PCB Layout: Best Practices for Fabrication & Assembly

Quality and manufacturability in printed circuit boards are only possible with a superior PCB layout. Tempo’s engineering expertise in circuit board design support, including readily available and multi-format DFM, helps electronics OEMs like you develop PCBAs that are fully manufacturable through both fabrication and assembly. Partnering with Tempo’s PCB engineers ensures your circuit board’s manufacturability and reliability throughout its entire life cycle.

The best PCB layout aligns design intent with CM DFM guidelines.

Utilizing PCB Layout Best Practices for Efficient Circuit Board Fabrication and Assembly

Your product line needs to meet specific performance criteria in order to satisfy customers' requirements. Here at Tempo, we know how to lay out and build boards to the highest quality standards—guaranteeing their manufacturability and exceeding performance standards in the process. Together, our partnership can produce the results you’re looking for in high-quality PCB fabrication and assembly.

PCB Layout Best Practices

Designing a printed circuit board for full manufacturability requires that you follow PCB layout best practices. Tempo’s engineering team has worked with electronics developers in multiple industries and has the expertise you need for your PCB design. We’ll review your design with you, identify any issues with circuit layout and part selections, and offer recommendations to improve the manufacturability of the board. Here are some specific areas of design that our engineering team can help you with:


PCB Layout Software

There’s a big difference between various PCB layout tools, so it’s essential to understand what these design systems offer before settling on which one to use. Some features in design systems can potentially boost your productivity; however, a lack of essential functionality can simultaneously slow down or inhibit the design cycle. Essential features include schematic and layout editors, design rule checking, automated trace routing, and many others you can find listed here:

IPC Through Hole Standards

Although through-hole components are not as commonly used in circuit boards as surface mount parts, they still play an important role in electronic development. Through-hole connectors, switches, and other interfacing parts are much more mechanically robust. At the same time, high-powered circuits use resistors, capacitors, and other components that are only available in a through-hole package. For design success, it is essential to understand the industry standards that govern the use of through-hole components in a circuit board, such as IPC standards detailing how through-hole parts can be used in PCB layouts.


PCB Layout Recommendations for BGA Packages

One of the more complex surface-mount packages that PCB designers work with is the ball grid array. These parts can contain hundreds of pins and are available in various pin pitches, making their placement and routing challenging. For success, designers must follow specific rules to ensure the manufacturability of the completed circuit board. At Tempo, our engineers can assist you with recommendations for part choices and layout configurations.

Differences Between Single-Ended and Differential Signals

A PCB layout can include various circuit configurations such as power, ground, digital, analog, and transmission lines. Properly laying out transmission lines on a circuit board can be done in two ways—via single-ended routing or differential pairs. Single-ended routing is more straightforward but susceptible to external noise interference. Routing differential pairs can be more complicated in that matching the two lines of the pair must be exact, but they're often more robust and yield better performance. Understanding these differences is crucial for any PCB designer.


PCB Layout Guidelines for Power Supply

Electronics need power, which can be generated by power conversion circuitry on a circuit board or by an external power supply. Either way, PCB designers need to understand the requirements of working with high-voltage and current circuits for safety and clean power generation. Tempo engineers have years of experience helping designers refine their power supply designs and can offer suggestions to aid you as well.

PCB Layout Tips for Manufacturing

Designing a circuit board for successful manufacturing requires specific instructions to follow. Circuit board designs that neglect to do so often exhibit problems during PCB fabrication and assembly. These steps to success include choosing suitable circuit board materials for the board’s application and configuring the layer stackup accordingly. Many other necessary PCB layout steps should be followed as well.


PCB Fiducial Usage

PCB manufacturers use automated machines to place surface mount parts on a circuit board during assembly. To properly locate these parts, the pick and place machines rely on markings designed into the board known as fiducials. PCB fiducials are necessary for panel alignment, global board position, and individual part locations. Familiarizing yourself with fiducials and how to use them are crucial.

PCB Layout Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to PCB layout, the importance of following design rules for manufacturability can not be overstated. A well-developed set of DFM rules is essential for producing circuit boards that are fully manufacturable and can help you avoid common PCB layout pitfalls. For example, mismatched footprints, drill sizes that violate hole-to-board thickness aspect ratios, and neglecting to add silkscreen reference designators can all lead to costly mistakes. There are other PCB layout mistakes that designers must avoid, too.


Leveraging Tempo’s PCB Layout Experience and Automation Tech for Your Next Design

Utilizing PCB Layout Best Practices for Efficient Circuit Board Fabrication and Assembly

At Tempo, we understand circuit boards, PCB layouts, and the challenges designers like you face every day when developing new and innovative electronics. Our engineering team can help you with critical design decisions, such as component selection for performance, availability, price, layer stackup configurations, and sensitive circuitry. We also have a powerful array of automation technology available for you to use during your PCB layout process, including downloadable design rule information in many CAD formats.

Our goal is simple: to rapidly and efficiently manufacture printed circuit boards without fabrication or assembly problems that can slow down production. To that end, we are committed to helping all of our customers with the best design practices for PCB layout.

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