How could I have missed that?...
One of the most frustrating things to experience as an engineer is getting a new board back from a CM and opening up the box, only to find a mistake. The solder mask could be incorrect, or the non-plated holes came plated. No matter the issue, errors like this are especially galling because they are so obvious when you can see the physical board. This type of error is actually more difficult to catch than may be expected because CAD programs and Gerber viewers unintelligently display each layer on top of one another. This can hide how the layers will interact in the built fabrication.
Today Tempo releases the new Fabrication Simulation, which solves this issue by creating a manufacturing-aware representation of the PCB. The simulation shows a photorealistic view of the outer layers including silkscreen, soldermask, surface finish and top or bottom copper. This gives you a intuitive view of the board as if it was in your hands. In short, now you get to build your board before you buy.
Copper/Soldermask Interaction: Preliminary soldermask expansion and copper/mask interaction can reveal incorrect exposed copper or solder mask relief.
Drills: Drill locations and layer data is integrated into a single view revealing alignment issues and plating specifications.
DNP Callout: DNP data from the BOM is overlayed on top of the CAD data and displayed with a pink dashed box for easy review.
Silkscreen: Silkscreen is shown with simulated printing artifacts and automatic clipping over vias and pads. This enables engineers to check for legibility and optimize silkscreen placement locations.
Supported Platforms: The Fabrication Simulation will be available for all new quotes, with the exception of EAGLE, KiCad, and other Gerber-only CAD tool exports. Simply request a new quote and you will receive a link to preview your Fabrication Simulation before placing an order.
The Unbroken Digital Thread
The Tempo Fabrication Simulation is a core component of the unbroken digital thread that extends all the way to the factory floor. This simulation is used throughout the process of DFM, production setup, and QA so all the operators are working from the same validated data. This prevents miscommunication errors and allows for faster throughput.
We are excited about the release of Fabrication Simulation because of how it leverages the power of Tempo’s software automation to unify traditionally disparate manufacturing data into an easy to understand visual preview. It would be nearly impossible to produce this view with the manual processes that exist in much of the industry. Our software simulates the specific material layers that make up the PCB and intelligently overlays the component placement information from the BOM. Fabrication Simulation is the next iteration in Tempo’s vision to create a transparent, high-fidelity PCB manufacturing experience. Plus, it makes some pretty cool pictures!