When it comes to manufacturing processes, there’s no shortage of ways to streamline your process from start to finish. Do you have a manual design team or a fully automated machine that cuts costs and saves time? Would you rather keep everything local for faster turnaround times?
Whatever your answer, chances are there’s an easier way to make it work for you. Sure, you could spend loads of cash on new machinery and software, but if you have the right design principles in mind from the start, investing in some better tools can help improve your process without breaking the bank. Here are 5 tips by the FS PCBA to improve your PCB design process:
It’s easy to get caught up in the details of electronics design and forget about the big picture. Two-dimensional PCB drawings are easy to throw together but don’t really convey the full picture of the circuit. You’ll need to consider not just the layout of components and connections but also the signal flow through the PCB, the power requirements of the circuit, and the thermal behavior of the PCB itself.
Consider what you’ll need to do each step of the design process and make sure it’s clearly outlined in your organization’s workflow. You may need separate design, manufacturing, and testing teams in order to get your design turned around as quickly as possible.
Electronics simulation can be used to design printed circuit boards or to simulate their behavior under different conditions and real-world scenarios. It can also be used to predict the effects of different components before they’re even designed.
Use simulation software like Altium’s CircuitMaker or Cadsoft’sWIKA Mark II. Simulation programs usually require an external PCB that you can import your design data into. Once you’ve got the design loaded in, you can use the simulation software to test different conditions and scenarios to see how your circuit would react.
Automated processes can take loads off your engineers’ shoulders and free them up to focus on design and problem solving. Automated manufacturing processes can help save time, improve throughput, and cut costs from drill, dropper, and die (DDR) to reflow soldering. If you’re using a fully automated PCB manufacturing machine like an EBM or a one-stop PCB house, make sure you understand the machine’s capabilities, the materials it can produce, and the turnaround times.
Engineers can also use automation to improve board layout and design generation. A layout program like Altium’s Visio or Cadsoft’s WaveMaker can import circuit schematics, 2D and 3D PCB designs, data sheets, and other design data and produce a single, finalized design with components and connections on the PCB.
Collaboration Is Key
The best way to streamline your PCB design process is to bring everyone together and put their heads together. You need everyone’s input and expertise to get the best outcomes. Start with a design charter that outlines the key goals for the design, such as power, cost, performance, reliability, and so on.
If you have multiple teams working on PCB designs, get them all together in a collaborative design environment like FabLib. Each team can work in their own context on their own designs and then load them into the FabLib environment once they’re done. This way they’ve got the freedom to work in their own tools while still seeing the bigger picture of the entire system.
Engineering processes are constantly improving, but quality assurance remains a core part of engineering disciplines. Successful products are only as good as the quality of the design process. From the start of the design process, make sure that each engineer is responsible for their parts of the circuit design. This way, every aspect of the design is reviewed and checked before it’s sent off to fabrication.
This includes checking schematics, circuit diagrams, and calculations. Once electronic boards are in the production phase, make sure you have a full checklist for the board’s inspection, inspection of the board’s data integrity, and testing of the device’s performance.
In order to improve your PCB design process, you need to find a better way to get your job done. It’s tempting to try to automate as many processes as possible, but that can backfire when your automation doesn’t work. Instead, find a better way to get your job done and use automation to free up your engineers to focus on design and problem solving.
Each process you improve will streamline your PCB design process and give your company a competitive advantage. With automation, engineers can spend more time designing and less time managing work processes.
Now that you know how to improve your PCB design process, you’re ready to apply these tips and get more from your process. Use these tips to help streamline your design process and get your board designs turned around faster. Read more…