Outline/Milling Editor – PCB Solver tool updated

Outline/Milling Editor.

The Outline Editor, the second tool in the PCB Solver range, was launched in November 2015.  In December 2015 it has been updated to handle internal slots and cutouts as well as board outline (profiles).  It has been renamed the Outline/Milling Editor.  The updated version has the same powerful functionality as Version 1 with some new go-faster features for outline editing.

PCB Solver gives you the tools to fix common data issues before you place your order.  You avoid delays to your delivery and can often reduce board costs.  More tools will be released during 2016.

Use the Outline/Milling Editor to correct the board outline where the outline (profile) data is missing, incomplete, incorrect or duplicated (two outlines found).  When this happens PCB Visualizer gives you a clear warning.  In most cases you can fix the outline directly on screen, avoiding the disruption and delays involved if you have to go back to the CAD system.

Use the Outline/Milling Editor for internal slots and cutouts to

  • check slot and cutout data in a mechanical layer is correct and repair it if not
  • clearly identify slots and cutouts if they are not defined in a mechanical layer

Note: PCB Visualizer is an automatic pre-production Gerber and drill data analyzer.  Gerber is a pure vector format, so unless attributes are used, PCB Visualizer cannot recognize slots and cutouts.  For advice on defining slots and cutouts, see here.

There’s a full description with the latest features here.

      outline-editor.jpg

Outline/Milling Editor – the next PCB Solver tool 

PCB Solver.

PCB Solver is the third component in the PCB Visualizer user interface. PCB Visualizer itself is the core of our pre-order data verification process. As soon as you upload your data into your Shopping basket, PCB Visualizer generates a detailed analysis of the PCB dataset and compares it to the specifications of the proposed order and of the chosen PCB service. PCB Configurator then provides a detailed report of the board status. PCB Checker pinpoints any DRC or DFM issues found in the data. PCB Solver provides the tools to fix them, either automatically or interactively.

The Outline & Milling Editor and the automatic repair of annular rings running in PCB Checker are the first two of a series of repair tools planned to fix the data issues which our customers have told us frustrate them the most.

PCB Visualizer’s pre-order data verification is a key part of our optimized PCB design workflow. By spending a few minutes checking the board data prior to ordering you avoid delivery delays of 24 hours or more while our engineers come back with questions (“exceptions”). In many cases you can also cut the board costs. That way you can order confident that you will get the right board, on the right day, at the right price.

PCB Solver has been made possible by a major change in PCB Visualizer’s core structure. This is now vector-based rather than image-based. It is structured around real objects (pads, tracks, drills …). This allows us to extend to users the benefits of procedures already field-proven in our front-end data-preparation process. It has the added benefit of smaller internal data-sets and so faster processing.

How to use the Outline & Milling Editor: go to technical description or watch our video

New Auto-repair function in PCB Visualizer

Why use PCB Visualizer?

We launched PCB Visualizer in 2012 so that users could view their data on screen, check that it showed the exact PCB they wanted and make sure that there were no data issues which might delay delivery.

The result was a big fall in the delays due to data issues (“exceptions”) raised by our engineers during data preparation. And the delays have fallen further thanks to the Pre-Production Approval procedure introduced in April 2015. Now you need make only 1 mouse-click to get your job into production.

But what happens if you are away for a day or two? Your delivery is delayed.

Better sort the issues before you place your order.

That’s where PCB Visualizer comes in. Get a price and upload your data into your Shopping basket. Then wait 2 – 3 minutes for PCB Visualizer to analyse your data-set and identify any issues which may delay production (missing files, design-rule parameters that don’t match your chosen service, ….). Check the PCB Visualizer column on the Shopping basket page. If there is a green tick, there are no data issues. Place your order confident there should be no delays.

If there is a red flag, there are critical issues which may delay delivery.

The new Auto-repair tools will help you deal with red-flag issues with minimum time lost.

Automatic repair functions in PCB Visualizer.

From July 2015 PCB Visualizer includes automatic repair functions.

Our data preparation procedures include a number of routine automated procedures which adjust the design data to our manufacturing tolerances. They are described in our data preparation BLOGS Eurocircuits Data Preparation – Single Image 1 and Eurocircuits Data Preparation – Single Image 2. We are now gradually introducing them as automated repair functions into PCB Visualizer.

Auto-repair function #1 – annular rings on via holes.

The first automated repair function is now available to use. It repairs annular rings (outer and inner) on via holes where the copper ring remaining after drilling is below the minimum value for the chosen service. The repair function automatically reduces the via hole size, for example from 0.50 mm to 0.25 mm, so that the copper ring around the drill tool meets the service specification.

Although the repair function is automatic, the user retains full control of the operational parameters. He can:

  1. Define which holes are vias. Important as some component leads need very fine (0.40 mm) finished hole sizes
  2. Set the smallest finished hole size allowed. For example, to keep within the parameters of the lowest cost pooling service

To see in detail how the new Auto-repair can help you, go to our new PCB Checker User Guide. This is the first in a series of User Guides to our design-optimisation, data-checking and order preparation tools which will be released over the next 2 – 3 months.

All new User Guides will be available online, but if you would like to receive an email with a link to each as it is released, opt in for the mailing here

Auto-repair ongoing.

We plan more Auto-repair functions to help you get lower cost and more robust PCBs with no delays to delivery.

Meanwhile a couple of tips to solve data issues fast:

TIP 1.

Smart menus can provide fast 1-click solutions to data issues. In the example pictured just click the “Measured” radio button to change the PCB classification and clear the flag.

TIP 2.

Yellow-triangle (non-critical) minor issues will usually be resolved by our data preparation engineers. So they can be safely left open.

Panel editor

  1. 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.

delivery format

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.

price summary

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

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

YouTube settings

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

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Marking editor

Adding custom markings – yet another PCB Visualizer function

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

Watch our movie at the end of this BLOG.

NEW August 2014

Add logo

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

Marking summary.

Internal job number

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

UL

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

Other custom markings

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

How to use the new function

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

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

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

Tools:

marking tools

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

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

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

order number properties

Tips:

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

UL marking

marking UL

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

Tips:

  1. UL marking can appear on a copper layer, in the solder-mask, or on a legend layer. The size of the UL marking is defined by UL and cannot be changed neither should it overlap other items.
    UL logo properties
  2. At this stage there are no automatic checks to prevent the logo shorting any tracks or pads on a copper layer. Any problem introduced at this stage will be picked up by our data preparation engineers at the moment of order and will result into an exception that will be reported back to you.

Customer specific markings

marking customer specific info

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

Add QR code:

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

Tips:

  1. The Value can be up to 2953 alphanumeric characters using the standard ISO8859-1 character set (covers most characters in European languages). But the larger the content the denser the QR-code will become and thus the larger in size it will need to be to stay readable.
    QR code properties.png
  2. The minimum legible size will depend on the number of characters used.  In any case we do not allow a size below 8 x 8 mm.  Anything smaller will not be legible.

Add text:

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

Tips:

  1. Text uses the same ISO8859-1 character set as the QR code.
    TEXT properties
  2. We use proportional fonts, so the height of the letters determines the size of the box.

Add production date:

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

Tips:

  1. You have a choice of 6 formats.  Select the format here.
    production date properties
  2. Our front-end engineering system will automatically insert the date on which we generate the production pooling panel.

Add custom LOGO

customer logo

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

Tips:

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

Marking legend

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

marking legend

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

How to save the new data

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

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

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

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

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

Buildup wizard and layer editor updated

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 euro@eurocircuits.com.

Your PCB Visualizer questions answered

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

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

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

ACTION tips.

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

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

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

What are the most common questions our customers ask us?

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

There are several possible reasons:

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

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

2. What do the flags mean?

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

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

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

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

3. What do the messages mean?

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

Import failed.

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

ACTION needed:

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

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

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

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

No drill layers found.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plating index lower than 0.4.

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

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

Minimum track-width and isolation distance.

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

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

Minimum annular ring.

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

Component holes.

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

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

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

Via holes.

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

Note.

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

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

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

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

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

Buildup is wrong

This can usually be avoided by clear layer naming conventions.

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

Layers mis-assigned

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

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

PCB Visualizer has not recognised my profile/scoring layers.

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

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

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

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

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

 

PCB Visualizer – the next level of intelligence

New features: “Layer editor” and “Buildup wizard”

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

Layer editor.

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

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

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

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

Buildup wizard.

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

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

Blind vias correct.

Blind vias incorrect

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

More information on Board buildup and Layer editor

PCB Configurator

It has been a while since we posted newsitems here. A complete new module for Eurocircuits customers was implemented, We started the implementation for Eurocircuits, Elektor PCB Service as well as Element 14 PCB Service in May. By now ( October 2013) the system is stable and all orders from Eurocircuits channels are processed through the new PCB Configurator.

Dirk Stans, managing partner marketing sales of Eurocircuits states :

PCB Configurator – visualised ordering saves time and cuts costs.

“How can we make the ordering process faster, safer and simpler for our customers?  How can we present them with the widest choice of technologies, deliveries, quantities and prices so that every order is optimised to their requirements?”.  These are some of the questions we asked ourselves when we started to redesign our user interface.

We made changes to our service structure (our blog about the new services).  We made changes to our pricing structure (logic behind our new pcb price calculator).  But we also introduced powerful new features into the ordering process itself.

Read the full text in the PCB Configurator blog on the Eurocircuits website (PCB Configurator for Eurocircuits)

PCB Visualizer update 06/03/2013

  • Added Check the outline import remark given when the outline was found with some degree of incertainty.

  • Improved visualisation of rout layers.

  • Improved visualisation of blind/burried drill layers in customer data

  • Inner layer annular ring was reported under the header Outer layer annular ring in PCB Checker. Solved.