How to Avoid PCB File Errors
A reliable, experienced printed circuit board supplier knows that errors in PCB files can cause big problems, and also knows how to avoid them. This article offers several tips for ensuring the accuracy of PCB designs, plus some common mistakes to look out for.
A good working relationship between the customer and PCB supplier is vital to the success of any project. Costly design errors and delays in manufacturing can be prevented by discussing details in advance. Communication is the key to avoiding PCB file errors.
One way to make sure that what was intended is what will be produced—and that it will work—is to include a .readme text file that explains details which might not be readily interpreted from the Gerber and drill files.
Including a mechanical/outline ensures an accurate quote and timely production start. Like the text file, this is something which should not be skipped.
Common PCB File Errors
It’s all too easy to design something that cannot be built or will not function properly once it is built. Here are some PCB file errors to be on the lookout for:
Drill Size – If drill holes are smaller than required, there will obviously be problems. If holes are too large, component mounting might not be possible or might require excessive soldering.
Overlapping Drills – Overlapping can break the drill, resulting in an unusable section of the panel. Re-designing and re-drilling will cause unnecessary delays.
Edge Tolerances – Ground planes and circuit traces that are too close to the edge of the board, or to openings, could cause accidental shorting with metal chassis and cases.
Solder Resist Pads – Sometimes the solder resist layers contain extra pads or have missing pads as a result of design errors. Extra pads can result in exposed traces and other problems, so it is important to catch these errors prior to manufacturing.
Incorrect Landing Patterns – PCB design software contains libraries of commonly used electronic components, which include both the schematic symbol and the landing pattern of the PCB. Using components not in the libraries requires the engineer to draw them manually. The result can be mistakes in the landing pattern. Less than a fraction of a millimeter’s difference in pin spacing can make soldering the part on the board impossible.
If you are careful to entrust your design to a company with a proven track record of unparalleled precision and customer satisfaction, PCB file errors will not be an issue.