The surface finish used is entered into the Passport, even where the order is for “Any leadfree”.

For gold and silver finishes we also enter the actual values measured.

12.  Component legend.

Sample checks after curing:

The operator makes a tape test to check the adhesion of the surface finish, soldermask and legend to the surface of the PCB.  We press a strip of pressure-sensitive tape across the test area and then pull it off sharply.  There should be no bits of copper, surface coating, soldermask or legend ink adhering to the tape.

Visual check.

The operator checks that the legend on every board is clean and legible without blurring or smudging.

13.  Electrical test.

All boards are electrically tested except single-sided boards where electrical testing is an option.

 

  1. Shorts and open circuits.

We build a netlist from the Gerber and drill data.  We use this as a reference netlist to test all nets are tested for shorts and open circuits.  A pass is recorded in the Passport.  As an extra precaution, if your design system outputs IPC-D-356A netlist format include the file in your data-set.  We can then use this to check the Gerber netlist against your design netlist.

  1. Inner layer registration.

A special test coupon allows us to confirm that the inner layer registration is correct.

14.  Profiling and milling.

We check the size and position of the board profile and internal milling using special test coupons.

15.  Final inspection.

See Part 2.

 

Tags: Untagged

Your optimum PCB Design flow

Posted by Dirk Stans
Dirk Stans
Managing partner marketing and sales of Eurocircuits
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 17 October 2013
in PCB Design

Achieve the ideal PCB Design flow by using Eurocircuits' smart menus

In support of our Design engineering customer community, we have created smart menus and PCB visualization tools. These will help designers to follow the best PCB layout flow possible and thus save time, avoid communication problems and achieve the best price and reliability for their PCB.

Smart menus.

The Eurocircuits calculator is based upon the technology of our PCB Configurator software which is part of the PCB Visualization tools of our website. However this calculator can work without attaching data to it. You will have the complete service scope of Eurocircuits at your finger tips including all technical validation rules that apply when choosing different technical options for your board.

We therefore call it "smart menus". They contain:

  • Build-up wizard: more than 700 predefined build ups including blind and buried combinations can be chosen.
  • Technical validation: around 300 rules are built into the smart menus helping you to choose only those combinations of options that are viable. All violation are explained and possible corrections advised. If none are clear or what you had in mind, calling operator assistance through "launch inquiry" is always possible.
  • Classification wizard: our classification aide shows you the possible pattern and drill classes in function of the chosen base copper foils.
  • Price guidance: on every option you choose, the smart menu informs you if there will be a slight cost increase or if the board is no longer poolable and the cost will be calculated based on production panels. All prices are always calculated including alternatives based upon other more favourable quantities and delivery terms. Also a full customer definable price matrix is possible.

Visualization tools

After you have finished your PCB Layout based upon the PCB design parameters you defined using our smart menus , you can load your PCB data into the shopping basket of your account. Our PCB Visualizer software will start analysing your data and will come up with a reply some minutes later. Your board is now viewable. What can you discover?

  • PCB Visualizer: see your input data and if necessary map an individual data file to another function on the board.  You can view the board base upon the chosen order details or the default details in case you choose analyse my data. Going through all order details, you can view all comments and possible violation.
  • PCB Checker: shows the result of the design rule check of your data against the order details of the basket item. You can consult all possible errors individually and evaluate.
  • PCB Configurator: this tool allows you to change the order details and bring them in accordance with the content of your data.

Presentation "share our knowledge"

In this presentation we go through the PCB Design flow with the emphasis on the Eurocircuits smart menus and PCB Visualization tools and how they can help you gain time, avoid misunderstandings and save costs.

View the Presentation - click here

The presentation is best viewed when you open the speaker notes and view them on a second screen. This can be controlled from the option button in the bottom left corner.

Tags: Untagged

Through hole component soldering with the eC-reflow mate

Posted by Luc Smets
Luc Smets
Managing partner Eurocircuits
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 04 January 2012
in Technology

PIP (Pin in Paste) technology for soldering trough hole components

PIP is a technology for assembling through hole components using a conventional reflow soldering process. The process is also known as THTR (Through Hole Technology Reflow).

Most PCB's that contain SMD components usually also contain some through hole components, such as connectors, switches, capacitors and so on . The principle of PIP is that through hole components are placed into PTH holes with SMT solder past and then reflow soldered with the other SMT components together.

We judge this can be a technology of interest for electronics developers that decide to assemble their prototypes themselves.

The next figure shows the process sequence we advise :

Important parameters for this process are hole and pin sizes, boards thickness, thickness and opening of the stencil , used paste printing technique and used paste.

It is obvious that only components that can withstand the reflow soldering temperatures can be soldered this way.

Most datasheets for PIP connectors also contain useful information such as the recommended stencil design.

Some hints based on our experience to give you the best results:

 

Extend Extended Gerber - Gerber X2

Posted by Luc Samyn
Luc Samyn
Responsible for frontend engineering at Eurocircuits
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 10 December 2013
in PCB Design

Gerber's new attributes set to transform CAD to CAM communication

With the support of Eurocircuits,, LPKF and AT&S, Ucamco drafted a new specification for a ground-breaking second extension to the Gerber format. This offers an unequivocal standard for non-image data that is just as simple, practical and universally accessible as the well-known Gerber image data format it now supports.

Ucamco's Managing Director Karel Tavernier comments: "CAD/CAM professionals need to transmit data in a robust, reliable and cost-effective way, something the Gerber image format has been doing for years. It's freely available, simple and to the point. It can be used by everybody, no matter how big or small the CAD or CAM operation is. It's the most practical image description format out there, and by far the most used by our industry – every single day thousands of perfect PCB layer images are reliably transferred all over the world thanks to Gerber".

Indeed, with Gerber, CAD/CAM professionals know that the most critical and fragile part of their archives – the image data – is secure and accurate. But there is another part of the PCB design that images cannot convey. This non-image data includes information about layer order and function, the differentiation between objects like SMD and via pads, and a raft of further information that, together with the image data, helps to translate designers' intentions into high performance products.

The problem is that there is currently no Gerber standard for transferring non-image data, leaving designers to decide for themselves how best to communicate with their manufacturing partners. They might add text files or drawings to their Gerber archive, or they might not, putting the onus on CAM engineers to search for the necessary information, or contact the designer if it's missing. These are error-prone, time-consuming tasks that can end up affecting quality and deadlines, which can translate disastrously into loss of orders, clients and future business, especially in the time-critical context of prototypes and quick-turn boards. Thus whether you are a designer, customer or manufacturer of PCBs, data quality and clarity should be a top priority for you.

This is why Ucamco has developed its Gerber X2 format. X2 offers a series of attributes that provide a standard for describing non-image data – some might rather grandly say that they add intelligence to the image data. Applicable either to a whole file or to individual graphic objects, Gerber's standard attributes can now be used to define

  • Gerber file function:  top copper layer, top solder mask,  etc.
  • Part: single PCB, customer panel etc.
  • Object function: SMD pad, via pad etc
  • PCB profile
  • Drill tolerances
  • Locations of impedance-controlled tracks
  • Filled vias
  • An MD5 checksum for added security

The attributes have been purposely crafted, from scratch with the sole aim of supporting the transfer of PCB data from design to manufacturing. They are essential, simple and focused rather than a casual smorgasbord of "nice to haves" with unnecessary complexity, not to mention potential bugs. There is no overhead of manufacturing specific attributes as are found in CAM formats. X2 is simple and clean.

The attributes intentionally do not cover all possible non-image data.  Ucamco refrained from adding the netlist to X2 as there is a simple and well-established format adequately describing netlists:  IPC-356-A. Materials were not added as they are not linked to images and can be handled by a subset of IPC-2581 as soon as 2581 is opened up to partial implementations. In this way X2 delivers the best of all worlds: accessibility, simplicity, performance, and tried and tested formats that work for everybody. It's a great combination that gives designers a clear and simple method for ensuring that their manufacturing partners have all the data necessary for efficient, reliable manufacture.  And it eliminates the need to adopt complex new formats wholesale, which is a blessing, as Ucamco R&D engineer Thomas Weyn explains: “Imaging software, notoriously hard to implement, takes forever to debug and field test, especially for images as complex as PCBs. Here, errors are fiendishly difficult to detect and almost inevitably lead to scrap, so it is far preferable to keep what we know works (the Gerber image format) and support it, without disrupting it, with what is missing”.

A prime design goal of X2 is ease of adoption and of implementation. To fully exploit the productivity jump that X2 can bring, CAD and CAM software only requires quite minor updates. Given that the imaging model remains unchanged, it only requires adding a few extra lines with the attributes when writing a Gerber file – it could hardly be simpler. The payback for this is a more versatile product and greater competitivity for systems vendors. The attributes' use is not mandatory: they can be used wholesale, partially or not at all, whichever suits the implementation best. Most importantly, systems that have not been updated will still generate the correct image as Gerber X2 is upward compatible with previous versions of the format as the image is not affected by the attributes. Existing workflows are not broken by introducing X2.

Before the final version goes live, Ucamco encourages CAD and CAM professionals to look at it and in particular at the Attributes in Section 5, and participate in its fine-tuning by sending comments to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

In order to make X2 happen, Ucamco need CAD software vendors to buy in to X2. As X2 is easy to implement, it makes  a chance. But they need your support. Please write to Ucamco at gerber@ucamco.com and let them know that you support the Gerber X2 format, and that youy would implement it in your workflows when it is available.

The draft Gerber X2 second extension is available at www.ucamco.com/downloads and a brief press release describes the rationale for its development.

Tags: pcb design

Buildup wizard and layer editor updated

Posted by Luc Samyn
Luc Samyn
Responsible for frontend engineering at Eurocircuits
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 26 March 2014
in PCB Visualizer

In November 2013 we launched the first version of our Buildup wizard and Layer editor.  Meanwhile we have been looking at ways to make it easier and more convenient for users to order more complex boards online, to fine-tune orders and to check that data is complete, correct and manufacturable.  We have made a number of changes to the layout of the Price calculator and PCB Visualizer.  One of these is to put the Buildup wizard and the Layer editor into a single screen and simplify the way they work.

Layer Editor

Got a build-related error message in PCB Visualizer, either after running the “Analyse your data” pricing option or on a job in your basket?  The Layer editor allows you to assign manually files that for whatever reason PCB Visualizer has been unable to categorise.

In the case here, PCB Configurator has given a warning message that there are extra drill layers which it cannot resolve.  Open the Buildup wizard.  In the Imported Layers menu there are two blind via layers (Inner5_Bottom_drl and Top_Inner2_drl) which are designated as just Plated drill.

To fix this, open the pull-down box.  You will find a full list of layer-type options.  Select layer-type “Extra blind/buried via runs”.  PCB Visualizer will ask which layers the vias connect, advise you to select a reversed layer build and automatically complete the build.

Buildup wizard.

As before, the Buildup wizard allows you to select the most suitable build out of the 700+ pre-defined multilayer builds.  You can also:

Check the copper, pre-preg and core thickness by hovering your mouse over the respective layer

Change core thickness and copper foil thickness using the box bottom left.

Add blind or buried vias using the menu box “Blind/Buried via runs”.

Footnote.

We are constantly striving to improve the comfort and convenience of our website.  If you have any comments on this or any other part of our service please contact your usual sales channel, use our online chat or email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

New timeline makes order tracking smarter

Posted by Patrick Martin
Patrick Martin
Patrick retired as responsible for Eurocircuits sales in the UK and Ireland (an
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 26 March 2014
in Software

We’ve always had a “status” column under Running orders to tell you how far your order has got in the manufacturing process, but our customers have told us that the names of the steps and what they mean has not been clear enough.  We want to make our services as smooth and as transparent as possible for our design and purchasing customers, so we have introduced a new timeline.  Now in one place it tells you where your order is, what we are doing with it, whether you can make any changes, and when it will be shipped.  It links to full details of the order and to its associated paperwork.  All the information and links you need to check that your order is proceeding smoothly and will be delivered on schedule can be seen at a glance.

How does it work?

Select any running order and click on the green entry in the “Status” column.  This opens a new page. Three columns at the top display:

  • Order summary including the shipping date and a link to the full order details;
  • Shipping address;
  • Invoice address.

Below them is a thumbnail of the top and bottom of the finished PCB, and 5 boxes showing the timeline through the factory.  Each box contains 1 or 2 green dots.  Click on the dot to see the associated message.

The boxes and dots correspond to the process steps in the Status column.

Analysis

The Analysis box covers data preparation.  There are 5 status steps:

  1. Analysis. The order has been placed.  One of our engineers is inputting and checking the data.  More.

  2. Single image.  An engineer is preparing your data for production.  The name “single image” may be a bit confusing.  It refers to what we will deliver to you as customer.  So, depending on what you order, it may be a single circuit or a delivery panel.  We put the single images together to build the data-set for the pooling panel that will go through the factory.  More.

  3. Single image CC. A second engineer is cross-checking the work of the first engineer to ensure that it is correct.  More.

    These are the data checking stages.  They are shown by a single green dot in the Analysis box with the message:



    You still have the opportunity to modify your data.  There is a direct link to the appropriate menu.  If you have requested a Pre-production check you will receive an email that we have prepared the production data and it is ready for you to check.

  4. EXP. We have raised an exception at one of the preceding stages.  When this is sorted, the job will go back to status Analysis.

    Now there is a red dot in the Analysis box and the message indicates what action you should take.



    A green ring indicates that the order is back in process.



  5. Panelise.  The single image data is now ready to be put onto a production panel.

    The single image data preparation is complete and no further changes to the data are possible.  The only change you can make to your order is to change the delivery address.  There is now a second green dot in the Analysis box with the message:



    The order confirmation lists the technical parameters of your order.  If there is something wrong, you should contact us by chat immediately.

Production.

The status stages are

  1. In production.  The job has been put onto a production panel and is now in the process of manufacture.



  2. Accepted after inspection.  Your job has been manufactured and inspected.  It is now ready for shipment.

Shipping

  1. Internal logistics, 4 Express to Aachen, 6 Aachen logistics. Your job is being prepared for dispatch.  The second two status names are for our internal use only.



  2. Shipped. Your order has been shipped.

    The message includes links the information you may need at this stage:
  • Tracking number and link to the courier service.
  • Delivery note to confirm what we have dispatched and where
  • Passport for the job’s quality record.

Invoice

Invoiced.  There is only 1 status step and 1 message.  Invoices are normally emailed to the designated contact 2 – 3 days after the boards are dispatched.

Payment

Unpaid invoices are listed under the Financial tab, rather than recorded as a status step.  When the invoice has been paid we complete the timeline.

The Evertiq Conference 2014

Posted by Dirk Stans
Dirk Stans
Managing partner marketing and sales of Eurocircuits
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 26 March 2014
in Meet Eurocircuits

 

The Evertiq Conference in Stockholm, 13.05.2014

 

Eurocircuits is a Main Sponsor at The Evertiq Conference 2014 in Stockholm at 13.5.2014. You can find us there as exhibitor and in the conference as speaker.

 

The conference takes place at the Scandic Infra City, Kanalvägen, Upplands Väsby, Sweden. The program of the conference can be found here and runs from 08H30 to 16H15.

 

Eurocircuits will be showing its newest tools for PCB visualization and DFM, prior to ordering and completely free of cost to the user.

 

Register for a free TEC2014 entry ticket. Please do not forget to mention Eurocircuits.

 

More on the show can be found on the TEC2014 website or contact us, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Tags: Exhibitions

Affidabilita & Tecnologie 2014

Posted by Mauro
Mauro
Mauro has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 26 March 2014
in Meet Eurocircuits

Affidabilita & Tecnologie 16th and 17th of April 2014

Eurocircuits is exhibiting at Affidabilita & Tecnologie, Lingotto Fiere, Via Nizza, 280, Torino, Italy. You can find us on booth D17. Hall plan.

The exhibition is devoted to methods, solutions and technologies for the competitive Innovation. Designers are the targetted audience for the show and conference.

Eurocircuits will be showing its newest tools for PCB visualization and DFM, prior to ordering and completely free of cost to the user.

Register for a free A&T2014 entry ticket. Please do not forget to mention Eurocircuits.

Opening hours:

April 16th: 9.30 a.m. - 18.00 p.m.

April 17th: 9.30 a.m. - 17.30 p.m.

More on the show can be found on the A&T2014 website or contact Mauro Villa, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Your PCB Visualizer questions answered.

Posted by Patrick Martin
Patrick Martin
Patrick retired as responsible for Eurocircuits sales in the UK and Ireland (an
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 20 March 2014
in PCB Visualizer

Since it was launched in 2012, PCB Visualizer has processed around 100,000 PCB designs.  Most of these have either validated the customer’s data-set or raised clear issues (missing files, track widths or isolations out of specification, etc.).  But every day PCB Visualizer presents results on a few jobs (perhaps 1 - 2% of the total) which are not clear to our customers, so they contact us by chat, phone or email for clarification.  Many of these questions are the same, so it is worthwhile now to explain how PCB Visualizer works and what it is designed to do.

PCB Visualizer is an automatic Gerber checker, running a preliminary analysis on customers’ data either prior to quotation or prior to order.  The purpose of the check is to ensure that all the data files are present and there are no major data issues which will cause an exception and hence delay production once an order is placed.

This is not the only check that we will carry out on your order.  Our engineers will re-check your data 100% while preparing the production data used to manufacture your PCB (more on this process).  This means that in many cases where PCB Visualizer raises an issue, you can place your order confident that our engineers will resolve the issue without any problem.

ACTION tips.

  • If you need to change your order details or upload a new data-set to sort a PCB Visualizer issue, click the Modify button in the Basket menu.  If you want to change the order details without uploading new data, just click Continue in the “Complete action” menu: there is no need to reload an unchanged data-set.
  • If you want to check the actual production data, use the “Pre-production check” function under the “Calculate and order” tab

PCB Visualizer is a Gerber analysis tool.  That means it works on lists of shape definitions and X,Y co-ordinates for layer and drill information.  PCB Visualizer:

  1. Builds a map of each layer from the files.  Note that the co-ordinates are not necessarily presented in any logical order.
  2. Aligns the layers with each other.  If the layers are not aligned in the CAD data, this is a statistical process.
  3. Determines the board outline.  If/when Gerber attributes (see blog) become widely used, the designer will be able to assign a “profile” attribute.  Until then, looking for an outline can cause issues.
  4. Determines the stack up.  This is based partly on file names and partly on an analysis of the contents of each layer.  In the absence of fixed layer naming conventions this can also cause issues.
  5. Analyses the build found against the order: are all files required by the order present in the data set?  Are all layer files in the data set included in the order?
  6. Analyses each layer for minimum track, minimum isolation, etc., assign a pattern class and drill class and compare with the order.
  7. Analyses drill and copper layers for annular ring values and compares them with the order.
  8. Completes the report by reading in other information from the order.

 

 

 

What are the most common questions our customers ask us?

1.  Why is my job taking so long to process?

There are several possible reasons:

  • An average job takes 2 – 3 minutes to process and we process 6 jobs simultaneously.  We receive around 300 orders a day, but they don’t come in evenly throughout the day.  So at busy times there is quite a queue of jobs being processed.  Our development engineers are always looking at ways to speed up processing.
  • Some jobs have very large data files.  This applies especially to boards with plane areas or layers built up from fine-line draws.  In these cases PCB Visualizer may need to process tens of thousands of vectors.
  • Sometimes there are software issues or a server is down.  We always try to fix these as quickly as possible.

If it’s not a busy time of day (late afternoon usually) and your job has normal size files but is still taking more than an hour to process, contact us by chat.

2.  What do the flags mean?

There are no issues with your job.  You can proceed to order.

PCB Visualizer could not import all the data or could not work out the correct build.  Check the associated message to get more information on the issue.

PCB Visualizer has found a non-critical issue.  You can place your order as our engineers will probably be able to resolve the issue at the tool-preparation stage.  But you might want to review the data before you proceed.

PCB Visualizer has found a critical issue.  You need to correct it now to avoid an exception later.

3.  What do the messages mean?

There’s a full list of messages in the PCB Visualizer Help files (click [?] at the top right of the PCB Visualizer screen).  The most common issues we find are:

Import failed.

Data not in Extended Gerber (RS-274X), or EAGLE .brd Version 6.

ACTION needed:

  • If the data is in Standard Gerber (RS-274D), PCB Visualizer cannot read it but our CAM systems can.  Check that you have included an aperture table and place  your order.
  • Otherwise generate Extended Gerber files from your CAD system.

No outline detected.  Outline might be incorrect. Registration may be incorrect.

To find the outline, PCB Visualizer needs to be able to register the layers and then find a continuous rectangular box enclosing the PCB data.  Typical reasons for the message may be:

  • Layers cannot be registered.  Registering the layers is a statistical operation.  It can be an issue if the layers are not registered in the CAD data and the layout contains only a few elements.
    • ACTION needed: Place your order: our engineers will register the data manually.
  • There is no rectangular box because:
    • There is no outline in the data.
      • ACTION needed: Upload a new data-set with an outline on at least 1 (better all) copper layers (see PCB Design Guidelines p.10) and place your order.The board is not rectangular or you have used corner-blocks
    • The board is not rectangular or you have used corner-blocks
      • ACTION needed: Place your order: if you have defined your outline clearly, our engineers will find it.  We recommend that you do not use corner blocks as they can be ambiguous.
    • There is data outside the board outline on the copper layers
      • ACTION needed: Place your order: our engineers will find the outline and delete any data outside the board profile before manufacture.

No drill layers found.

This may be because you have not included a drill file in your data-set or because you have supplied a Gerber drill map instead of a drill file (see PCB Design Guidelines p. 14).

  • ACTION needed: Load a new data-set including an ASCII-formatted Excellon drill file.

Board buildup could not be determined.  Board buildup may not be correct.

PCB Visualizer determines the buildup on the basis of the layer names and the content of the layers.  If possible use our recommended layer naming conventions (see PCB Design Guidelines p. 4).  Otherwise if PCB Visualizer has not assigned the layers correctly, use the Layer editor to correct the buildup.  PCB Visualizer will learn the new assignment for future reference.

4.  PCB Visualizer has put a red flag against my job: what should I do next?

Red flags show a serious discrepancy between order and the data. The first column shows the “required value” for the class selected for the order.  The “measured value” in red shows what PCB Visualizer has actually found in the data.  Some of the most common issues are:

Plating index lower than 0.4.

The plating index is a measure of the evenness of the copper thickness across the PCB (more).  If the value is less than 0.4 there is a risk that some areas may be over-plated (copper too thick) and some under-plated (copper too thin).  Click on the line to see the plating index image.

  • ACTION needed: For prototype boards this is not normally an issue.  Place your order, though we cannot guarantee that the plating will be perfect.  However, we recommend that you try to even out the copper density (usually by adding extra copper) before going into volume production.  This will make a more robust end-product.

Minimum track-width and isolation distance.

PCB Visualizer flags any values less than the minimum specified for the chosen pattern class (see PCB Design Guidelines p. 6).  Use PCB Checker to pinpoint the errors.  You have 3 options depending on the number and type of the errors:

  • Modify the order to use a higher class.  Note that this may increase the price of the board, and class 10 cannot be made.
  • Modify your design and upload a complete new data-set.
  • Our engineers may be able to correct a few minor errors.  Place the order.  If we cannot fix them, we will raise an exception.

Minimum annular ring.

PCB Visualizer flags any values less than the minimum specified for the chosen pattern class (PCB Design Guidelines p. 7).  Use PCB Checker to pinpoint the errors.

Component holes.

Note that we allow some relaxation of the annular ring rules for obround holes (PCB Design Guidelines p. 9). PCB Visualizer always shows the minimum ring value.  If the hole and pad are within the relaxed rules, proceed with the order.

Otherwise you have 4 options depending on the number and type of the errors:

  • Check that the hole size specified for the component is correct.  If a smaller hole size will solve the problem, change the value and upload a complete new data-set.
  • Modify the order to use a higher class.  Note that this may increase the price of the board, and class 10 cannot be made.
  • Modify your design and upload a complete new data-set.
  • Our engineers may be able to correct a few minor errors.  Place the order.  If we cannot fix them, we will raise an exception.

Via holes.

In many cases, annular ring issues on via holes can be resolved by our engineers.  They either reduce the finished hole size or increase the pad sizes (especially on inner layers).  They will raise an exception if the reduced hole size necessitates a more expensive class.

Note.

We assume that any hole of 0.45 mm finished diameter is a via hole which we can reduce.  If you have component holes of 0.45 mm finished diameter or less, use the box in the Price Calculator marked “Holes <= may be reduced” to indicate the largest hole which can be treated as a via hole.

5.  Why doesn’t PCB Visualizer display the slots and internal cut-outs in my job?

PCB Visualizer is a Gerber/drill analyser.  Gerber data defines tracks, pads and planes.  Drill data defines round holes.  Slots and internal cut-outs are defined by draws, in different ways, sometimes on a mechanical layer and sometimes on a copper or legend layer.  There is no reliable algorithm to recognize them automatically.  However our engineers will recognize them during front-end data preparation.  For the clearest way to define slots and cut-outs see PCB Design Guidelines p. 13.

If the slots and cut-outs are correctly drawn, place your order and our engineers will enter them into the production data.  If you want to check them, use the “Pre-production check” function

6.  PCB Visualizer hasn’t assigned the layers right: what should I do now?

Buildup is wrong

This can usually be avoided by clear layer naming conventions.

  • ACTION needed: Correct the build using the layer editor function and proceed with your order.

Layers mis-assigned

An unusual layout without a clear name may be mis-described.

  • ACTION needed. Correct the build using the layer editor function and proceed with your order.

PCB Visualizer has not recognised my profile/scoring layers.

PCB Visualizer can check and measure but it cannot interpret, especially if the mechanical data is stored in a document layer. Place your order: our engineers will normally sort this out.

PCB Visualizer has not recognised my blind/buried via layers.

There is no standard way to define these so PCB Visualizer cannot detect them.  Define them using the Buildup Wizard and proceed with your order.

7.  PCB Visualizer can’t read multi-job files.

I want Eurocircuits to build me a customer panel so I have put the 2 data-sets into 1 .zip file; but PCB Visualizer can’t show them properly.  PCB Visualizer has been developed to work on single circuits.  To check the data load each separately.  Otherwise ignore PCB Visualizer, place your order and our engineers will panelise the files to your drawing.

 


RF2014 - RF Technology days!

Posted by Dirk Stans
Dirk Stans
Managing partner marketing and sales of Eurocircuits
User is currently offline
on Monday, 17 March 2014
in Meet Eurocircuits

RF technology days - Een gezamelijk initiatief van een aantal leden van het FHI (NL) en het FEE (B) !

De eerste editie van de RF technology days heeft als focus "trends in Radio Frequency".

Nederland en Vlaanderen zijn niet alleen 1 taalgebied met 22 miljoen inwoners maar vormen tevens 1 markt. Geografisch is onze markt niet groot. De afstanden zijn te overzien maar de reistijden niet vanwege de enorme verkeersdensiteit binnen onze regio. FHI en FEE vonden het zinvol om de handen in elkaar te slaan en rond het thema van RF een programma op te zetten met een lezingendag in België en een in Nederland zodat we voor de elektronica-ingenieurs die ons event bezoeken de reistijden beperken.

Net zoals voor andere events, LED event, D&E event, enz... zijn het de deelnemers die de technische inhoud van de lezingen verzorgen. De eerste editie van de RF dagen beschikt over een sterk deelnemersveld. Naast Eurocircuits zijn de volgende bedrijven mee actief:

- 1 april, Mechelen - België: lijst van deelnemers

- 2 april, Leiden - Nederland: lijst van deelnemers

Met hun voordrachten focussen de deelnemers op welke nieuwe technologiën en applicaties er staan aan te komen in het RF landschap. Kennis en praktische ontwikkelingen staan centraal in zowel de plenaire als paralelle sessies gedurende de dag. De programmas voor beide dagen vindt u hier:

- 1 april, Mechelen - België: lezingenoverzicht

- 2 april, Leiden - Nederland: lezingenoverzicht

Registreer nu via deze link en verzeker u van uw gratis toegangsbewijs.

De locaties van beide dagen liggen mooi centraal verdeeld binnen de Nederlandstalige regio:

- 1 april, België: Lamot congrescentrum, Van Beethovenstraat 8, 2800 Mechelen (Google maps)

- 2 april, Nederland: Huygens Laboratorium, Einsteinweg 55, 2333 CC Leiden (Google maps)

Meer info over de RF dagen vindt u hier.

Tags: Exhibitions

WOTS 2014 -World of Electronics!

Posted by Dirk Stans
Dirk Stans
Managing partner marketing and sales of Eurocircuits
User is currently offline
on Monday, 10 March 2014
in Meet Eurocircuits

World of Electronics 2014 - 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.

 

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.

Tags: Exhibitions

Eurocircuits expose au salon ENOVA LYON les 12 et 13 février 2014

Posted by Philippe Poutout
Philippe Poutout
Philippe is responisble for the French Eurociruits subsidiary
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 04 February 2014
in Meet Eurocircuits

Eurocircuits, fabricant de circuits imprimés prototypes et petites séries, acteur de proximité et fervent promoteur des salons en province expose au salon ENOVA LYON les 12 et 13 février 2014 - Stand B34 - Cité Centre des congrès - 50 Quai Charles de GaulleGPS : latitude 45.7851676, longitude 4.8528885.

Badge gratuit sur  www.e-registration.fr/enova_2014/visiteurs/site/ - Code IA

Horaires : 12/02/2014 de 9H00 à 18H00, le 13/02/2014 de 9H00 à 17H00.

Nous proposons des circuits-imprimés nus, minces et rigides jusqu’à 16 couches à partir de 2 jours selon la technologie et la quantité. Finesse d’image jusqu’à 90µm, trous borgnes et/ou enterrés, vias thermiques, Tg standard 150°C, etc. Délai économique 7 jours pour les lots inférieurs à 50dm².

Tous nos services, PCB proto, STANDARD pool, RF pool, IMS pool (SMI), BINDI pool, STENCIL sont sans frais d’outillages, sans minimum de commande et sans obligation de règlement en ligne. http://be.eurocircuits.com/shop/ecbasket/services.aspx?lang=en

Nouveaux service BINDI pool, moyennes séries à prix Asie, contrôlées et expédiées par nos unités européennes sans impact sur les frais de port.

Circuits imprimés identifiables entre tous ou réalisation de face avant avec PCB PIXture ! http://www.eurocircuits.com/index.php/eurocircuits-printed-circuits-blog/pcb-pixture-makes-your-boards-stand-out-from-the-crowd-

Efficacité et transparence avec un accès 24H/24 et 7J/7, calculs de prix, demandes d’offres, commandes et suivi jusqu’à la facturation. Tout document les concernant est à disposition sur le compte client et peut être téléchargé.

Avant de valider une commande PCB Visualizeur fait la vérification automatique du dossier et indique toute éventuelle anomalie permettant ainsi d’éviter les exceptions techniques. Il vous montre les fichiers tels que nous les voyons, permet d’en assigner l’ordre, de choisir un empilage, etc.

Les commandes sont toutes produites avec le même niveau de qualité dans nos unités en Europe et en Inde pour le service Bindi pool selon la technologie et le choix du client.

Les usines sont ISO9001, les fabrications en conformités avec IPC 600 classe II au minimum et la directive 2002/95/EC (Rohs), agrément UL en option sans coût supplémentaire.

 

Services complémentaires :

eC-equipment-prototype : table à sérigraphies avec registration automatique, four  à refusions.

eC-spare-parts : accessoires et pièces détachées.

eC-consumables : consommables, outillage, kit de prise en main.

Eagle : licences de CAD

Tags: Exhibitions

Southern Manufacturing and Electronics Show 2014

Posted by Patrick Martin
Patrick Martin
Patrick retired as responsible for Eurocircuits sales in the UK and Ireland (an
User is currently offline
on Monday, 03 February 2014
in Meet Eurocircuits

New UK Sales Manager, new PCB service, new functionality, new support

“A Show in a tent - in February - in England – it’ll never catch on”.  That’s the Southern Manufacturing and Electronics Show, now in its 9th. year, and this year with over 600 exhibitors even larger than before.  Eurocircuits will be there 12 – 13 February at FIVE in Farnborough on Stand M77.

New Sales Manager

This year as well as new product launches we have a new person launch.

After 42 years in the PCB industry and 8 most enjoyable years at Eurocircuits, the time has come for me to retire.  Eurocircuits have appointed Steve Jones as UK Sales Manager with effect from 1 February 2014.  With a background in electronic design and assembly Steve brings a whole new set of skills to the Eurocircuits support package.  He will be on the stand throughout the show and hopes to meet as many existing Eurocircuits customers as possible.

As well as Southern Manufacturing, Steve will be visiting our plants in Belgium and Hungary in February, so I will continue in post until 24 February.  After that call Steve on 07794 906982 or email him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

New service _ BINDI pool

Do you need medium-volume boards (up to 1600 half-Eurocards per batch)?  Do you want Asian prices with European service and support?

BINDI pool boards are produced in our new factory in India.  We use the same pooling technology, and the same materials, quality standards and equipment as in our European factories.  The finished boards are shipped to our factory in Germany, inspected and couriered to you at European rates without customs delays.  Find out more on our stand, or get prices and place orders using the same menus as the other Eurocircuits services. BINDI blog.

New price calculator functions

Specify blind and buried vias using the new Buildup wizard.  Not all blind/buried via builds are possible, so share our knowledge: run the Buildup wizard before you commit to a particular PCB structure.  The software automatically checks that we can produce your proposed build and if not explains why.  That way there will be no design re-spins or production hold-ups to delay time to market.Occasionally PCB Visualizer cannot assign layers correctly.  Rather than miss the benefits of a Visualizer check use the new Layer mapping function to assign the layers manually.


New support route - online chat

Need a fast answer to a technical question?  And can't wait for an email response?  Use the online chat function in the bottom right corner of your Eurocircuits screen.  One of our engineers will provide an immediate answer (currently during Belgian office hours only).

 

What else?

  • Live demonstrations of the full range of Eurocircuits PCB services
  • Live pricing
  • Our bench-top reflow soldering equipment, eC-stencil-mate and eC-reflow mate
  • Expert advice and tips on EAGLE CAD and reflow soldering technology

For more information on Southern Manufacturing and Electronics at FIVE in Farnborough 12 - 13 February plus free registration go to http://www.industrysouth.co.uk/.

If you have any questions on any aspects of our services, call me on 07834 281514 up to 24 February and after that Steve Jones on 07794 906982.

Tags: Exhibitions

Gerber past, present and future.

Posted by Patrick Martin
Patrick Martin
Patrick retired as responsible for Eurocircuits sales in the UK and Ireland (an
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 08 January 2014
in PCB Design

More than 95% of all PCB designs produced worldwide are transferred from designer to fabricator as Gerber files.  On most CAD systems the Gerber files are output automatically.  It is only rarely the designers have to concern themselves about how a Gerber file represents their data.  This in itself is a good measure of the power and ubiquity of the format, but occasionally an issue arises where some background knowledge may be helpful – and there are developments being planned for the format which will make it even more useful in future.

Gerber past:

Why “Gerber”?

Joe Gerber (1924 – 1996) was a US inventor who had fled from Austria to the US in 1940.  Right from his student days he was interested in accurate data plotting, and during the 1950’s he developed the digital XY co-ordinate table which became the core of his future business, Gerber Scientific.  The first product he launched using the new table was one of the world’s first digital drafting machines.  Among later products was automatic cloth cutting machinery which is still widely used in the world’s garment industry.  In the ‘80s he developed computerised equipment for machining spectacle lenses, again still used today.

In the 1960s Joe Gerber found another use for his XY table.  He introduced the world’s first NC photoplotter to generate the phototools used to produce PCBs.  It worked by first moving an optical head containing a light source to the correct location over the film on the bed of the plotter.  A circular wheel with different sized/shaped holes in it (apertures) was then rotated so that the correct aperture was under the light source.  For a pad the light-source was flashed on and off, exposing the pad on the film.  For a track the light was left on while the head moved, drawing the track on the film.  Hence we still talk about “aperture tables”, and, less often these days, “flashes” and “draws”.  The plotters were known as vector plotters as the head followed the actual pattern of the PCB.  The actual drive format was based on a pre-existing format, RS-274-D, developed by the US Electronic Industries Association (EIA) to drive any NC machine.  The data was loaded into the very first Gerber photoplotters on punched cards.

RS-274-D becomes RS 274X

By the early 1980s PCB Computer-Aided Design (CAD) systems were becoming more common, replacing the old hand-taped 2:1 artworks.  CAD systems could output drive data directly to a photoplotter to generate the phototools.  At that time most photoplotters were Gerber plotters.  Other vendors moved into the photoplotter market, but as Gerber had published a full specification of their format in 1980, Gerber RS-274-D became the de facto standard.

As a vehicle for transferring PCB layer images, the format had one critical limitation: the size, shape and number of the apertures was limited by the physical aperture wheel.  This worked (more or less) for designs using conventional through-hole components with round or square pads, but it couldn’t handle the new surface-mount components which used a wide variety of mainly rectangular pad sizes.  Using RS-274-D the only solution was to “paint” the pads with tiny draws.  Similarly, a simple plane layer could be plotted in reverse, that is, the clearance holes in the plane are plotted black and the board manufacturer reverses the polarity either in his front-end CAM system or physically by contact printing.  But this won’t work for mixed plane layers or planes on signal layers.  These had to be filled with draws.  A large image with SMDs and planes could take up to 24 hours to plot on this type of plotter.

The solution was a new type of photo-plotter and a new format.  The raster photo-plotter used a light source, typically a laser, to raster-scan the film in a continuous pattern.  The image was built up by a sequence of laser on, laser off commands.  Now any shape could be plotted, built up of raster pixels.  Today this is the standard industry tool for photo-imaging PCBs, with laser photo-plotters using up to 48 independently-switched simultaneous beams plotting at resolutions down to 50,000 dots per inch or more.

Now it was possible to make the Gerber format more flexible and more suited to the requirements of the PCB designer.  RS-274X or Extended Gerber was launched in 1991.  This allowed the user to define and image any shape, as a pad, a track or a polygon (plane).  The aperture definitions no longer depended on a physical wheel and so they could be derived automatically from the CAD job and included in the file as part of the output.

Gerber today.

RS-274X is the standard PCB layer image data transfer format used today.  It is clear, unambiguous, and, if any questions arise, man-readable.  Each file is complete and allows you to draw any pad-shape or copper area that you want.

The old Standard Gerber RS-274-D still lingers on, despite its drawbacks.  It is very limited; it needs a separate aperture table which often seems to go missing; it produces huge and unwieldy files; the output may require the merging of positive and negative images which at best requires extensive clean-up and at worst generates hard-to-spot errors.

Eurocircuits can still accept the older format if needed, e.g. for old jobs, though it does not work with PCB Visualizer.  However, Extended Gerber, RS-274X is our preferred format as it has none of the limitations of RS-274-D and as each file is complete including the embedded aperture definition it works with PCB Visualizer, offering you all the benefits of our advanced data checking technology.  All current generation and most older CAD systems generate RS-274X output.  If your CAD system is still outputting the old-style Gerber RS-274-D, look into the output settings.  Sometimes it is possible to switch from RS-274-D to RS-274X.  There may be different terminology used on different systems.  If you are in doubt, ask us.

For more advice on input formats, go to our PCB Design Guidelines

 

Gerber tomorrow.

Extended Gerber, RS-274X, provides an exact and unambiguous image of the layers of a PCB, but there is still some layer information which is necessary for fabrication (especially for automated data preparation) but is not included in the format.

Examples include:

  • What is the function of this layer: top copper, top solder mask, etc.?
  • Does the image show a single PCB or a delivery panel?
  • What is the function of this object: is it a SMD pad or a via pad, fiducial etc.?
  • What is the board profile?  Automatic recognition software like PCB Visualizer can recognize rectangular profiles but not complex shapes.
  • What are the drill tolerances on this hole?  For example, it may be a press-fit hole.
  • Which are the impedance-controlled tracks?
  • Which vias need to be filled?

The next step is to incorporate this type of information into the data transfer format.  Any such further extension of the format has to be compatible with the existing format and with existing CAD systems.  Although other formats have been proposed which can include non-image information, Gerber is so widely used and so effective in operation, that, like the QWERTY, QWERTZ and AZERTY keyboards, it cannot be easily replaced.

The Gerber format today is maintained and developed by the Belgian company Ucamco which bought the PCB Division of Gerber Scientific in 1997.  Ucamco have recently published the blueprint for the next generation of RS-274X, Gerber RS-274X2.  This adds attributes into the format which convey the information listed above.

This new development is further explained in our technical blog on Gerber X2.  Eurocircuits are working closely with Ucamco on the new format as part of their drive to provide better tools for the European and global PCB design community.  As the new attributes are implemented into CAD systems, we will add new functionality into our data input and validation procedures to handle them.  Of course, we will also continue to accept the older Gerber formats.

RoHS and lead-free compliance

Posted by Lengyel Norbert
Lengyel Norbert
Norbert is quality manager in Eurocircuits Kft
User is currently offline
on Monday, 16 December 2013
in Technology

What is RoHS?


RoHS regulations are designed to limit or eliminate substances that are dangerous to the environment and to people. Inadequately treated e-waste poses environmental and health risks. The RoHS directive is also meant to increase the amount of e-waste that is appropriately treated and to reduce the volume that goes to disposal.

RoHS (Restriction of Use of Hazardous Substances) regulations limit specific substances – lead, cadmium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB), mercury, hexavalent chromium, and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants – in electrical and electronic equipment.

Does RoHS affect the quality of PCBs?

RoHS is not a quality standard, and the simple fact that boards are RoHS compatible does not add to the quality of the board. RoHS, or more familiar ‘lead-free’ does have serious effect on PCB fabrication and soldering. The fact that boards are soldered at higher temperatures requires changes in the PCB manufacturing process.  New FR-4 materials are developed to withstand the higher temperatures without reducing the lifetime of the final product. More info can be found in our article about lead-free soldering

RoHS and RoHS2 directives

The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union created a program that standardizes the restriction and use of hazardous substances within the EU while contributing to the protection of human health and the environment. The EU has published Directive 2002/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 January 2003 on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment and Directive 2011/65/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2011 on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (recast). These directives are commonly referred to as the RoHS and RoHS2 directives.

What is RoHS compliance? - RoHS declaration

RoHS compliance means acting in full accordance with RoHS regulations.

DECLARATION

According to RoHS directive 2011/65/EC hereby we declare that the Printed Wire Boards produced by EUROCIRCUITS do not contain more than the allowed quanitity of the following materials This jugment is based on the manufacturer's classification. This declaration is valid for all printed circuits produced in Eurocircuits Kft - Eger, Hungary, Eurocircuits Aachen GmbH- Kettenhausen and Eurocircuits India Ltd - Gandhinagar

 

  • Lead (Pb) (excess tolerance-limit)
  • Mercury (Hg)
  • Cadmium (Cd)
  • Hexavalent Chromium
  • PBB
  • PBDE

For Eurocircuits ,

Lengyel Norbert

Quality Assurance manager

PCB Visualizer - the next level of intelligence

Posted by Dirk Stans
Dirk Stans
Managing partner marketing and sales of Eurocircuits
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 13 November 2013
in PCB Visualizer

New features: "Layer editor" and "Buildup wizard"

Two new functions extend the power of PCB Visualizer: "Buildup wizard" and "Layer editor". The Buildup wizard allows you to add blind and buried vias into one of our 700 pre-set multilayer builds. Layer editor allows you to map your files to their types or functions in a build. Together they bring new functionality to our smart menu concept. PCB Visualizer gives you a more accurate analysis of your data and a more accurate price. Your job goes into production faster without any delays caused by data issues.

Layer editor.

The new Layer Editor can be accessed in the import section in PCB Visualizer and in the PCB Configurator price calculation menu where is resides within the Buildup wizard under Layer Mapping. It allows you to interactively link data files of layers to their type/function in the buildup.

In PCB Visualizer the Layer Editor performs a dual function. Every year we receive over 40,000 new designs from around 12,000 designers. Not all of them are able to follow our recommendations on file naming which prevents PCB Visualizer to be fault less on layer assignment. Using the Layer Editor the designer can assign the layers manually or correct PCB Visualizer’s tentative assignment. Correct Layer mapping results into an accurate analysis of the board data and a correct price.

At the same time, PCB Visualizer is learning new assignment rules. The algorithms that it uses for Layer mapping are based on thousands of examples, collected over several years. Every new manual assignment is stored and analysed by self-learning software within the program so that more data sets can be read correctly in the future.

The Layer Editor can be used prior to calculating a price when using the option "Analyse your data". Upload your files and if there are any layer assignment issues, you can use the Layer editor to resolve them. If there are other data issues flagged up by PCB Visualizer, for example, fine tracks or gaps, use PCB Checker to pinpoint each one. You can then modify the design data if required, or use the measured values shown PCB Configurator. In any case you get a more accurate quotation.  If you add blind or buried vias using Board buildup, a drop down containing your data files will be available in the “layer mapping” tab, so that you can assign the drill files in your dataset to the newly created blind/buried vias in the buildup.

Buildup wizard.

The new Board buildup function works inside the Buildup wizard which can be found in our price calculator and in PCB Configurator. You can choose from over 700 pre-set multilayer builds, accessed by number of layers, board thickness, build and copper weight. If you can use a pre-set build you get your offer faster, the boards are easier to build and so the price is lower.

Board buildup allows you to add blind and buried vias using a simple interactive menu . However, not all combinations of layer builds and blind/ buried vias can actually be made. We know that pressurized designers do not have time to work out in detail what is and what is not possible. Our smart menus allow us to share our fabrication knowledge with you as a board designer in an efficient and effective way. So the Board buildup software includes automatic validation functionality. This immediately flags up invalid combinations with a clear explanations of what is wrong.

 

Blind vias correct.

Blind vias incorrect

Use Board buildup to find what combinations of builds and blind/buried vias are possible, to verify your designs and to evaluate the costs of the different possible combinations. The result? Your board goes into production quicker, you eliminate design re-spins due to manufacturability issues and you get the most cost-effective combination of price and technology.

More information on  Board buildup and Layer editor

Blind and buried vias

Posted by Patrick Martin
Patrick Martin
Patrick retired as responsible for Eurocircuits sales in the UK and Ireland (an
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 24 November 2013
in Technology

Blind and buried vias

Blind and buried vias are used to connect between layers of a PCB where space is at a premium.  A blind via connects an outer layer to one or more inner layers but does not go through the entire board.  A buried via connects two or more inner layers but does not go through to an outer layer.

BUT:

  1. Not all combinations are possible.  This is explained in this blog.
  2. Blind and buried vias add considerably to the cost of a PCB.  They should only be used when absolutely necessary.  To help designers of tight boards, we offer via holes down to 0.15 mm in our pooling services and down to 0.10 mm as a non-poolable option.  These need minimum outer layer pad sizes of 0.45 mm and 0.40 mm respectively.

Use the “smart menu” Buildup wizard to check what blind and buried via options can be produced for your design and to work out their cost.  Choose from over 700 pre-set multilayer builds, accessed by number of layers, board thickness, build and copper weight.  Then add your blind and/or buried via requirements.  If you can use a pre-set build you get your offer faster, the boards are easier to build and so the price is lower.

How a multilayer PCB is built.

Every multilayer build-up is constructed out of cores, pre-pregs and copper foils.

You can think of a core as a double-sided PCB. It is a rigid piece of base laminate with copper pre-bonded onto each side. If you go to the pre-defined build-ups for a 4 layer, you will see that the standard build has a core in the centre containing the copper tracking/planes for layers 2 (= inner layer 1) & 3 (= inner layer 2).

 

On each side there are one or more sheets of pre-preg and then a sheet of copper foil.  Pre-preg is glass-fibre cloth pre-(im)preg(nated) with uncured resin. The sheets of pre-preg and foil are bonded onto the core using heat and pressure. This cures the resin in the pre-preg as well as bonding the whole build. The resulting "sandwich" is then drilled and plated like a 2-sided board. For more information on the process see our movies on pcb production

How blind and buried vias are made.

We do not use depth-controlled laser drilling to manufacture blind and buried vias.  We first drill one or more cores and plate through the holes.  Then we build and press the stack. This process can be repeated several times.

This means:

1. A via always has to cut through an even number of copper layers.

2. A via cannot end at the top side of a core

3. A via cannot start at the bottom side of a core

4. Blind or buried vias cannot start or end inside or at the end of another blind/buried via unless the one is completely enclosed within the other (this will add extra cost as an extra press cycle is required).

These rules are incorporated into the Buildup wizard.

So on a standard 4-layer build, we can only drill buried vias between layers 2 & 3. If we do this, blind vias become impossible.

For blind vias you need to select a reversed build.  Here instead of a single core at the centre between layers 2 & 3, there are two cores on the outside of the board between layers 1 & 2 and 3 & 4. Now we can drill blind vias between 1 & 2 and 3 & 4.  Buried vias are no longer possible as the dielectric between 2 & 3 is pre-preg which cannot be separately drilled.

Higher layer counts work in the same way, but now it is possible to combine blind and buried vias.

Blind and buried vias can be overlapped provided that one is completely enclosed within the other (but note the extra press cycle).

A special build follows the same procedures but with different thicknesses at higher prices.

Asymmetrical builds are not possible. The build must be the same on either side of the centre. The main reason is to avoid bow and twist after pressing of the PCB.

Click here for more information

UK Sales Manager – PCBs

Posted by Dirk Stans
Dirk Stans
Managing partner marketing and sales of Eurocircuits
User is currently offline
on Monday, 07 October 2013
in Meet Eurocircuits

Eurocircuits are looking for a UK-based Sales Manager to handle sales and technical support in the UK, with some additional input into other European countries. The position has become vacant due to retirement.

The primary responsibility of the role is to grow turnover in the UK to a level justifying our own UK sales company. You will achieve this by active prospecting, exploiting our extensive contact database and working with existing customers. As we specialise in prototype and small batch PCBs, electronics designers are our target market.  Here providing good technical support is one of the keys to attracting and retaining new customers.

The job’s secondary responsibility is to be part of the team providing online technical support for customers in other European countries where we don’t have our own sales subsidiaries.

As UK Sales Manager you will work from home, supported by colleagues (all English-speaking) from our head office in Mechelen, Belgium, and by our comprehensive online sales administration system.

You should be able to demonstrate some years of successful technical sales to electronics design engineers. You should also have a sound working knowledge of PCB fabrication. The role demands a self-motivated self-starting manager, able to work effectively remote from the central office. Overseas travel will not normally be required other than for sales meetings or trade shows.

Salary is negotiable depending on experience.

Eurocircuits are one of Europe’s largest specialist manufacturers of prototype and small batch PCBs.  Our head-quarters are in the historic town of Mechelen in Belgium. We have factories in Germany, Hungary and India, sales subsidiaries in Germany, France, Switzerland and USA and local sales in the UK and Italy. Over the last 13 years we have developed a lean online business model based on order-pooling. This allows us to deliver small batches of PCBs across a wide range of technologies, fast, reliably, at low cost to our customers, and profitably to ourselves – profits which have financed a substantial program of re-investment over the last 3 – 4 years. In the first 9 months of this year we have already shipped more than 53,000 PCBs orders to over 7000 different customers across Europe.

To apply, please send your CV and the names of two referees to Dirk Stans, Sales Director, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Referees will not be contacted without your permission. Or email Dirk for more information.  Interviews will be held in the UK end of October and November.

BINDI pool - Eurocircuits' Asian alternative - spot on for you!

Posted by Dirk Stans
Dirk Stans
Managing partner marketing and sales of Eurocircuits
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 06 November 2013
in Eurocircuits strategy and history

“BINDI pool” – Eurocircuits' Asian alternative with European assured quality

Do you need medium-volume 2-layer PCBs - up to 12 sq.m (roughly 1600 circuits 100 x 80 mm)?

Do you need Asian prices with European assured quality and delivery, plus European shipping rates and no customs delays?

If so, you need Eurocircuits' new BINDI pool.

We are already well known for our online prototype and small batch PCBs. Our users trust us to deliver top quality boards on the right day, at the right price, reliably and consistently. To maintain this level of trust we only sell what we make ourselves in our own factories in Germany and Hungary.

BINDI pool is no different.

Many of our users need larger quantities of boards. They insist on the same reliable quality and delivery, the same ease of online ordering and at lower cost. But combining larger and smaller volumes in the same plant doesn't work.

BINDI pool is the answer.

We've had our own front-end engineering operation in India since 2000. Now we have set up a manufacturing plant, Eurocircuits India, right next door.

BINDI pool offers.

  • Up to 12 sq. m of 2-layer boards (1600 half-Eurocards)
  • Made in India, using the same materials as in our factory in Hungary.
  • Final inspection of the boards in our factories in Europe
  • Shipped at EU rates to your door.

BINDI pool - same service, same quality, lower cost.

In detail, BINDI pool offers:

  • 1 or 2-layer plated through hole PCBs
  • Delivery: 15 or 20 working days
  • Minimum track width and isolation distance: 0.150 mm
  • Minimum hole size: 0.25 mm
  • Surface finish: lead-free HAL
  • Material thickness: 1.00 mm, 1.55 mm, 2.4 mm
  • Copper thickness (foil before plating): 18 microns (half-ounce); 35 microns (1 ounce)
  • Delivery panel separation: break-routing or V-cut
  • Solder-mask (top, bottom, both, none): green, black
  • Legend (top, bottom, both, none): white
  • Max. board size: 550 x 425 mm
  • Min. board size: 5 x 5 mm
  • Slots and cut-outs: 2.00 mm, 1.2 mm
  • Bare board tested: yes
  • Advanced options: Peelable mask; top, bottom - Customer specific markings - Customer specific tolerances - Copper to board edge
  • Stencil: unframed 130 micron stainless steel: eC-compatible or custom

To access BINDI pool go to BINDI pool in the price calculator

Explore the BINDI pool service definition here

 

BINDI is the Hindi word for the bright red spot decoration applied in the centre of the forehead close to the eyebrows, symbolizing the third eye. We hope our BINDI pool service is spot on for you!

WOTS2014 - Eurocircuits trekt mee aan de kar !

Posted by Dirk Stans
Dirk Stans
Managing partner marketing and sales of Eurocircuits
User is currently offline
on Monday, 21 October 2013
in Meet Eurocircuits

WOTS2014 - Eurocircuits trekt mee aan de kar !

Eurocircuits is een actief lid binnen het FHI, de federatie van technologie branches in Nederland en is sinds dit jaar ook bestuurslid van de FHI branche Industriële Elektronica. Al vele jaren maken we deel uit van de beurscommissies voor de beurzen Electronics & Automation en HET Instrument.

Deze laatste beurs zal niet meer plaats vinden onder die naam. Het FHI, federatie van technologiebranches, en het FEDA, federatie aandrijven en automatiseren, hebben de handen in elkaar geslagen en brengen in 2014 hun branches: FHI-laboratorium, FHI-automation, FHI-industriële-elektronica en FEDA-motion-en-drives samen in 1 beurs onder de naam World Of Technology en Science of kort WOTS.

Elk van deze branches treedt tevens op onder zijn eigen logo en heeft zijn eigen plek op de beursvloer. Vanuit het verleden is echter bekend dat de verschillende branches veel synergiën met elkaar vertonen en zo samen een succesvolle beurs met elkaar kunnen organiseren. De toevoeging van de branche Motion & Drives van FEDA zal dit effect alleen maar versterken.

De beurs vindt plaats van 30 september 2014 tem 3 oktober 2014 in de Jaarbeurs te Utrecht, NL.

Exposanten kunnen zich nu inschrijven.

Eurocircuits trekt mee aan de kar om de Belgische bedrijven te motiveren van dit forum, WOTS, gebruik te maken om zich aan de Benelux markt te tonen.

Samen met het FHI organiseren we 10 december aanstaande een informatiemiddag in Kasteel Tivoli, Antwerpsesteenweg 92 - 2800 Mechelen - België.

Het programma voor 10 december 2013:

12.30 uur - Ontvangst met lunch

13.45 uur - Opening en welkom - Dirk Stans, Eurocircuits

14.00 uur - Introductie World of Technology & Science: beursconcept en bezoekersdoelgroepen

14.30 uur - Interactie & beursbeleving; beursvloerprojecten en seminars - Paul Petersen, FHI, federatie van technologieranches

15.00 uur - Koffiepauze

15.15 uur - Toegevoegde waarde van World of Technology & Science voor Vlaamse markt - Delen van ervaringen door Vlaamse deelnemers

16.00 uur - World of Technology & Science praktisch: locatie, clusterindeling, inschrijven - Linda Bos-Dekker, FHI, federatie van technologiebranches

16.30 uur - Borrel

Inschrijven voor deze namiddag kan u doen bij Linda Bos, manager communicatie en beurzen van het FHI, via +31 33 465 75 07 of This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Samen met het FHI hopen wij u van harte te mogen ontvangen.

Wij kunnen het allen zeer aanraden zich als bedrijf op de beurs WOTS als ook op de E&A beurs te presenteren. Zo ben je elk jaar in beeld in de Benelux!

www.wots.be - www.wots.nl

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