Book Review: The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to…Executing Complex PCBs


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Our world would be a better place indeed if every PCB designer and design engineer in the industry read The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to…Executing Complex PCBs by Scott Miller, chief operating officer of Freedom CAD Services.

This book is an absolute must-read for the designers and design engineers of today. If you don’t think this book is important and timely, all you have to do is check out the facts on the very first page:

  • Only 25% of complex design projects are released on time without resource surges
  • 17% of all projects are canceled
  • 30% of complex projects are released on time with project surges
  • Lifecycle Insights reports that a typical board project goes through 2.9 re-spins with an average cost of $44,000 per re-spin

freedomCADbook300.jpgSo, now do you understand why we need a book about design guidelines for complex PCBs? I cannot think of a better person to write this book than Miller. Freedom CAD is North America’s largest independent design service company, with over 50 designers in a number of locations across the country; they see more designs annually than any other company in the market today.

If you are serious about designing complex PCBs (most designs today are far from elementary) and even more serious about doing it right the first time, then this is the book for you. Loaded with guidelines for designing cutting-edge PCBs, this book is filled with real-world examples and tips, tricks, and techniques by some of Freedom CAD’s most experienced designers.

For example, Miller provides a solid definition of a complex PCB, including the following characteristics:

  • The density of component pins exceeds 110 pins per square inch
  • The density of component parts exceeds an average of five pins per component
  • The number of pins of any BGA exceeds 800
  • The pitch of the pins of any BGA is less than 0.8 mm
  • The thickness of the finished board exceeds 3.0 mm or less than 5.0 mm
  • The circuits require mixed technology of digital, RF, or analog
  • The board will require mixed materials for construction
  • The finished board must be cost-sensitive for high-volume construction
  • The board needs to be finished in less than normal process time
  • The boards must have a lot of electrical constraints

Using these criteria, Miller uses three past projects (real projects) to exemplify the design of high-complexity PCBs, taking the reader through a comprehensive, step-by-step journey at what it takes to design a complex board. Miller also highlights the importance of communication; with complicated designs, PCB designers must communicate with both the customer and fabrication house. Further, Miller explains planning through the design kickoff, including an important chapter on design rules simulations and analyses (I found Chapter 5 to be the book’s “money” chapter), quality assurance and manufacturability, and post-layout processes.

Chapter 5 is very valuable because it’s where the rubber meets the road in terms of connecting the design to the fabricator. This chapter has a detailed list of what the designer has to pass on to the fabricator. I was pleased to read that Freedom CAD goes to great lengths to make sure that they deliver that ever-elusive perfect data package to the manufacturer who will be building the boards. I would urge every design manager to encourage their designers to read this chapter. In fact, I would urge every fabrication house to send the link to this book to every OEM and design bureau that they work with.

Download your free copy of The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to…Executing Complex PCBs today! You can also view other titles in the I-007eBook’s full library.

Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.

 

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