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pcb prototype

Considerations Before Sending Your PCB Prototype to Mass Production

You’ve designed an innovative new or updated circuit board for your smart technology, but now it’s time for a prototype. Here are a few things to keep in mind before sending your PCB prototype out for production.

Determine Your Top Priority

One of the first things you must determine is your top priority: board size, cost, or layout time. The larger the board, the higher the routing function, but the higher the cost. However, multiple layers on smaller boards are sometimes more expensive than larger prototypes. The smaller the board, the longer it takes to layout. 

Part Selection

If your design currently requires a sole-sourced part, consider if you can swap it out for something that is more widely available—if not for the long-term, for your prototypes. Otherwise, waiting for the part you need can cause a bottleneck in your launch date. While easy availability is ideal, also consider if there are any new parts that can improve your current design. And yes, this includes sole-source parts. Just be mindful of turnaround. If you are sending part kits with, create a checklist to double check all parts are accounted for.

Layout and Polarity Markings

If you haven’t yet, it’s time to ensure your board is laid out for maximum efficiency and has clear polarity markings. No large parts next to small parts that can interfere with solder function and no copper planes that overlap only on one side of small parts. Ensure that your polarity markings and reference designators are crystal clear. You know where everything is supposed to go, but if your markings aren’t clear your prototypes may come out incorrectly. The most common cause of incorrect PBC prototype completion is being sent outdated design files. Your prototype has likely evolved, so double check you send the correct version. 

Don’t have a prototype partner yet? Reach out to BESTProto today for a quote.

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pcb panelization

PCB Assemblies: A Quick Tutorial

Electronics manufactured for everything from healthcare to space shuttles require a PCB Assembly. In fact, the invention of the PCB (Printed Circuit Board) and how it supports physical components and their wiring through copper tracks is remarkable. The components are fixed into position by drilling holes in the board, placing them, and then soldering them in place or, having pads to place on the surface in what’s called Surface Mount Technology (SMT). 

Panelization has brought high amounts of efficiency to PCB Assembly production, which wasn’t possible in the early days. Consequently, technicians can prototype a handful of project boards all in one simple swoop. 

Fortunately, with the proper PCB Assembly design software, PCB panelization has never been easier to implement. Let’s explore the simplicity of designing your own PCB panel with a quick tutorial.

1. Draw your board

It all starts with preparing the board layout. In this stage, you’ll need to draw your board. Schematics are important throughout this stage. The schematics are used for laying out the traces and placing the components on the PCB. 

Start by logging in to your software, and create a new project. Make sure that in the process of drawing your schematic, each schematic symbol you use has a PCB footprint associated with it. The PCB footprint will define the component’s physical dimensions and placement of the copper pads or through holes. This stage is great to decide which components you’ll be using. 

2. Draw your artwork

The next step is to transfer your schematic diagram into a drawing of your printed circuit board. Drawing PCBs can be a time-consuming process. Thankfully, most PCB layout software is equipped with tools that will help you draw your board from the schematic.

3. Placement of components

Do you prefer your circuit board to be in a box? Keep in mind that tall components might need to be flat to fit. You can test this by drawing your components on your board, then printing it out on a sheet of paper. This will help you know if it will fit in the box and if the connectors will fit properly.

4. Assembly of your PCB

When you have completed your drawing, it is time to get your PCB design ready for manufacturing. This step is all about finding a trusted PCB production and assembly specialist. Look for an organization who will work with you on prototyping, stands behind their work, and has an expert understanding of your industry. Contact BESTProto today to request a quote on your project.

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