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Optimum PCB Design Flow

Posted by Dirk Stans
Dirk Stans
Managing partner marketing and sales of Eurocircuits
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 24 June 2014
in PCB Visualizer

How to achieve an ideal PCB Design flow by using the Eurocircuits smart menus ?

Helping our electronics design customers to define the best PCB layout flow possible and thus save time, avoid communication problems and achieve the best price and reliability for their PCB, is our goal. To achieve this goal, we have created smart menus and PCB visualization tools.

Our BLOG contains an online presentation and a movie.

Smart menus.

The Eurocircuits price calculator is based upon the technology of our PCB Configurator software - part of the PCB Visualization tools on our website. You can use the calculator with or without data. Even without attaching data, you will have the complete Eurocircuits service at your finger tips including all technical validation rules that apply when choosing different technical options for your board.

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

  • Build-up wizard: including more than 700 pre-defined build-ups including blind and buried via combinations.
  • Panel editor: contains full CAM editing functionality to define a professional customer delivery panel
  • Technical validation: around 300 rules are built into the smart menus to help you to choose only those combinations of options that are viable. All violations are explained and possible corrections proposed. If these are not clear or or do not meet your requirements, you can always get help from our engineers by using the  "launch inquiry" option.
  • Classification wizard: our classification guide shows you the pattern and drill classes available for your 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.  If the board is not poolable then the price will be calculated on the basis of production panels containing only this board. Prices calculations always include a matrix showing alternatives based upon other more favourable quantities and delivery terms. You can also define your own price matrix to show your own preferred alternative quantities and deliveries.

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 section of your account. Our PCB Visualizer software will then start analysing your data. A few minutes later you will be able to view your board on screen and see the results of the analysis. What can you discover?

  • PCB Configurator: you can view the board and the analysis based upon the order details entered into the price calculator.  If you use the alternative pricing option "Analyse my data", PCB Visualizer will fill out the board parameters in the calculator menu and present its analysis based on our default values.  In either case, go through the order details, viewing all the comments and any possible design rule check (DRC) violations. You can then correct the data to fit the order details, or change the order details to fit the data. Other CAM data preparation functions available include:
    • Panel editor: design standard or complex customer panels interactively on screen.
    • Marking editor: add QR-code, UL-logo, text, date codes, etc... if and where you want them
  • PCB Checker: shows the results of the DRC analysis of your data against the order details. You can view all potential errors one by one and decide what to do in each case. PCB Checker also contains DFM functions including plating index, solder paste surface area, possible fiducials in a design, ....

Presentation "Your optimum PCB design flow"

Our presentation takes a tour through all Eurocircuits' smart menus and PCB Visualization tools and shows how they can help you gain time, avoid misunderstandings and save costs by defining an ideal PCB design flow.

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.

 

MOVIE: How to use our smart menus and PCB Visualizer

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This film gives an overview of how to use our smart menus efficiently to determine your PCB layout parameters and how to then use PCB Visualizer to check your layout against your pre-set design values.

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

Copper and the board edge

Posted by Dirk Stans
Dirk Stans
Managing partner marketing and sales of Eurocircuits
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 19 June 2014
in PCB Design

There are three options under our Advanced options heading which may be confusing:

  1. Copper up to board edge
  2. PTH on the board edge
  3. Round-edge plating.

Here’s how to sort them out.

Copper up to board edge.

To avoid damage to the copper during the profiling operation we normally ask for a minimum distance between the copper features and the edge of the PCB.  This distance is:

  • 0.25 mm on outer layers with breakrouting
  • 0.40 mm on inner layers with breakrouting
  • 0.45 mm on all layers with V-cut scoring.

These figures are needed to accommodate industry-standard manufacturing and machining tolerances.  For V-cut scoring it is also necessary to accommodate the V of the cutter.

Sometimes it is necessary to run a copper plane up to the board edge.  In this case select “Copper to board edge”.  There is no extra charge for this but it alerts our engineers to set up a different cutter speed.

“Copper to board edge” should normally only be used for planes and large copper areas where any slight damage to the copper will not impact on the performance of the PCB.

Tracks must not be placed within the minimum distance of the board edge where they could be damaged.  Our engineers will raise an exception whenever they find tracks within the exclusion zone.

If we find pads within the minimum distance of the board edge, we will clip them back to restore the minimum copper-free space unless:

  • the pads are part of an edge connector (usually with a bevelled edge)
  • the pads are marked as "up to the board edge" in a separate mechanical layer
  • the clipping is more than 25% of the pad surface in which case we will send an exception to the customer.

NOTE.

Copper to board edge cannot be combined with V-cut scoring.

TIP.

We will always cut inner layer planes back by 0.40 mm to avoid any risk of shorting.

PTH on board edge.

Also called “castellated holes”.

These are plated holes cut through on the board edge and used to join two PCBs either by direct soldering or via a connector.  As the process requires extra steps, plated holes on the board edge are a cost-option.

Your data should clearly show the holes and the profile.  Ideally include the information in a mechanical layer.

TIPS.

  1. There must be enough spare space on the edge of the PCB for us to hold the PCB in the production panel during manufacture.  If you need castellated holes on all 4 sides, email us your design or proposed profile as early in the design process as possible.  We can then confirm that it is manufacturable or suggest any necessary changes.
  2. You must have pads on top and bottom layer (and on inner layers where possible) to anchor the plating securely to the PCB.
  3. As a general rule the holes should be as large as possible to ensure good soldering to the mother PCB.  We recommends 0.80 mm and above.
  4. All surface finishes are possible but our preference is for selective gold over nickel for the smaller sizes.

Round edge plating.

This means that most or part of the edge of a PCB or a cut-out is plated from the top side to the bottom side.

This may be to ensure a good ground to a metal casing or for shielding purposes.

To manufacture a board with round-edge plating we rout the board profile where the edge plating is required before the through-hole plating process.  This involves extra process steps so round-edge plating is a cost option.

TIPS.

  1. There needs to be a band of copper on each side for the plating to connect to.
  2. As we need to hold the circuit within the production panel during processing we cannot plate round 100% of the edge.  There must be some gaps so that we can place rout tabs.  If you need a very high percentage of edge-plating, email us your design or proposed profile as early in the design process as possible.  We can then confirm that it is manufacturable or suggest any necessary changes.
  3. Indicate clearly in a mechanical layer where you need round-edge plating.
  4. Selective chemical nickel-gold is the only surface finish suitable for round-edge plating.
Tags: pcb design

Marking editor

Posted by Dirk Stans
Dirk Stans
Managing partner marketing and sales of Eurocircuits
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 07 May 2014
in PCB Visualizer

Adding custom markings - yet another PCB Visualizer function

Do you need special text or a QR code on your PCB?  Or is it important that order numbers and UL marking are in a particular location?  We have harnessed the power of PCB Visualizer to bring you on-screen interactive functionality to meet these requirements.

Watch our movie at the end of this BLOG.

Marking summary.

Internal job number

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

UL

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

Other custom markings

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

How to use the new function

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

  2. Scroll down the PCB Configurator menu to Advanced options.



    To add markings, make sure that the options you require have been ticked: “UL marking” or customer “Specific marking", both at no extra cost.
    If you want to check or edit the placing of the order number and/or want to edit your customer specific markings, click the “Marking” box.

  3. The Marking screen shows a bird's eyes view of both sides of the PCB and one detailed view of either Top or Bottom, any markings already made, a legend overview of where they are and the tool options.

Tools:

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

The function "add an extra order number" makes it possible to add a second Eurocircuits order number on the PCB should you wish to do so. This function can also be used in case our automatic data analyses tool was not able to place an order number automatically on your PCB. This can be because the layout and legend of the board are too dense or the shape is too complex. You can then add an order number yourself.
To place the order number, push the icon and move your cursor to the desired location on the board and click to add it. You can then still drag it to any position on the board either on the top or bottom. Moving it from the top to the bottom is easy by just moving it to the bird's eye view of the bottom. This will place it there and will open the details view of the bottom at the same time. Further fine tuning of its position can then be done. You can also change the rotation.

Tips:

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

UL marking

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

Tips:

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



  2. At this stage there are no automatic check to prevent that the logo does not short any tracks or pads on a copper layer. Any introduced problem at this stage will be picked up by our data preparation engineers at the moment of order and will result into an exception that will be reported back to you.

Customer specific markings

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

Add QR code:

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

Tips:

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



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

Add text:

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

Tips:

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



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

Add production date:

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

Tips:

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



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

Marking legend

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

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

How to save the new data

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

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

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

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

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

Standard Gerber declared obsolete

Posted by Dirk Stans
Dirk Stans
Managing partner marketing and sales of Eurocircuits
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 17 June 2014
in PCB Design

Can standard Gerber still be used to order PCBs?

As you can read from Ucamco's announcement, Standard Gerber (RS-274D) is declared obsolete as input format for their Computer Aided Manufacturing tools for PCB production.

Eurocircuits has for a long time promoted the use of Extended Gerber (RS-274X) for communicating PCB designs as described in our BLOGs:

It's safer, faster and fully compatible with our PCB Visualizer tools.  PCB Visualizer cannot process Standard Gerber files as they are incomplete, lacking the built-in shape definition tables etc...

We therefore support Ucamco's decision to declare the Standard Gerber (RS-274D) format obsolete.

=> Yes, you still can use Standard Gerber (RS-274D) but we STRONGLY recommend you to use Extended Gerber (RS-274X) instead.

If you have any questions on outputting Extended Gerber, please contact us via our Chat service or email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  If you need boards made from old files which are only available in Standard Gerber, please contact us on a case by case basis.

We recommend you to also read Ucamco's announcement in this BLOG.

Open Letter to the Gerber User Community

Please use Extended Gerber for all your operations.
Standard Gerber is technically obsolete.  If you are still using it, you are putting your business and that of your clients and business partners at a useless risk, without benefit.

As the developer and custodian of the Gerber format, Ucamco hereby wishes to communicate the following important information about Standard Gerber.

Standard Gerber is now technologically obsolete.

  • Despite its name, Standard Gerber is not a defined standard for PCB data transfer:  Units and aperture definitions, rather than being governed by a recognisable standard, are in an informal document, the interpretation of which is unavoidably subjective. As a result, Standard Gerber files cannot be machine-read in a standardized, reliable way.
  • Standard Gerber requires aperture painting and copper pours, both of which create manual work in CAM, adding cost, delay and risk to the PCB manufacturing process.
  • Standard Gerber does not support attributes.

Extended Gerber files ARE machine readable, they do not require painting, and they do support attributes. Virtually all software read Extended Gerber and many new implementations no longer support Standard Gerber. There is not a single good reason left to use Standard Gerber. Using of Standard rather than Extended Gerber is a self-inflicted competitive disadvantage.

Extended Gerber fully supersedes Standard Gerber. Extended Gerber is the current Gerber format. Standard Gerber files therefore do not comply with the Gerber specification.

Ucamco's position regarding the Gerber format is therefore as follows:  Any party that chooses Standard rather than fully standardized Extended Gerber is responsible for any issues that might arise as a result of its use.

Thank you.

Karel Tavernier
Managing Director
Ucamco

Read the full article - with detailed motivation - in pdf format

Tags: pcb design

Slots and cut-outs

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, 16 June 2014
in PCB Design

Milling, slots and cut-outs – hints and tips.

One of the most frequent questions we get asked via our support services is “how to I define slots in my PCB?”.  Slots and cut-outs also generate many exceptions, which may lead to delivery delays.  Some exceptions occur because the definition of the slots is not clear; others because slots and cut-outs are in the data but not in the order.

Terminology

“Routing” describes the cutting of the board profile, outline or contour.  We use a 2 mm cutter for this.  Any feature which can be cut with the 2 mm cutter is part of the profile.

“Milling” refers to any slots or cut-outs inside the PCB, but also to any slots in the profile of the PCB which can’t be cut with a 2 mm cutter.

How do I define my slots?

Gerber mechanical layer.

The safest and clearest way is in a Gerber mechanical layer which shows the slots/cut-outs and the profile of the PCB. Two possible ways forward:

  1. Use draws and/or flashes with the correct end size of the slot/cut-out
  2. Draw the slots/cut-outs with a 0.50 mm line.  It has the advantage that at the same time the line helps you to visually check the clearance of any copper to the board edge. Our engineers will take the centre of the line as the edge of the slot.

Combine your definition of the slots/cut-outs with the PCB contour (outline) into one Gerber file. This layer should line up with the copper layers, but to be as safe as possible make sure that the copper layers also include the PCB outline.

Different systems have different names for the mechanical layer (for instance in EAGLE it is layer Milling - layer 46).  Provided that you have included milling in your order (see below) our engineers will find the right file.

If there is no mechanical layer, you may have to adapt another layer.  If there could be any doubt which is the right file, point to it in a README file.

Avoid defining slots only in a copper layer or in a legend layer, as they are then very easy to overlook or misunderstand.  You can indicate large cut-outs in a copper or legend layer, but make sure that there is a clear outline, and put text CUTOUT in the middle.

Drill file.

Some CAD systems allow you to define slots in the drill file.  This is also safe and clear.  But they must be defined as slots with an X & Y dimension, not as a row of overlapping holes.

Plated/non-plated.

We take slots with copper on top and bottom to be plated.  Give the dimension of the finished slot size.  We will make the necessary adjustments for the plating.

Slots with no copper on top and/or bottom layer are non-plated.  If you need non-plated slots through copper pads, indicate this clearly in the mechanical layer or in a separate drill file.

Example:

This pictures shows the customer data:

  • an outline file containing some cut-outs (contour file, drawn with a 0.50mm line) - yellow
  • a drill file containing all drill holes and large round cut-outs defined as flashed hole - blue
  • a routing layer containing all slots defined as tracks with the correct slot sizes - red

The result shown on the final board. Note also the difference between the plated slot and the non-plated cut-out.

How do I order my slots?

In the Price calculator menu go to the section headed PCB definition and then to the Milling box.  There is a choice of 3 cutters: 2 mm, 1.2 mm and 0.50 mm.  Select the one which is the same size as, or smaller than, your smallest slot size.  Note that you cannot use a 0.5 mm cutter on board thicknesses greater than 2.00 mm.

If your board has slots or cut-outs, make sure that you fill in the Milling box.  It alerts our engineers that your board need milling.

1.2 mm and 0.5 mm cutters are cost-options.  If they have not been selected, we will need to increase the price of the PCB so our engineers will raise an exception.  There is no charge for the 2.00 mm cutter as it will cut the slots at the same time as it cuts the profile – but still complete the box so that we know that you need slots or cut-outs.

How do I check my slots?

PCB Visualizer is an automatic Gerber pre-production analyser.  Gerber is a pure vector format with, at present, no built-in attributes.  So PCB Visualizer cannot always detect structures like slots and cut-outs. What is possible at the moment:

  1. Your slots/cut-outs are defined using flashes and/or draws, placed in a separate mechanical layer and this layer lines up perfectly with all other layers => PCB Visualizer has no troubles recognizing all slots/cut-outs and displays them correctly.
  2. Your slots/cut-outs are drawn with a line (0.50mm). PCB Visualizer will display the line but the material inside the line will not be removed from the image. Our engineers will find and define them when they prepare the tooling for the PCB. Once this is done, you can view the prepared data in PCB Visualizer as the “Production data” rather than the “Customer data”.

If you want to check that the slots and cut-outs are correct before the board goes into production, set up pre-production approval by clicking the "Request pre-production approval box" under Running orders.  The job will then be halted after tool data preparation for you to check.

If you have any questions, contact our Live Chat support.

Tags: pcb design

Panel editor

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, 26 May 2014
in PCB Visualizer

Panel editor - the next level of efficiency in PCB Visualizer

“I want my boards delivered as a panel, but I need to see what it looks like before I place my order”

“I want to make sure that I have got the maximum number of circuits on my assembly panel”

“My assembly people need fiducials and tooling-holes in exactly the right place.  I haven’t got time to make a drawing, but they want to check the panel’s OK for them before I order.”

Eurocircuits have always had options to deliver a customer’s circuits in a panel (see our Panel Guidelines), but there has never been an opportunity to see the panel before placing the order, to experiment to find the best circuit “fill”, or to order a special layout without providing a drawing.  The new PCB Visualizer tool, Panel Editor, changes that.  Now you can view the Eurocircuits panelisation you have specified before you place your order.  Or, if you need a special panelisation, you can create your own panel directly on-screen.  Place your order confident that what you have seen or what you have laid out is what you will get as your finished panel – and there will be no delays while our engineers query your requirements.

How do I …..?

  1. Use PCB Visualizer Panel Editor to get a fast price without uploading data?
  2. View or modify my eC-panel by Eurocircuits?
  3. Make a custom panel?
  4. Set up/change panel and board properties?
  5. Change the step and repeat values?
  6. “Fill” a panel?
  7. Define special panel settings (stepped blocks, rotated circuits/blocks, custom blocks e.g. “nested” for L- and T-shaped circuits?)
  8. Add my own border features (tooling holes, fiducials, text etc.)?
  9. Specify panels with several different circuits (multipanels)?
  10. Get confirmation I did it all right, even if I did it for the first time? Use our pre-production approval process.

Our BLOG explains it all and contains 2 movies to illustrate the processes.

See separate sections for each topic.  If you have any questions, use our online chat line to talk to one of our engineers.

1. Use PCB Visualizer Panel Editor to get a fast price without uploading data?

Most Panel Editor options can be used before you upload your data.  For this, PCB Visualizer  uses dummy PCBs.

There are three panel options.  To select one, go to the Delivery format box at the top of the screen.  For more details of each, see our Panel Guidelines.  Selecting eC-panel by Eurocircuits or Custom panel by Eurocircuits automatically opens the Panel menu.

eC-panel by Eurocircuits

Specify the repeats you want in X and Y.  Select the panel border, and the PCB spacing from the pull-down boxes.  All eC-panels are eC-registration compatible.  This means that they have the necessary tooling holes in the border if you want to use a solder-paste stencil with our eC-stencil-mate or eC-stencil-fix.  As they also have our standard pattern tooling holes and fiducials in the corners (see Panel Guidelines p. 6), they are 100% suitable for use with other registration systems.

Click Panel editor to see the panel with the dummy PCBs.  For the full range of options, see below.

Customer panel by Eurocircuits

Click the Panel editor wizard and proceed as below to specify the step and repeat, border and separation distance required.  Ignore the red warning message about the 0,0 panel size – this will be changed by the Panel editor.  PCB Visualizer will display the default board size, so for an accurate price enter the correct circuit size, make any other size changes required and click Apply.

TIP: Don’t put in the border elements at this stage as they will be lost when you upload the real board data.

Customer panel by customer.

Use this panel option if you have already prepared Gerber files with the complete panelisation for a special layout or for a multi-panel (panel with several different designs).  Your layout should meet our panelisation requirements for panel border and distance between the circuits.  This option won’t open Panel Editor as the files will display correctly in PCB Visualizer.

TIP: All delivery panels require a border to hold them together during transport and handling.  If you have not included a border or want to put additional features into the border, select Custom panel by Eurocircuits and specify a 1-up panel using the Panel editor wizard.

2. View or modify eC-panel by Eurocircuits

Step 1.  Load the job into PCB Visualizer.

Use the “Price Calculator” option to get a price and then upload your data.  Or choose the “Analyse your data” route, so that PCB Configurator fills out the board parameters for you.  Go to Shopping basket and click the PCB Visualizer column for the job you want.

Step 2.  View eC-panel by Eurocircuits.

If you have already specified the step and repeat, border size, PCB separation method and distance, click the Panel editor wizard to see the panelised circuit.

NOTE:

The router path is shown as a hatched area.  Our engineers will place rout tabs in this area to ensure a stable panel.

TIP: If there are areas in which you do not want rout tabs to appear due to sensitive components etc., specify them in a mechanical drawing.

You can now change:

  • Repeat in X and/or Y
  • PCB separation method
  • Panel border
  • PCB spacing

For any other changes, click “Advanced panel options”.

Click “Apply” at the bottom of the screen and the price in PCB Configurator will automatically update to the new configuration.  Click the orange “Save changes” box to update the basket.

In the next menu just click Continue.  There is no need to re-upload the job.

MOVIE: create and view an eC-panel with panel editor

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This film gives an overview of how to make an eC-panel with our new panel  editor module, part of our PCB Visualizer software.

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

3.  Lay out a custom panel by Eurocircuits.

TIPS:

  1. For hints and tips on designing stable panels including panelising round circuits and handling overhanging and heavy components, click here.
  2. If you are using an external assembly company and they supply a detailed dimensioned drawing of their requirements, you may find it easier to use the Launch inquiry route to get a price.  Upload your single circuit data, the drawing and your step and repeat instructions (as a README file) and our engineers will lay out the panel and give you a price.  This may take up to 1 working day.

PROCESS

Step 1.  Load the job into PCB Visualizer as Section 2 step 1 above.

Click the Panel editor wizard.  Ignore the red warning about the 0,0 panel size – the Panel editor will complete the correct size.

Step 2.  Select your panel border and enter your preferred value:

Step 3. Set up the circuit separation method and spacing:

Step 4. Choose the panel content type.

Select:

  1. Stepped PCB if you want to build your PCB out of single circuits.
  2. Stepped block if you want to build your panel out of a custom block of two or more interlocked or “nested” circuits, typically L- or T-shaped.  For this option, see below.

Step 4. Select “Stepped PCB”. And click “Next >”.

Step 5. Set up the basic step and repeat, and the rotation if required.  Additional options will be available in the editor.

Step 6. PCB Visualizer now shows the board together with top and bottom birds-eye view, the Panel and board properties menu and the panel tools menu.

  1. Swap top and bottom views by clicking on the bird’s eye menu, or using the tool menu icon.
  2. Pan and zoom with your mouse or use the pull-down zoom menu.

Click the orange “Apply” button to accept the panelisation and go back to the PCB Configurator menu.

4. Change panel and board properties.

Use this menu to change:

  • Panel size.
  • Panel border
  • Board separation method
  • Board separation distance

Or to add eC-compatible registration holes if you want to use a solder-paste stencil with our eC-stencil-mate or eC-stencil-fix.

TIP: If the board size is incorrect, PCB Visualizer will show a dummy panel.  Correct the size in the menu (“Board size”).

5. Change the step and repeat of the job

Click within the existing stepped circuits to select the block.  This opens the “Stepped PCB properties” menu.  You can now change the repeat and the rotation of the PCB.  Use to action

6. To “fill” a panel

  • Un-tick the Automatic X and Automatic Y boxes in the “Panel and board properties” menu.
  • Select the panel size you require (e.g. the Eurocircuits recommended maximum panel 350 X 250 mm, or your assembly company’s maximum size e.g. 300 x 200 mm)
  • Use the “Step/repeat block properties” menu to change the step and repeat and rotation to find the best fit
  • Re-click the Automatic boxes to get the final panel size.

7. Define special panel settings.

  • Stepped PCB
  • Stepped Block
  • Block (Custom block of nested PCBs: L-shapes, T-shapes, etc...)

These allow you to customise your panel layout.

Tools


TIPS:

  1. To deselect a tool, double-click the Select button or pick the next tool.
  2. To select a border element that is below another border element, you need to click with the right mouse button to first highlight it (orange border), then you can click with the left mouse button to select it.
  3. Use “Reset the panel definition” to
    • restart the Panel wizard – select “Create new panel definition”
    • clear everything and go back to the PCB Configurator menu – select “Clear panel definition”

7.1.  Add stepped PCB pattern

TIP: Use this function to step and repeat PCB blocks or to add rotated PCBs.

  1. Click the tool “Add stepped PCBs”.
  2. Select the orange location box where you want to repeat the same circuit pattern.



  3. This opens the “Stepped PCB properties” menu.  Enter the repeat values you require and click the location boxes as required.



    TIP: By default PCB Visualizer will retain the last repeat values used.  If these are incorrect, simply change them and the screen image will correct automatically.
    .
  4. Add spacers as required to control the distance between the blocks. Click “Select the object to edit” to clear the location boxes and show the true distances.

    TIP:
    The spacers change the distance between the blocks of circuits, not the individual circuits.  Change the distance between circuits in the “Panel and board properties” menu.

7.2.  Rotated blocks:

There are two ways to panelise with rotated and non-rotated circuits depending on your requirements.  To build a panel with rotated circuit patterns, follow the procedures here.  To put rotated and non-rotated in a set, see below.

  1. Click the tool “Add stepped PCBs”.
  2. Select the orange location box where you want to add the rotated pattern
  3. Enter the required repeat and rotation values



  4. Add a spacer to control the exact distance between the blocks.

7.3.  Panelise with stepped blocks (“nested” PCBs).

Use this function to interlock (“nest”) L-shaped or T-shaped PCBs.

  1. Open the Panel editor
  2. Select the border required
  3. Set your preferred PCB spacing and separation
  4. Set the Panel content type to “Stepped Blocks”
  5. Click “Next>” to open the “Edit block definition” box.  Click “Edit block”.



  6. This opens the editing screen.



  7. The offset will normally remain at X = 0, Y = 0 for the first circuit.  For the demo job, change the rotation to 180°.



  8. To add a second circuit, click “Add a PCB”.  To avoid a second circuit being placed directly over the first circuit, it is given a notional offset, roughly 20% of its X & Y dimensions.



  9. Add the desired offsets for the finished set. Click Apply to return to the wizard.



  10. Click “Next>” to move to the “Define step values menu”.  Enter your preferred repeat and click “Finish”.




7.4.  Add a spacer.

Use this function to increase the width of a single border or the space between blocks of circuits.

  1. Select “Add a spacer” tool.
  2. Click on the orange locator box where you want to insert the space
  3. Enter your chosen spacer value.



  4. Click on “Select the object to edit” or “Apply” to show the new image.

TIP: Tick the Automatic box if you have a fixed panel size which the circuits do not fill exactly and you want to maintain e.g. the relationship between the circuits and the panel edge.  The automatic spacer will push the circuits into the required position.

8.  Define customer specific border elements.

TIPS:

  1. To see how these different options work together, see the illustration of an eC-panel above or the finished panel at the end of this section.
  2. All border elements are dimensioned from 8 reference points.  These are placed in the middle of the laminate border in the 4 corners and on the centre line of the panel.  For each tool click the tool, select the (first) reference point, and the tool menu will open.
  3. Border elements (except drill holes) can be placed on copper, soldermask or legend layers, and on top, bottom or both sides.


8.1 Add a drill hole border element.

  1. Select the “Drill hole border element” tool and the reference point.
  2. Enter the drill hole diameter plus the copper, soldermask and legend clearances and any offset required.



  3. Click to insert the hole.  Select the next reference point – the values entered will carry over.


8.2 Add a frame border element.


Specify the width, the side and the layer required (copper, soldermask and/or legend). Unless an offset is specified this will appear in the centre of each border.


8.3. Add a clearance border element.


Tooling holes, fiducials and text come with automatic clearances to your chosen values.  Use the clearance function if you need to clear copper, soldermask or legend for any reason.  The cut-off allows the corner to be rounded.

8.4. Add copper pad.


For example as a fiducial.  You can specify the pad size, the clearances from copper, soldermask and legend, and the offset from each reference point.


8.5. Add text border element.




Enter the text, dimensions, layer (copper, soldermask or legend), and the clearances required.  The cut-off value gives a curved clearance.  The soldermask and legend clearances will default to the copper values but they can be changed if you prefer.

8.6. Add hash fiducials


You can set copper, soldermask and legend clearances for hash fiducials.


8.7. Finished panel

Including eC-compatible tooling holes


MOVIE: use panel editor to create your own custom panel

Dim lights Embed Embed this video on your site

This film gives an overview of how to make a custom panel using our new panel editor module, part of our PCB Visualizer software.

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

9. Specify panels with several different circuits ("Multipanels")

PCB Visualizer has been developed as a Gerber file analyser to run Design Rule (DRC) and increasingly Design for Manufacturability (DFM) checks on single circuits.  There is at present no functionality to allow you to import and place interactively separate circuits into one delivery panel.

If you want to put several different circuits on one delivery panel, you have three options:

  1. Prepare a single Gerber file for each layer including the circuits you require in the positions where you want them in the panel.  Make sure that you provide a suitable border and distance between circuits. More …

    TIPS
    • You can use PCB Visualizer to analyse the panel as though it is a single circuit. If you need to add a border or border features, load the job as a 1 x 1 Customer panel by Eurocircuits.
    • To ensure optimum manufacturability we have rules for the maximum size and copper balance for panels with multiple different circuits.

  2. Use the Launch inquiry route.  Upload a single .zip file including separate .zip files for each circuits and an exact drawing how you want them panelised.  Our engineers will check the data files and build the panel for you.  We will send you a quotation and you will be able to see the finished panel in PCB Visualizer.
  3. Place your order and upload a single .zip file including separate .zip files for each circuits and an exact drawing how you want them panelised.  Skip PCB Visualizer.  If you want to check the panel before it goes into production click the box “Request pre-production approval” in the Running menu.

10. Pre-production approval

Not sure about the panel you have created and need reassurance before your panel goes into production? Use our pre-production approval check. More info in our BLOG.

EAGLE-V7.0

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, 22 May 2014
in PCB Design


Buy EAGLE Version 6 and upgrade to Version 7 for FREE + a PCB order discount of 30 Euro netto

CadSoft’s EAGLE software is one of the most popular CAD packages in the market today.  Whether you are an experienced PCB designer or looking for your first CAD package, EAGLE CAD is easy to learn and easy to use.  It offers powerful PCB design solutions, including Schematic Capture, Board Layout and Auto router, all at affordable prices.  Thanks to a full range of support options, switching to EAGLE is fast into use and stress-free.  Find out more.

Watch the EAGLE introductory video.

Switch to EAGLE offer.

EAGLE V7 will be released in July, but you can start getting the benefits of EAGLE right away.  Purchase EAGLE V6 before the V7 launch date and you will get V7 for FREE as soon as it is released. On top of that you can still profit from our Eurocircuits 2014 EAGLE campaign and receive in your Eurocircuits customer account a PCB order discount key of 30 Euro netto to be used with your next PCB order. Terms here.

Order EAGLE V6 from Eurocircuits here.

V7 – new features

  • Hierarchical schematic design, which allows the designer to create structured schematic drawings.  The top sheet  can contain module boxes representing parts of the schematic.
  • Improvement of the autorouter: A new router algorithm pre-routes the layout.  The result is smoother tracking with fewer angles.
  • Support for multi-core processors. This will allow EAGLE  to route simultaneously several jobs (with different settings).

Eurocircuits and EAGLE.

We have worked with CadSoft over the last 5 - 6 years to integrate EAGLE into our workflow.  EAGLE users can upload the .BRD data files directly into PCB Visualizer without the need for conversion.  Designers can download free EAGLE DRU files from our website.  These come with built-in component libraries to speed your design process, as well as design rule parameters based on our order-pooling services.  Use these parameters and you can be confident that your design has the optimum price – and will go into production without any delays caused by data issues.

EAGLE V7 upgrade offer terms and conditions, defined by CadSoft Computer GmbH.

Tags: pcb design

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

1ste prototype werkende

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


Reserveer de MEMO nu!

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

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

Meer info over de World of Electronics vindt u hier.

Tags: Exhibitions

Pre-production approval

Posted by Dirk Stans
Dirk Stans
Managing partner marketing and sales of Eurocircuits
User is currently offline
on Monday, 26 May 2014
in PCB Visualizer

Add extra comfort to your ordering process and organize your own data approval before your order moves to production.

Not sure about your artwork or how our engineers will interpret it?

Sometimes your data files may contain features that our automated PCB Visualizer process cannot recognize. Or you may be worried that your first layout is not quite right. Whatever your concern, we can give you the reassurance you need. Set up an approval step for the production-ready data for your board just before it goes into physical manufacture. As soon as our engineers have completed their checks, we will send you an email to advise you that the production files are ready and waiting for your approval. Check them using our PCB Visualizer tools, and continue the order, confident that you will get the boards you intended

This is our "Pre-production approval" process.

How does it work?

Check out an item from your "Shopping Basket" to launch your order.

The order will then appear in the "Running orders" overview screen. There you can again select it and push the "Request for pre-production approval" button.

The order now appears in your "Pre-production approval overview" screen.

Once the production files are ready, the order is placed in the upper part of the screen ready for your approval. You will be notified of this by e-mail.

The production data of your order is ready for approval. You can view to check your data with our PCB Visualizer program and view your order details.

Push Next to move to the next step.

The warning message speaks for itself. On clicking OK you come to the next screen.

If everything is correct, push "Approve & release for production" to release the order so it can proceed to the production department.

In case you find an inconsistency, push "Send your comments". A dialog window will open.

The "send your comments" dialog window identifies who you are. You can complete or change this info.

In the message field you can formulate your comments.

The "Attach a file" function allows you to support your comments with external documents or with new PCB data.

Submit and your communication will be picked up by our engineers.

The “Message sent” notification will appear.  Our engineers will contact you as soon as they have reviewed your comments.

The Evertiq Event - Stockholm - May 2014

Posted by Dirk Stans
Dirk Stans
Managing partner marketing and sales of Eurocircuits
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 21 May 2014
in Meet Eurocircuits

During TEC-Stockholm Eurocircuits showed how to achieve an ideal PCB Design flow by using its smart menus

Eurocircuits was a Main Sponsor at The Evertiq Conference 2014 in Stockholm, 13.5.2014. We exhibited and were at the conference as speaker.

Marketing cup

First we would like to thank our customers who registered to the conference mentioning they were invited by us. Eurocircuits' customers were the largest group attending the event which lead to Eurocircuits winning the marketing cup, TEC Stockholm 2014.

Thanks to you all.

Our presentation

Helping our electronics design customers to define the best PCB layout flow possible and thus save time, avoid communication problems and achieve the best price and reliability for their PCB, is our goal. To achieve this goal, we have created smart menus and PCB visualization tools.

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.
  • Panel editor: contains full CAM editing functionality to define a professional customer panel
  • 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 Configurator: You can view the board based 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. It also allows you to change the order details and bring them in accordance with the content of your data. Extra CAM functions are:
    • Panel editor: making standard or complex customer panels interactively on screen.
    • Marking editor: QR-code, UL-logo, text, date codes, etc... if and where you want them
  • PCB Checker: shows the result of the design rule check (DRC) of your data against the order details of the basket item. You can consult all possible errors individually and evaluate. It also contains some DFM function like: plating index, solder paste surface, possible fiducial in a design, ....

Presentation "PCB design flow"

Our presentation takes a tour through all Eurocircuits' smart menus and PCB Visualization tools and how they can help you gain time, avoid misunderstandings and save costs by defining an ideal PCB design flow.

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.

Tolerances on PCB

Posted by Lengyel Norbert
Lengyel Norbert
Norbert is quality manager in Eurocircuits Kft
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 24 April 2014
in PCB Design

What tolerances should I design into my PCB?

Where possible, design to PCB-industry standard mid-range tolerances.  If you use these tolerances you should be able to source your boards from any fabricator in the world without cost-penalty.  Eurocircuits use these specifications and tolerances as the basis of our lowest-cost pooling services.  Of course there may be times when component geometry or mechanical constraints mean that you need tighter tolerances.  We can usually build boards to meet these requirements but they will cost a bit more as they need special handling or additional process steps (for example for blind or buried vias).

ACTION TIP.

It’s always a good idea to check your data-set and especially any drawings to make sure that they don’t specify tighter tolerances than you need.  If they are outside our standard range, we may need to raise an exception, possibly delaying delivery and/or increasing costs.

NOTE

Minimum tracks, gaps and annular rings are defined in the specifications of each service and are not included in this table.  There is a complete list in our PCB Design Guidelines p. 7.

Tolerances tables

Specification

Tolerance

Notes

Materials

 

 

Material thickness

+/- 10%

Based on manufacturers’ specifications

Maximum bow and twist on boards with SMDs

0.75%

See http://www.eurocircuits.com/index.php/eurocircuits-printed-circuits-blog/bow-and-twist-in-printed-circuits

Maximum bow and twist on boards without SMDs

1.5%

 

Drilling

 

 

Production hole oversize – plated

0.10 mm

PCB Design Guidelines p. 8

Production hole oversize – non-plated

0.00 mm

 

Hole size tolerance – plated

+/- 0.10 mm

 

Hole size tolerance – via holes

+ 0.10/-0.30 mm

By default we take all holes  0.45 mm or less to be via holes.  If you have component holes  with finished diameter 0.45 mm 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.  The negative tolerance allows us to reduce via hole sizes to solve annular ring issues and/or to reduce board costs by reducing the number of drilling cycles needed.  More.

Hole size tolerance – non-plated

+/- 0.05 mm

 

Aspect ratio

1:8

Ratio of board thickness to production drill tool

Hole positional tolerance

0.10 mm

Hole to hole

Minimum hole to hole distance

0.25 mm

Measured from production hole to production hole.

See PCB Design Guidelines p. 9 and technical blog

http://eurocircuits.com/index.php/eurocircuits-printed-circuits-blog/the-smallest-possible-distance-between-two-holes

Minimum non-plated production hole to copper

0.25 mm

 

Hole wall copper

 

 

Minimum copper thickness

20 μm

 

Surface finish thickness

 

 

Leadfree hot-air levelling

1 – 30 μm

 

Electroless gold over nickel

Ni:3 -6 μm;

Au: 0.05 – 0.10 μm

 

Immersion silver thickness

0.2 – 0.4 μm

 

Plated hard gold over nickel

Ni: 3 – 6 μm; Au: 1- 1.5 μm

 

Soldermask

 

 

Minimum soldermask to pad clearance = Mask Annular Ring (MAR) – plated holes

0.10 mm

This depends on the copper pattern classification – see PCB Design Guidelines p.15

Minimum soldermask track cover = Mask Overlap Clearance (MOC)

0.10 mm

On tight layouts there may need to be a “trade-off” between MAR and MOC – see PCB Design Guidelines p. 16

Minimum soldermask web = Mask Segment (MSM)

0.10 mm

 

Minimum soldermask to pad clearance = Mask Annular Ring (MAR) – non-plated holes

0.125 mm

 

Maximum tented finished via size

0.25 mm

To ensure that the via hole is plugged with soldermask use ViaFill – see PCB Design Guidelines p. 16 & 20

Soldermask thickness on top of conductors

>15 μm

For more information see eC-Glossary.

Soldermask thickness on conductor edge

>7 μm

 

Legend

 

 

Minimum line width

0.17 mm

 

Minimum height for legibility

1.00 mm

 

Legend to soldermask cut-back (clipping)

0.10 mm

After clipping we also remove any bits of line smaller than 0.17 mm

Breakrouting

 

 

Minimum clearance board edge to copper tracks/pads – outer layers

0.25 mm

Copper planes can extend to the board edge.  Select “copper to board edge” in the Price Calculator

Minimum clearance board edge to copper tracks/pads – inner layers

0.40 mm

 

Minimum slot finished width

0.50 mm

 

Profile dimensional tolerance

+/- 0.20 mm

 

Positional tolerance profile/cut-out to hole

+/- 0.20 mm

 

Slot dimensional tolerance

Width: +/- 0.10 mm

Length: +/- 0.20 mm

 

Minimum copper around plated and non-plated slots

As annular ring for plated and non-plated holes

 

Scoring/V-cut

 

 

Maximum board thickness for scoring

2.00 mm

 

Minimum board thickness for scoring

0.80 mm

 

Minimum clearance board edge to copper pattern – outer and inner layers

0.45 mm

This to allow for the V-cut.  If copper pattern is nearer to the board edge, use breakrouting

Profile dimensional tolerance after separation

0.30 mm

 

Rest material

0.45 mm +/- 0.10 mm

 

Positional tolerance upper to lower score

+/- 0.25 mm

 

Minimum score depth

0.15 mm

 

Edge bevelling

 

 

Nominal bevel angle

30° +/- 5°

See eC-Glossary

Rest material

0.25 mm

 

ViaFill

 

 

Maximum ViaFill finished hole size

0.25 mm

 

Peelable Mask

 

 

 

See PCB Design Guidelines p. 19

Carbon

 

 

 

 

See PCB Design Guidelines p. 18

Heatsink Paste

 

 

 

 

See PCB Design Guidelines p. 21

Electrical Test

 

 

Minimum test pitch

0.10 mm

 

Smallest testable pad

0.05 mm

 

Test voltage

up to 1000V

 

Test current

100 mA

Adjustable

Continuity test

Capacitance/

resistance 1 Ohm – 10 KOhm

 

Isolation test

Capacitance/

resistance up to 10 GOhm

 

How do we assure the quality of your PCB. - part 2

Posted by Lengyel Norbert
Lengyel Norbert
Norbert is quality manager in Eurocircuits Kft
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 24 April 2014
in Technology

Quality assurance - Part 2 : After Production

Final inspection steps

1.  Check the quantity of boards received.

If we lose boards during manufacture, we immediately launch a top-up order.  We push this through production to try to meet the original delivery date.  The new order has the extension –E1, so you can see if there’s been a reload on your order by checking the Running orders menu.  If we lose boards at final inspection, then we immediately reload.  Depending on the type of PCB, a remake is typically completed in 2 working days.

2.  Check the dimensions of the PCB against the drawing.

Sample check.

For each sample check, the number of samples to be tested is laid down by our QA department.  This number is based on the size of the order and more than 30 years of manufacturing experience.

We use Eurocircuits’ standard tolerances unless the customer has requested special tolerances.  For standard tolerances see our blog “PCB design tolerances” ( coming soon).

3.  Check the board thickness against the drawing.

Sample check.

The standard tolerance based on the laminate manufacturers’ specifications is +/- 10%.  If there is a gold edge-connector, the measurement is always taken there

 

4.  Check the finished hole diameter.

Sample check.

We measure the finished hole size using a measuring microscope or a tapered probe with a read-out dial.  The hole size tolerances depend on the type and size of the hole – see our blog “PCB design tolerances

5.  Check hole positions

Sample check

We check the position of the holes relative to the edge of the PCB and to each other using a measuring microscope.

100% visual check.

We check all boards to ensure that there is no drill breakout on outer or inner layers.

6.  Bow and twist.

We check where needed.

If any boards are not flat, then we measure the bow and twist.  For more information and some hints on designing to avoid bow and twist, go to our dedicated blog http://www.eurocircuits.com/index.php/eurocircuits-printed-circuits-blog/bow-and-twist-in-printed-circuits and eC-Glossary.

7.  Cosmetic appearance.

Sample tape test.

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

100% visual inspection

The PCB must be clean and free from any damage, scratches, fingerprints, dust etc.  All design features must be present (holes, pads, tracks, slots and cut-outs, profiling for panels etc.)

8.  Base material.

100% visual inspection

The base material must be correct to specification and show no defects (delamination, measling (white spots), inclusions etc.). More.

9.  Copper pattern.

100% visual inspection.

All copper tracks, pads, planes must be present and of correct size to IPC specifications, and not over- or under-etched.  To ensure that track widths are correct we use etch-compensation, that is, we increase the track widths on the phototools used to print the boards by the amount that the track will be reduced when it is etched (see further http://www.eurocircuits.com/index.php/eurocircuits-printed-circuits-blog/eurocircuits-data-preparation-make-production-panels) .  Any nicks (“mousebites”), pinholes or scratches must also be within IPC specifications.  More.

The isolation distance track to track (TT), track to pad (TP), and pad to pad (PP) must be correct to IPC specifications.  There must be no shorts between copper features or open circuits (these will have been detected by electrical test).  The inner layers must be correctly aligned to the outer layers.  This has been checked at electrical test. There must be no inner layer copper exposed at the board edge (we normally cut back copper planes to ensure adequate clearance).

10.  Copper surface.

Sample check

  1. The principal thickness measuring checks are made immediately after plating, but we check a further sample at final inspection.
  2. 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.

100% visual inspection.

The copper surface under the soldermask must be free of any damage, pitting, oxidisation, staining or burning.

11.  Plated through holes.

Sample check

We measure copper thickness using specialist measuring instruments.  We have separate probes to measure the copper thickness on the surface of the PCB and through the holes.  The copper on the hole walls must be minimum 20 microns thick.  The main inspection is immediately after plating (see Part 1).  At final inspection we measure a further sample.

100% visual inspection

Plated-through holes must be drilled right through and clear of any obstruction (glass fibres from the laminate, trapped dirt etc.).  There must be no defects in the plating through the holes (voids, cracks, plating detached from the wall of the hole etc.).  A complete break in the plating will have been detected at the electrical test stage and the board scrapped.  More.

12.  Non-plated holes.

100% visual inspection.

They must be clean and clear of any obstructions or contamination (glass fibres, plating etc.).

13.  Via fill.

100% visual inspection.

Holes specified for via-filling must be completely closed, though the soldermask need not completely fill the hole.

14.  Soldermask.

Sample test.

Poor soldermask adhesion or curing is detected by the sample tape test described under Para 10

15.  Legend.

Sample test.

Poor legend adhesion or curing is detected by the sample tape test described under para 10.

100% visual inspection.

The colour must be correct and the text legible without smearing.  The marking should be cut back from the edge of the soldermask window by 0.1 mm.  The legend must be correctly registered.  More.

100% visual inspection.

The soldermask must be of the correct colour and free of dirt or damage (some minor repairs are allowed). There must be no soldermask or soldermask residue contaminating pads to be soldered.  It must be correctly registered - see eC-Glossary.

16.  Peelable soldermask.

100% visual inspection.

The peelable soldermask must be a continuous layer 0.25 mm thick, free from dirt or damage and with no visible separation from the board surface.  There must be no residual contamination elsewhere on the PCB.

17.  Markings.

100% visual inspection.

Eurocircuits’ order number, UL marking and any other special marking requested by the customer must be in the designated location and on the designated layer (typically the legend layer) as specified in the customer’s order.

18.  Surface finishes.

Sample check on all finishes.

Poor surface finish adhesion is detected by the sample tape test described under Para 10.

18.1.  Lead-free hot-air solder levelling.

100% visual inspection.

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.

18.2.  Electroless gold over nickel.

Sample checks.

  • Thickness measurements.
  • Solderability test
  • Tape test.

100% visual inspection.

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

18.3.  Chemical silver.

Sample check.

  • Thickness measurement
  • Tape test.

100% visual inspection.

Must not be tarnished or blackened.  Finished boards are wrapped in “silver save” paper to avoid any oxidisation of the silver.

19.  Thermal shock test

Sample test.

A sample is taken from every multilayer job and immersed in molten solder for a defined length of time.  It is then checked for any delamination, blistering, solder-mask lifting etc.

20.  Solderability test.

Sample test.

A sample is immersed in molten solder for a short time.  The surface must be completely coated with solder with no de-wetting or non-wetting.

Calibration

All measuring equipment is regularly calibrated back to national standards

How do we assure the quality of your PCB. - part 1

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

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 .

Eurocircuits - what about marketing?

Posted by Dirk Stans
Dirk Stans
Managing partner marketing and sales of Eurocircuits
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 01 August 2012
in Eurocircuits strategy and history

Eurocircuits marketing strategy

Historical background

For our first 10 years we subscribed to the sales pitch “you name it, we make it”.  This was an expensive strategy which required heavy investment in plant, processes and expertise.  By 2000 – 2001 there was little or no added-value margin left to sustain the investment; the recession and the migration of PCB manufacturing to lower cost areas in the Far East had driven prices down to an unsustainable level. Many PCB manufacturers either went out of business or became brokers with most of their turnover deriving from imports from China.  The survivors specialized, either by moving into high-technology marketplaces where high prices would compensate for their ongoing investments or by finding ways to lower their costsWe adopted the latter strategy, introducing a clear, pre-defined offer combined with order pooling and online ordering and administration.

Eurocircuits marketing philosophy

In 1960 Jerome McCarthy proposed the 4 ‘P’s marketing model  This describes what a company has to offer in terms of Product, Price, Promotion and Place.  At Eurocircuits we have always used Robert F. Lauterborn’s 1993 four ‘C’s model. This is based not on how the supplier sees the market but how the market, the customer, sees the supplier. The 4 ‘C’s are Customer value, Cost to the customer, Communication and Convenience.

Eurocircuits customer value

What is the value of our offer to the customer?

1. We specialize in PCB prototypes and small series on short deliveries.  Here the customer has two paramount requirements:

-       The service must be always available

-       Deliveries must be always on time

To achieve this we measure our performance constantly and our factories are rewarded accordingly.  Our customers trust us – the trust model.

2.  We have a clear offering: standard technology rigid boards produced on pooling panels with the widest choice of technology options in the market.  We give the customer certainty right across the range of his requirements – the safe harbour model.

3.  We are one of the largest specialist suppliers of prototype and small batch PCBs in Europe.  Our size, growth and ongoing investment policy are our customers’ guarantee of quality, of continuous service availability, and of ongoing development to meet their changing needs.  Each customer can enter into a long-term relationship with us, confident in the future - the safe harbour model.

4.  We are not brokers; all our boards are produced in our own factories under our own control.  We produce to IPC A-600 class II classification.  Our quality system is certified to ISO 9000.   Our customers can rely on us to deliver a consistently high level of quality across all their orders – the trust model.

5.  Although in 2011 we handled over 53,000 orders for more than 6,500 customers, each individual order is 100% verified in our front end engineering department.  Each design is checked for manufacturability and for obvious mistakes in the layout. We report any anomalies to the customer and make suggestions how to resolve them.  Our manufacturability analyses can help customers cut their board costs by up to 25%.  Nothing is changed without the customers consent.  Our customers are confident that the board we deliver matches their intended design – the trust model.

6.  We use visualisation to convey as much information as possible.  Right at the outset we generate a visual image of every design showing how it will look after production.  The customer can spot anything that doesn’t look right before production starts - the trust model.

7.  We already have full batch traceability which the customer can access quickly online.  We are now extending traceability to individual PCBs and individual machines and processes.  This gives us closer control over our production facilities and gives the customer another guarantee of our quality – the safe harbour model.

8.  Our eC-soldering-equipment, the solder paste printer, eC-stencil-mate, and the chamber reflow oven, eC-reflow-mate, are the first two of a series of machines developed to save our customers time and money assembling their prototypes.

Eurocircuits cost to the customer

How does the customer perceive the cost of our services?

1.  Order pooling (combining several orders on the same production panel) reduces the production cost per order.  Our customers trust us to give them the best and fairest prices – the trust model.

2.  Pooling means that we don’t have heavy set-up costs per order, so we don’t charge for tooling.  So design iterations carry no cost penalty – the trust model.

3.  Our public calculator makes our prices accessible to the whole marketplace, customers and competitors alike.  This means that our pricing must be consistent, stable and competitive – and our customers know this – the trust model.

4.  Transport costs for multiple orders are recalculated at shipment to keep them as low as possible – the trust model.

5.  In the unfortunate event of a delay due to us, we reschedule the order and recalculate the price according to the new delivery term – the trust model.

6.  Online pricing and ordering using streamlined menus requiring minimum data saves the customer time and money, cutting out traditional communication costs – the trust model.

Eurocircuits convenience to the customer

How do we bring our service to the customer?

1.  Our customer interface is available 24/7  It is not just a website for getting prices but an open window into our complete e-business offering.  The customer has streamlined access into the whole business process, his user profiles, quotations, orders, invoices and payments, both current and historical.  Production data is stored indefinitely – the safe harbour model.

2.  All board data and documents can be quickly retrieved and easily visualized.  The customer can readily download the production data, for example to order third-party stencils – the trust model.

3.  The online interface offers the customer a window into our internal administration.  This guarantees the customer transparency towards his orders with Eurocircuits – the trust model.

4.  Interaction with Eurocircuits can be 100% online but personal support is also available.  Eurocircuits has a professional sales force based in the head office in Mechelen Belgium and in sales offices throughout Europe. The trust model.

Eurocircuits communication

How can the customer find us and what we offer?

1.  We have a clear and well-maintained website which is regularly updated to improve its clarity and ease of use.  It contains a wealth of technical information on our services and how to get the best out of them.  Other documents show how to design a PCB to keep costs down and ensure that the order goes rapidly and safely through our process.  This is backed by a series of videos showing how we make a PCB – the safe harbour model.

2.  We have our own YouTube, blogs and social media channels to keep our customers up to date on what we are doing.  Transparency is the key to customer trust – the trust model.

- via our blog: http://www.eurocircuits.com/index.php/eurocircuits-printed-circuits-blog

- via our YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/eurocircuits

- via Twitter: https://twitter.com/eC_PCB

3.  We have local support in all major countries and a large multilingual team in Belgium.  Our customers know that they can get support whenever they need it – the safe harbour model

4.  We inform all customers about important service upgrades and events we will attend by email.  We put the same news on the web site. Of course every user is free to opt out of this service – the trust model.

5.  For the last 10 years we have attended all major exhibitions in our field in Europe so that our customers can meet us face to face in their own countries.

Eurocircuits competitive edge

  1. Small orders on a quick turnaround:
    1. Always available
    2. Always on time

  2. We are very reliable in:
    1. Offering fair and stable prices
    2. Delivery performance
    3. Product quality

  3. We offer a high customer convenience:
    1. Always available online
    2. Transparent pricing and open to everyone
    3. Visual communication throughout the entire business process
    4. A complete online customer-supplier administration from quote to invoice

Eurocircuits - Webinar following the D&E event in Holland.

Posted by Dirk Stans
Dirk Stans
Managing partner marketing and sales of Eurocircuits
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 28 June 2012
in Meet Eurocircuits

What do PCB fabricators do with your data before they make your PCBs?

This year's D&E event in Holland was followed by a webinar. For Eurocircuits this was the first webinar in our history. It took place on 20 June launched from the premises of XWebinar in Holland.

We announced the webinar to our customer base with the working title, "Front-end data preparation". This raised a lot interest among our customers and around 140 were online when we started at 11H00. An hour and 20 minutes later over 120 were still with us. We would like to thank all those who took part.

The content of our webinar, "What do PCB fabricators do with your data before they make your PCBs", can now be found online as a white paper.

The white paper covers all aspects of the presentation we made during the webinar. It has the added advantage that it contains links to the in-depth information on the web site for all the technical issues discussed. This means that it reads more smoothly than the presentation itself.

RF pool - insights and details

Posted by Dirk Stans
Dirk Stans
Managing partner marketing and sales of Eurocircuits
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 03 September 2013
in Technology

UPDATE 7 May 2014 : New options: materials I-Tera and RO4350B form the bases of the pooling service

Eurocircuits have been producing PCBs on RF materials for many years.  At first we offered Rogers RO4000 series.  More recently we have focussed on Isola’s I-Tera material.  I-Tera offers significant cost-savings compared to the Rogers materials.  This makes it a critical component in our drive to provide a low-cost solution for RF development using order pooling technology.

RF pool updated

Our RF customers have asked us two questions:

  1. Can Eurocircuits provide a low-cost solution for RF prototype and development PCBs?
  2. Can Eurocircuits offer standard materials and builds which we can use for our designs, rather than starting from scratch each time?

Over the last few months we have had extensive discussions with our customers and RF experts to find the best way to meet these requirements.

The answer is our updated RF pool service:

  • Isola’s I-Tera provides a lower-cost material but still with a high performance specification.
  • Order pooling, sharing production costs between a number of different orders on the same production panel, is the only way to cut process costs for prototype and development PCBs without sacrificing quality or delivery.
  • Order-pooling needs standard builds which enough customers will order to fill the production pooling panels.
  • The standard materials and builds, developed after wide-ranging sector consultation, make pooling possible but also help RF engineers complete their designs faster.

How can RF pool help you with your design?

Standard builds

We offer two materials in the pooling service to give a wider range of performance: Isola I-Tera and the somewhat more expensive Rogers RO4350B™.

Isola I-Tera is suitable for many of today’s high speed digital and RF/microwave applications.  It has a dielectric constant of 3.00, stable between -55°C and +125°C up to 20 GHz.  Tg is 200° and Td 360°.  Its low dissipation factor (Df) of 0.0035 makes it a cost-effective alternative to PTFE and other commercial microwave and high-speed digital laminates.

Rogers RO4350B™ has a higher specification, making it an ideal material for broadband applications.  It has excellent dimensional stability, including a Z-axis CTE comparable to that of copper.  Tg is 280°.

Both materials have UL 94 V0 flammability certification.

Download the data sheet for I-Tera here and for Rogers RO4350B™ here.

For 4-layer boards we offer a standard build combining I-Tera or RO4350B™ with Isola PCL370HR high performance 180°Tg FR4 prepreg:

The next two pictures show the theoretical and the actual build-up of a 4-layer RF pool PCB.

Other specifications (1.55 mm thickness, 12 micron copper foil and 6-layer boards) are all available as non-poolable options (you need to order a full panel of these builds, rather than just a part of a standard pooling panel).

For 2-layer boards, RF pool offers the flexibility of two thicknesses of either I-Tera or RO4350B™ : 0.50 or 0.25 mm.

As we use standardised builds in RF pooling, we can provide the following tables for the impedance of a surface microstrip as a function of different track widths.

These are based on I-Tera using 35 micron outer layer finished copper thickness (18 micron foil plated up).  For 4-layer boards the inner layer finished copper thickness remains at 18 microns as there is no plating up.  However the inner layers are usually the reference layers in the impedance calculation for a surface microstrip, so their copper thickness is less important to the impedance calculation.

 

4 layer PCB with 0.254 mm core thickness

Impedance of Surface Microstrip

 

Track width (mm)

 

0.1

0.125

0.15

0.175

0.2

0.25

0.3

0.35

0.4

0.45

0.5

0.55

0.6

35 um
End Cu

106.92

100.28

94.55

89.53

85.04

77.31

70.8

65.17

60.22

55.8

51.8

48.16

44.81

 

2-layer PCB with 0.508 mm core thickness

Impedance of Surface Microstrip

 

Track width (mm)

 

0.1

0.125

0.15

0.175

0.2

0.25

0.3

0.35

0.4

0.45

0.5

0.55

0.6

35 um
End Cu

135.64

128.99

123.27

118.24

113.76

106.03

99.52

93.89

88.94

84.51

80.52

76.87

73.52

 

If you want to calculate the effect that the solder mask has on the circuit behaviour, we use SUN Chemicals XV501T-4 HV Semi Matt Clear Resist - CAWN 1331 green soldermask, dielectric constant of 3,9 - 4,0.  Link to Sun Chemical

 

Special builds

Other materials (Rogers RO4003), other builds and other copper weights may be available as special builds.  Use the “Launch inquiry” option in the price calculator, tick the “Special build” box and upload your data with a clear drawing showing what you require.  Our engineers will evaluate your specification and report back whether we can build your board, and if so, what the price will be.

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
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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.

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