What is Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Design?
A Printed Circuit Board is a rigid or flexible backplane that retain and interconnect all electronic components that are part of an electronic circuit. A PCB is created from a graphical circuit design called a schematic and components are then arranged on a board layout. PCBs are an integral part of any electronic product and optimizing the size and cost of PCBs are important to make the product reliable and affordable.
1. Schematic Capture
This process takes care of drawing a graphical representation of the circuit, called a schematic. Designing a schematic is called schematic capture. Every electronic/electrical component has a unique symbol to identify them from the schematic. Each component will have their pins numbered and labelled. These pins are connected to other components via lines of different forms. The schematic will also have a netlist which is the information that conveys what components are connected to where. This is what used to create a PCB. The schematic can also be printed on a paper for references.
2. PCB Layout
Once the schematic is complete, the netlist will be used to create a physical PCB design. Each component on the schematic will have their physical layouts called footprints. The components are inserted/placed on these footprints and soldered. PCB design takes care of placing these footprints on a desired layout and connecting them using tracks. The board layout or shape can be anything according to the mechanical design of the electronic product. A PCB can have one or more conductor layers. Once the design is finished, files suited for manufacturing can be exported. The files required for fabricating PCBs are called Gerber files.
3. Fabrication File Generation
Gerber files, along with other files are sent to a fabrication house for production. The fab house will check and verify the design (DFM check) to determine if it conforms with their manufacturing capabilities. Sometimes you have to communicate with the fab house to out any design issues. We usually take care of this process. Once the files are approved, the fab house will give us estimates on production time and cost. The fabricated PCBs are undergo many types of quality inspection stages such as optical testing, X-ray testing, flying probe testing etc. We can work with all types of manufactures from all regions to get you the least turnaround time.
4. Automated PCB Assembly (PCBA)
PCBs have to assembled with their components to fully test them. This can be done manually or automated. Automated PCB Assembly (PCBA) uses machines to place components on the multiple PCBs at a time and solder them together. This saves time and cost for production as the machines can do the assembly processes much faster than humans. A different set of files are required for automated PCB assembly. We also take care of generating fabrication files and sending them to the assembly house. We also help you choose components with the lowest price and long production life.
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