May 2016, Eurocircuits is 25 years young.

From zero to European Reference in our market in 25 years.

Starting with a telephone, fax and a PC, Eurocircuits grew in 25 years to an international group with 3 modern factories, over 200 employees and more than 10.000 customers trusting us yearly with around 100.000 orders. A story that will be celebrated a few times this year.

Currently Eurocircuits is the European reference for PCB prototypes and small series. “Everything we sell, we make” we don’t sell other peoples’ product, giving us complete control from start to finish offering what is known in the market as standard technology, hence no laser drilled holes. Eurocircuits specialises in order pooling which brings the price down for prototypes and small series. The offered pallet of technological possibilities is one of the largest in the market.

The entire Eurocircuits service spectrum is available for consulting and ordering on line. Our website is a free to use library of PCB issues and every customer account contains a large number of free to use tools that help electronics designers prepare their layout data for error-free ordering or even offer them editing tools that may not have been available in their CAD package.

“Whatever you do yourself, you do best” is one of Eurocircuits mottos. Next to the production of the PCBs we also program our own software packages. Our online administration, front end web interface as well as the back office support, is created by Eurocircuits. Therefore, ICT investments form an important chunk of our yearly budget.

23rd of May is the red letter day for Eurocircuits NV. We will celebrate this in Hungary and at the same time inaugurate our new second building of Eurocircuits kft, we will report of this later.

For now, we pledge our continued commitment to our customers and prospects for the next 25 years.

Eurocircuits Eger finishes second building.

In 2014 the plan grew to extend the housing for our Eurocircuits kft facility in Eger. After the preparation of the building ground in 2014, the construction started in July 2015. 31st of March 2016 the building was officially finished after which we can start furnishing it.

The building has two floors and is 1,980 sqm large. Like our 5,000 sqm main building it is build on a rather steep slope. Around 7.000 cubic meter of soil was dug out.

The basement is a solid concrete construction with 30cm brick walls and 12cm thermal insulation. The basement is 890 sqm large and serves as stock, logistic area, server room, technical installation and then mens social rooms.

The upper level is a metal construction with insulated panels 150/160mm (Kingspan). Also 890 sqm, it serves as production area, office, kitchen and social area for the women workers.

Operating between the two floors, there is a 600kg strong elevator.

The entire building is managed by a Building Management System that takes control over the fire detection, the access control, the camera system and the heating and cooling and the energy management.

We have a large interest in consciously using energy. Our 37KW air-compressor contains a heat exchanger, our building is fitted with 3-layer glass windows, walls roof and the basement floor are well insulated and the roof is filled with solar collectors for hot water and 34KW strong solar cells.

The total investment was 1.35M€, spent to allow our Eurocircuits Eger site to grow and flourish.

CAM Engineers celebrating Holi – a festival of colours

Holi is an ancient Hindu religious festival. It signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring and the end of winter.

During Holi, Hindus attend a public bonfire, spray friends and family with coloured powders and water, and generally go a bit wild.
In PCB Planet, the Eurocircuits engineering unit, over 100 engineers are preparing CAD-data for production. More than 600 jobs pass through their hands on daily basis.
Holi is a welcome break and gives our people the occasion to meet each other in different circumstances. Watch the pictures and you will understand why we asked them to celebrate outside the building.

The Eurocircuits team wish you a healthy and prosperous 2016

2015 – Another record year

2015 was a record year for sales, orders and the number of active customers. This allowed us to re-invest €2.5 million during 2015 in new equipment and new products to keep our customers at the cutting edge of PCB technology.

New services in 2015.

  1. NAKED proto. “true” prototype service for prototypes without soldermask.
  2. SEMI-FLEX pool. To answer the demand for FLEX-TO-INSTALL prototypes and small series.
  3. BINDI pool extended. More options added for BINDI pool.

New software tools.

  1. New Auto-repair function in PCB Visualizer. Intelligent DRC rules repair Annular Rings that are too small to manufacture.
  2. Outline/Milling Editor. Use the Outline/Milling Editor to correct the board outline where the outline (profile) data is missing, incomplete, incorrect or duplicated (two outlines found).
  3. We updated our Pre Production Approval functionality to handle DATA issues. This new way of handling data issues reduced the number of real exceptions that stopped the processing of data, no matter how briefly, by a factor 6 to 4% of all data sets.
  4. New eurocircuits.com website. We renewed our website to better serve the need of the electronics design engineers offering clearer information and tools.

New eC-equipment.

  1. eC-placer. To manually assist and aid with accurate and fast population of components to your PCB prototype.
  2. eC-fume-cube. An efficient and silent fume extraction system to complement our eC-reflow-mate-hood.

For more information, see our BLOG Looking back at 2015.

New things for 2016

2016 we will focus on our core business processes, making them faster and more efficient.

In looking back at 2015 we gave an overview of last years’ achievements. This year we will prepare ourselves to handle more than 100.000,- orders in our manufacturing and over 400.000,- data sets through our PCB Visualizer.

Improving speed, performance and efficiency will be our top priority during the first 6 months of 2016.

After the above goals will be achieved we still have many projects in the pipeline.

2015 we made our PCB Visualizer vector based allowing more PRE-CAM tasks to be performed and allowing a better interaction with the user. Our goal is still to automatically process PCB data as far as possible through the CAM operations before our customer launches his order. At the same time interactively solving potential production issues before they delay delivery or increase costs.

All this means that the data will be composed, like Gerber, of “real” entities (tracks, pads, planes, holes etc.). This allows for faster processing, but also opens the way for a whole range of new applications and repair solutions like auto repair of annular rings and outline editor explained in looking back at 2015.

What will come next, when and what still needs to be revealed will become clear during 2016.

2016 is one of the most exciting years for Eurocircuits yet, with the new improvements we plan, investments made and our new building. To top it all we will celebrate our 25th anniversary, on the 1st of May!

For more information, see our BLOG: Looking forward at 2016.

Continuity of supply

All our boards are produced in our own factories in Germany, Hungary and India. Don’t let your PCB supply get threatened by the Chinese New Year shut-downs in the coming weeks. Contact us (euro@eurocircuits.com) and we will be happy to keep your production flowing. Our BINDI pool service now handles orders up to 50 m2.

Technical blogs

Some recent highlights:

If you would like us to produce a blog or white paper on a particular aspect of PCB manufacturing technology, PCB soldering or EAGLE CAD, email us at euro@eurocircuits.com.

Meet us

The best way to share ideas and knowledge is face to face. Come and meet us at:

Looking forward in 2016

In 2016 our focus will be on our core business processes, making them faster and more efficient.

In our BLOG looking back at 2015 we presented an overview of last years’ achievements. This year we are preparing ourselves to handle more than 100.000,- orders in our manufacturing and over 400.000,- data sets through our PCB Visualizer.

=> Improving speed, performance and efficiency will be our number one priority during the first 6 months of 2016.

Once the above goals have been achieved, we still have many exciting projects in the pipeline to help improve the products and services that we offer, with more yet to be revealed during the year:

  1. PCB Solver tools:

    2015 we made our PCB Visualizer vector based allowing more PRE-CAM tasks to be performed and allowing a better interaction with the user. Our goal is still to automatically process PCB data as far as possible through the CAM operations before our customers launch their orders. Simultaneously allowing customer interaction to solve potential production issues before they delay delivery or increase costs.

    What this means is that the data will be composed, like Gerber, of “real” entities (tracks, pads, planes, holes etc.). This allows for faster processing, but also opens the way for a whole range of new applications and repair solutions, for example, like auto repair of annular rings and outline editor as explained in our BLOG looking back at 2015.

    • When we prepare a job for production we run a number of routine automated procedures on our front-end engineering CAM systems (more). These adjust the design data to our manufacturing tolerances. The procedures include:
      • Preparing the soldermask to provide a minimum clearance from the copper pad, adequate cover over adjacent tracks, minimum webs between pads etc.(see our PCB Design Guidelines page 15)
      • Clipping the silkscreen to make sure that there is no ink on solderpads ( PCB Design Guidelines page 17)
      • Other adjustments as described in our BLOGS: Eurocircuits Data Preparation – Single Image 1 and Eurocircuits Data Preparation – Single Image 2.PCB Solver will automatically display the results of these procedures immediatly via the PCB Visualizer. You can exactly see what your finished board will look like before you place your order. If you find any potential issues, you have time to modify your design- or talk to our engineers via Online Chat.
    • PCB solver tools will continue to flag up DRC issues as they arise. The software will propose possible solutions based on the service specifications chosen and the options available in our CAM system. This may mean simply changing the classification of the job, but other options can include reducing a via-hole size, enlarging a pad size etc. Users will have the option to confirm the individual changes proposed by setting up approval rules (accept all changes, accept certain types of change, or confirm each case). The proposed solutions will be as described in our data preparation BLOGS Eurocircuits Data Preparation – Single Image 1 and 
      Eurocircuits Data Preparation – Single Image 2

  2. Assembly tools:

    • Solder paste editor. Edit solder paste pads on customer’s own paste layer or one generated by Eurocircuits. Functions include adding and deleting pads, as well as enlarging or shrinking them in X, Y or both. Add tooling holes or targets plus dimensions and positioning for the stencil.
    • Design for Assembly. Two predictive tools to help to detect locations where there is a risk of poor soldering.
      • Solder escape. Detect and flag places where solder could escape from the solder-pad, leaving a weak joint.

         

      • Solder bridge. Detect and flag potential solder shorts based on minimum isolation distances, soldermask configuration and solder process type.
         

  3. Services:

    • High definition solder mask. 2015, we have installed a Ledia direct imaging machine. This exposes standard photo-imageable soldermasks directly, without the need for phototools. Direct exposure allows narrower clearances between soldermask and copper pads as well as thinner webs between soldermask windows for easier and more reliable assembly of difficult components (QFN, BGA, small pitch, etc…). See our PCB Design Guidelines.

And we are looking forward to the finishing of our new building in Eger and our 25th anniversary on the 1st of May 2016!

Looking back at 2015

Let’s throw some figures at you:

PCB services

Year

Customers

Orders

Sales

2015

+/- 10.000

+/- 93.000

+/- 19.250.000

2014

+/- 9.000

+/- 77.500

+/- 16.600.000

2013

+/- 8.000

+/- 69.500

+/- 15.500.000

2012

+/- 6.900

+/- 63.000

+/- 15.000.000

All sales figures are in € and exclude transport costs and taxes.

Eurocircuits has shown a consistent growth in customers and orders over the last 2 decades. 2015 has been another successful year with a consolidated turnover including PCB services, eC-equipment and consumables exceeding 20 million Euro. This growth allows us to continue to develop new products and services for our customers. We will continue to invest in new equipment and new processes to keep you at the cutting edge of PCB technology, and to provide more of the tools that will help you deliver your products to market on time and on budget.

2016 will see another leap forward in PCB services, in PCB software tools and in eC-equipment. These are described in our “Looking forward in 2016” BLOG. Here let’s summarize what was new in 2015.

First the services:

  1. NAKED proto. We introduced this “true” prototype service to lower costs and to respond to the demand for prototypes without soldermask.
    NAKED proto – insight and details
  2. SEMI-FLEX pool. To answer the demand for FLEX-TO-INSTALL prototypes and small series.
    SEMI-FLEX pool – insight and details
  3. New options for Chemical Nickel-Gold Surface finish.
    Che Ni/Au finish extended
  4. More options added for BINDI pool
    BINDI pool extended announced in our news letter

New software tools

to help designers cut costs, save time in safely ordering their PCBs and tailor their design data for particular orders:

  1. Focus on PCB Visualizer core engine. We foucussed on speed and respons times of the system as well rebuilding the core to handle vector data.
    1. 2015 we processed 335.000,- PCB data sets with an average system repons time of 139 seconds thus bringing a full analyses and visualisation of your board on screen within 3 minutes average (We do see peek moments in the morning and around 16H00 and the processing time for a 2-layer board is not the same as for a 12-layer board, actual experiences may vary from the average based upon these circumstances.).
    2. By autumn 2015 we succeeded in turning the system into a real vector based system which builds the fundament for many new applications. Points 2 and 3 are examples of that.
  2. New Auto-Repair function in PCB Visualizer. Intelligent DRC rules repair Annular Rings that are too small to manufacture.
    New Auto-repair function in PCB Visualizer
  3. Outline/Milling Editor. Use the Outline/Milling Editor to correct the board outline where the outline (profile) data is missing, incomplete, incorrect or duplicated (two outlines found).
    Outline/Milling Editor – PCB Solver tool updated
  4. We updated our Pre-Production Approval functionality to handle DATA issues. This new way of handling data issues reduced the number of real exceptions that stopped the processing of data, no matter how briefly, by a factor 6 to 4% of all data sets.
    Watch our movie.
  5. New website. We renewed our website to better serve the need of the electronics design engineers offering clearer information and tools.
    eurocircuits.com

New equipment

expanding our PCB assembling and soldering aids:

  1. eC-placer. To manually assist and aid with accurate and fast population of components to your PCB prototype.
    eC-placer
  2. eC-fume-cube. An efficient and silent fume extraction system to complement our eC-reflow-mate-hood.
    eC-fume-cube

Workshops:

We organized a series of workshops on prototype soldering and on working with the EAGLE CAD system. Many of our customers upgraded their EAGLE systems in the summer when CadSoft released a major new version. If you would like to join a workshop, contact your local sales team or email euro@eurocircuits.com.

Based on this experience we have introduced a series of BLOGs about layout and EAGLE which you can find here.

Investments in ICT, plant and equipment:

We re-invested more than €2.5 million during 2015 in R&D and new equipment including:

    1. Extra software licenses to boost the capacity and speed of our website, so that we can provide a better access experience to more customers at the same time.
    2. PCB Visualizer development. Each year we spend over 300k Euro in further development of our online tools because we believe in tools that make ordering faster and more efficient.
    3. eC-placer development.
    4. Digital legend inkjet printers.

      We acquired 2 new Orbotech sprint 120 inkjet printers and upgraded our old one”s to this latest technology.

    5. New solder mask spray coaters in our Eger plant.
    6. New drilling, routing and V-cut machines.
    7. New schmoll machines were added to our machine park bringing especially routing and V-cut up to the latest high standards.An extra plasma etching machine, AOI, laboratory equipment etc… complete the list of 2015 installed machines.

Eurocircuits – supporting the European design community 24/7 throughout the summer

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

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

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

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

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

Eurocircuits install Ledia V5 Direct Imaging (DI)

In January we made one of our largest investments in a single piece of machinery when we installed a Ledia V5 direct imaging system from Japanese image-processing company Screen.

Our commitment to the European engineering design community demands continuous investment in new production technology. When you need a new PCB technology we must have the necessary manufacturing processes in place. For example, fine-pitched components (BGAs etc.) require increasingly fine soldermask dams between pads to minimize the risk of solder shorts. The Ledia V5 allows us to offer finer dams than are possible with conventional imaging technology.


The Ledia V5 will also give us

  • shorter process times and more capacity. That way we keep fast deliveries on time.
  • more pooling service opportunities to help you keep your costs down.

What is Direct Imaging?

Traditional PCB imaging systems expose photosensitive etch and plating resists and soldermask inks using film-based phototools. Direct imaging systems cut out the phototool and use scanning technology to “write” the image directly onto the resist.

The success of the new technology can be seen from equipment sales within the PCB industry: since 2010 Direct Imaging systems have outsold the traditional phototool-based exposure systems by 3 to 1.

What are the benefits of the Ledia V5?

We will use Ledia for inner layers, fine-line outer layers and tight-toleranced soldermasks.

The Ledia V5 direct imaging system installed in the yellow room in our plant in Eger.

1. Higher quality imaging, especially of fine-line PCBs

1.1. More accurate imaging of fine tracks and fine features.

The Ledia V5 uses a more coherent light source than conventional exposure systems. The LEDs can be fine-tuned to give a more precise polymerization of photosensitive resists and inks. Using Ledia V5 we can image fine lines and features on PCBs more accurately and more reliably than before.

1.2. Better registration allows tighter tolerances on outer layers and soldermasks.

Conventional exposure systems use fixed phototools. Designers must reduce packing densities on multilayer PCBs to accommodate the process tolerances on the phototool as well as the tolerances required by PCB manufacture. Multilayer bonding in particular can introduce linear and non-linear distortions in production panels. These distortions are difficult to predict as they depend to a large extent on the copper layout itself.

Direct Imaging brings two advantages: it eliminates the tolerances required by the phototool, and it allows dynamic registration on each production panel. Thus the Ledia V5 automatically aligns the image to each drilled panel, and then uses fiducials to compensate the image “on-the-fly” for any linear or non-linear distortion in the panel. Even on large pooling panels fine-line circuits can be registered individually without loss of throughput. Image compensation allows successful imaging of tighter-toleranced PCBs with higher packing densities.

2. Tighter toleranced soldermasks for fine-pitched components (BGAs etc.)

Higher quality imaging and more precise registration means that we can image soldermasks with tighter tolerances.

This allows

  • designs with higher packing densities. Smaller soldermask windows allow smaller gaps between copper pads and adjacent tracks
  • more reliable soldering at board assembly. Ledia can image finer soldermask dams between fine-pitch pads to prevent solder shorts.

3. More plant capacity for faster and more reliable deliveries.

Direct imaging cuts out the process steps needed to plot, inspect and register phototools as well as to register them onto the exposure units. As we specialize in prototype and small batch orders we need to process tens of thousands of phototools annually (in 2014 at our Eger plant we used 36,000 films for imaging and 25,000 films for solder mask). Reducing these figures, perhaps by as much as two-thirds, will shorten our production cycle and increase plant capacity, meaning faster and more reliable deliveries, especially for 2 – 3 day jobs.

4. Minimum disruption to production and to processes.

The first Direct Imaging systems used UV lasers, but, as its name suggests, the Ledia 5V uses high-intensity LEDs. The peak efficiency of a UV laser falls within a very narrow frequency band, so DI systems using UV lasers need special resists. The Ledia V5’s LEDs have a broader frequency range so that we can continue to use our existing resists and soldermask inks. This makes Ledia 5V a “drop-in” upgrade to our existing imaging processes. So no time lost evaluating and approving new processes; there is minimum disruption to production – and our customers don’t need to re-qualify our soldermasks.

Deal yourself a smart hand with Eurocircuits

It’s the beginning of a new year and we would like to thank our many customers for their valued business. As our thank-you, every user will receive a pack of eurocircuits playing cards with his first Eurocircuits order placed on or after Monday 12 January 2015. The cards will be shipped with the delivery.

Often, companies limit their thanks to the “first lucky 100” orders. Eurocircuits have over 9,000 active customers in a year and we want to thank as many of their eurocircuits users as possible. We have prepared plenty of packs of cards. So we can say that the offer is limited to the first 8.000 smart users.

As well as the playing cards we will be offering many other good things during 2015, good deliveries, good quality and good prices, as well as new tools to help you bring your projects to market on time and on budget. For a starter, visit our blog Looking forward in 2015. We will keep you updated via our Technical update emails – and every new release will be fully described in a blog.

The Eurocircuits team wish you a healthy and prosperous 2015.

In this Update:

  • New products for 2015
  • 2014 – another record year
  • Continuity of supply – we don’t buy from China

New products for 2015

Throughout 2015 we will roll-out new tools to ensure that your boards are fabricated and assembled faster and more reliably.

  1. New pre- and post-order visualisation tools:
    • See the expected results of routine data preparation (soldermask adjustment, silkscreen clipping, …)before you order
    • Choose from online solutions to any production issues detected by our validation tools (pre-order) or by our engineers (post-order)
  2. Design for Assembly tools:
    • Edit solder-paste pads to optimise paste deposition
    • Detect potential soldering issues (solder escape, solder bridging, …)
  3. 3D verification tools:
    • Generate 3D images of the assembled PCB
    • Generate 3D vector files for mechanical CAD systems to confirm that the assembled board will fit in its housing

Plus new services

  1. Schematics to PCB: producing PCBs starting from digitally supplied schematics and BOM
  2. SEMI-FLEX pool: multilayer PCBs which can be bent to fit into complex spaces.
  3. High definition soldermask: our new direct-imaging system allows tighter tolerance soldermasks for more reliable assembly of QFNs, BGAs…
For more information, see our BLOG: Looking forward at 2015. Which of the new products will be most useful for you? Use the Survey form in the BLOG to tell us. We’ll use the results to prioritise the roll-out.

2014 – a record year

2014 was a record year for sales, orders and the number of active customers. This allowed us to re-invest €1.5 million during 2014 in new equipment and new products to keep our customers at the cutting edge of PCB technology.

New services in 2014.
  1. RF pool: upgraded to provide a lower-cost solution for RF prototypes
  2. New order time-line: for easier order tracking
  3. Pre-production approval: for a final check on manufacturing data
  4. PCB PIXture: make your PCBs stand out from the crowd
New software tools.
  1. Build wizard updated: pick the most cost-effective multilayer build.
  2. Marking editor: add order-specific text exactly where you want it on the PCB.
  3. Panel Editor: design on screen the panel you need for assembly.
New eC-equipment.
  1. eC-test-mate: fixtureless testing for assembled PCBs
  2. eC-pre-heater: for faster and more reliable hand-soldering of critical components.

For more information, see our BLOG Looking back at 2014.

Continuity of supply

All our boards are produced in our own factories in Germany, Hungary and India. Don’t let your PCB supply get threatened by the Chinese New Year shut-downs (around 19 February), Contact us (euro@eurocircuits.com) and we will be happy to keep your production flowing. Our BINDI pool service now handles orders up to 50 m2.

Technical blogs

Some recent highlights:
If you would like us to produce a blog or white paper on a particular aspect of PCB manufacturing technology, PCB soldering or EAGLE CAD, email us at euro@eurocircuits.com.