Printed circuit board design

Printed circuit board design

When I founded the company in 2012, I already had more than twenty years of circuit design experience. In fact, this love of printed circuits began in the early years of high school. Computers were not widespread at the time, we drew master films to make printed circuits. The first program I used for circuit design was a chip design program called Smartwork that could be used under DOS. Since then, the technology has evolved a lot, and today almost every circuit we design has a high degree of integrity and includes surface-mounted components. The basics of our work are described in the IPC-2221A standard, which is also used consistently throughout the design process. In addition to the standard, the manufacturability parameters are what determine the framework during the design work, and of course the most important regulator: the customer’s request. Standards and rules help our work as long as there is no customer instruction on the issue. As a rule of thumb, the customer’s instructions may even override the standards if necessary. Of course, when this happens, we will clarify this with the customer before starting the work.

During our PCB design work, we typically have to communicate with the customer several times. In the first step, we create a sketch plan. In this case, you can already see the main dimensions, the location of the connectors, sensors and the most important parts. The customer can approve this or request changes.

When the arrangement of the parts is decided, we arrange all the parts in their near-final position. In this step, we set up the rule systems in the design system according to the expected production technology.

The next step is wiring. For simpler panels, this is typically 2-4 layers, but in many cases we have been lucky enough to work with panels above 6 layers. Thanks to modern PCB manufacturing technologies, creativity can be limited only by the budget of the order. Just to name a few professional curiosities:

  • design of buried and blind vias: when via is drilled only between certain layers, not the whole panel

  • HDI: Laser-drilled micro-vias for high-density design

  • Aluminum substrate: The substrate is a plate with good thermal conductivity, especially for LED luminaires. Of course, we can not only design this, but also implement it.

  • rigid-flex: some parts of the mucus are rigid and others are flexible

  • impedance matched: for high speed and radio frequency panels, many rules must be followed during design for proper operation. One of these is impedance matching design and fabrication, which takes into account the materials and layer orders that the manufacturer can use and designs the circuit so that the sensitive parts provide just the desired impedance by the end of fabrication.

Although the PCB design itself is only a part of the overall design process in general, it is one of the most important subtasks. It gives the designer tremendous creativity, I dare say it is one of the most enjoyable parts of the creative process.