When building electronic circuit boards, design integrity must be maintained throughout the PCBA development process. Each stage of the design⇒build⇒test (DBT) process should reflect the designer's original intent. To accomplish this, your PCB design software should include the functionality and capabilities that enable you to incorporate all necessary data and information into the design file(s) or package.
The origin of PCBA design integrity
Incorporating Intent Into the Design Package
The best PCBA designs do not only meet performance requirements. Instead, the best board designs incorporate the designer’s intent by translating the design and all necessary support data to the CM in a format that promotes manufacturability while maintaining the integrity of the original design. The degree to which these objectives are realized lies with your CM and the establishment of a symbiotic relationship, as well as with the PCB design software utilized and its capabilities.
Accurately transferring design intent to your CM is a critical aspect of optimal PCBA, which is the defining step of the board manufacturing stage. As such, assembly serves as the final qualifier for the state of your board build and is responsible for ensuring your design requirements are satisfied. Assembly, as well as the entire manufacturing process, is most efficient when an open, transparent and collaborative environment exists between the developer and CM. This is known as white box manufacturing, and it depends on the availability, ease of acquisition, and adherence to your CM’s DFM and DFA rules and guidelines.
Additionally, design integrity relies on the design software used to create your design file(s) or package. The disparity in functionality among different EDA programs is likely wider than you think. While most programs today include basic functions—such as symbol and landing page creation, back annotation between board and schematic designs, auto-placement, and auto-routing—advanced capabilities that allow you to aid your CM are often not available.
Choosing PCB Design Software to Meet Design Integrity Requirements
Be sure that the following essential characteristics are present in your PCB design software to facilitate the translation and incorporation of design intent:
Essential PCB Design Software Features for Design Integrity
- Real-time component information
One critical area for design integrity is optimal component selection. Absent this information, delays and post-development design changes are possible.
- Comprehensive component library import
Although the ability to create new component symbols and landing patterns is essential to EDA functionality, it is equally important that your software implements comprehensive PCB component sourcing guidelines.
- Easy/simple DFM and DFA import
- Real-time DRC
Most of the leading CMs will automatically perform DFM checks on your design package. However, you can augment this process by checking design rules during design. If you can perform these checks in real-time, you can correct errors before they become entrenched and difficult to trace and identify.
- Forward and back annotation
The ability to instantaneously have changes or corrections reflected in both the schematic and PCB layout is an invaluable tool for creating efficient designs.
- Circuit analysis capability
Many of the leading EDA programs today suffer from not having extensive circuit analysis capability. Board simulations that provide PDN information or thermal distribution are very useful; however, advanced circuit analysis that enables performance testing is a distinct advantage.
- Digital twin viewing
The use of digital twin technology is finding its way into the PCBA design process. This 3D perspective allows for the identification or discovery of potential problems and issues before initiating manufacturing.
- Panelization design capability
Another way to preserve design intent and aid your CM is to consider panelization during design—if the capability exists with your software.
The utilization of the features listed above will go a long way toward maintaining design integrity throughout the development of your PCBA design. Even if your program does not possess this entire range of functionality, the more of these capabilities you can utilize, the closer your built board will be to your original concept.
|Tempo's Custom PCB Manufacturing Service
Tempo Automation, the industry leader in fast, accurate PCBA manufacturing for prototyping and low volume production, is committed to incorporating design intent into your boards. To achieve this we employ a white box manufacturing process that is based on open, transparent access to your board’s status along our digital thread.
And to help you get started on the best path, we furnish information for your DFM checks and enable you to easily view and download DRC files. If you’re an Altium Designer or Cadence Allegro user, you can simply add these files to your PCB design software. For Mentor Pads or other design packages, we furnish DRC information in other CAD formats and Excel.
If you are ready to have your design manufactured, try our quote tool to upload your CAD and BOM files. If you want more information on PCB design software essentials to promote design integrity, contact us.