Whether you are a beginner or a vet to PCB design world, there are several common mistakes that may occur that will make your PCB fabrication troublesome. This list will help you get an understanding of some of the most common issues that designers run into and how to avoid them.
Creating a successful PCB design requires that the user understands every component going into the PCB. This includes having schematics of any ICs, selecting the proper components in the PCB design software (0603 vs 1206, THT vs SMD), and knowing how much power is needed to run each component. Spending more time to look over your design and ensuring that each component will function properly will be the biggest factor in not having to redo a PCB design thus not wasting resources and money. Having a third-party design review is highly recommended.
Setting Design Rules
Picking a manufacturer for PCB boards is extremely important. Understanding the limitations and tolerances of a manufacturer will be important for how reliable your PCB will be. Most PCB manufacturers will have minimum PCB size and dimension tolerances on their website. You can input these specs into your PCB design software to ensure that they fit with the specs that the manufacturer can supply. This includes minimum track width, clearance between traces or holes, via diameter, and via drill diameter. Using the design manager can show any rules that were broken during the PCB design process.
Components that draw high currents can have issues with thin trace width. The minimum trace width generally can handle a couple of milliamps but will run into issues with heat and reliability. To combat this, you can design the PCB with a thicker trace for higher current drawing components. There are a handful of free software to calculate the necessary width needed for your application. (Trace Width Calculators) Another thing to note is that external traces have better heat dissipation due to the closer contact to the outside air.
Picking the right trace length will allow for properly functioning components. High-speed signals like in most microcontrollers and high-frequency crystals need the shortest and straightest path. When placing components in any PCB design software, keeping components that need to be connected close to each other are recommended so that traces can be as short as possible.
Ensure that decoupling capacitors are near the power pins to ensure the best efficiency. Whichever pin needs a stable voltage should have the decoupling capacitor as close as possible.
Free Useful Software
Trace Width Calculators
PCB Design Software
Vinatronic’s expert staff is glad to help you on any design issues you may run into and has a network of tried and true board fabricators from all over the world. One manufacturer may be better suited for your board’s specific use and we are happy to connect you with the right one. Contact us today for a free consultation.