The Benefits of Using Digital Twins in PCB Design

December 17, 2020 , in Blog

For most of us, the experience of welcoming a new addition to the family is a nostalgic moment that will remain with us for our entire life. Interestingly enough, parents are roughly evenly split about revealing the sex of their pending newborn. There are practical reasons why this peek into the future may be helpful. For example, to buy baby clothes, toys or design the nursery. But some people like to be surprised!

Unfortunately, when developing circuit boards the last thing you want is to be surprised. Surprises with PCBAs typically take the form of failure modes that only become evident during manufacturing or worse, during operation after being installed. Many developers implement a design checklist for manufacturing process optimization to avoid such contingencies. However, a better alternative is the use of a digital twin that can address most manufacturing issues before a single board is spun. 

Let’s define and explore this option with an emphasis on quantifying the benefits of digital twin design to build higher quality, more reliable boards.  

Example of PCBA digital twins

How to Incorporate Digital Twins into PCBA Design

For PCBA development, a digital twin can be defined as follows:

The digital twin of a PCBA is a software-generated perfectly representational 3-D 

circuit board design used to identify errors that threaten manufacturability and

potential risks to board quality and reliability.

There are many advantages to using digital twin technology for PCBA development. For example, comprehensive monitoring and control that is used to optimize QA and risk management. Currently, only the most advanced software-based processes; such as Tempo’s digital thread manufacturing, utilize this technology for building electronic circuit boards. 

As the robustness of PCB design software has increased, functionalities, such as 3D visualization and real-time manufacturing design rule checking (DRC) have been added to the more comprehensive packages. DRC can be tailored to include your CM’s DFM and DFA guidelines. When used properly, these tools simplify a CM’s process and improve board development efficiency. A paradigm for enhancing your design process to take advantage of the benefits of digital twin technology is shown below. 

Steps for Digital Twin PCBA Design
1 Acquire DFM and/or DFA rules from your CM.
2 Integrate your CM’s DFM and/or DFA into your program’s DRC utility.
3 Design your board layout according to your CM’s PCB tolerances.
4 If there are errors go back a step and correct all errors. (Depending on the complexity of your board, this may require that you address errors individually, running your DRC after each as additional errors may be created.)
5 If no errors, generate your design package for your CM.

When creating or redesigning your PCBA layout, it’s vital to make the best use of your CM’s PCB tolerances for optimizing manufacturability and maximizing benefits. 

tolerances for optimizing manufacturability and maximizing benefits.  

The Benefits of Digital Twin PCBA Design for Development

The utilization of a digital twin during board design depends to a great degree on the optimal use of your CM’s DFM guidelines. A fab-sim is not a substitute for your CM’s pre-manufacturing review, but it can greatly aid the development process and yield significant benefits.

Advantages of Digital Twin Design for Board Development

  • Faster quote turnaround
  • Reduced number of prototype iterations
  • Faster board bring up
  • Improved production yield
  • Lower development costs

Tempo Automation leads the industry in producing reliable high-quality PCBAs faster. This is due to our software-based process, which includes proprietary board and BOM verification before fabrication, advanced robotics and automated assembly and testing equipment. 

To help you implement fab-sim, we furnish information for DFM checks enabling you to easily view and download DRC files. Altium Designers or Cadence Allegro users can simply add these files to PCB design software. For Mentor Pads or other design packages, we furnish DRC information in other CAD formats and Excel.

If you’re ready to have a design manufactured, try our quote tool to upload your CAD and BOM files. For more information on the benefits of digital twin design for your board builds, contact us.

Tempo’s Software-Driven Smart Factory Delivers the Industry’s Leading Custom Turnkey PCBA Manufacturing Services
  • Virtual PCBA Contract manufacturing.
  • Rapid, accurate quotes.
  • DFM support from Day 1 of design.
  • Digital Thread Processing with real-time monitoring.
  • Fastest turnaround times in the industry to maximize ROI.
  • QC certified Agile Manufacturing process to support risk management.
  • Standard and Advanced QC testing.
  • Worry-free supply chain continuity.
  • Specialization in rapid prototyping and low-volume production.
  • PCBA development optimization for complex critical system industries like Aerospace, Medical Devices, Automotive, and Industrial.

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