Oops, I Did It Again: Survey Details Most Common Design Errors

Reading time ( words)

Michelle_Te_300.jpgWe hate to admit it, but even the best of us make mistakes. Such is true with PCB designers and design engineers. We wondered: What are the most common mistakes that PCB designers make?

Since no one likes to admit they make mistakes, the I-Connect007 Research Team sent that very question out in a survey. Sometimes it just feels better to remain anonymous. There’s a little more truth there.

Your responses to the survey, we found, could be divided into three categories: failures/errors, changes/improvements, and time to market. And just for fun, there’s a miscellaneous category, but more on that later.


In what our team categorized as failures/errors, there was a wide range of responses, including “electrical functions wrong,” “part obsolescence,” “noise,” “thermal failures,” “minor design corrections,” and “performance not met.” Others cited errors with engineering, circuit design, schematics, design faults, software issues, and simply, “dumb mistakes.”

Many other respondents recognized the need to make changes and improvements. Some comments included: “Adding new functionality,” “changes in product specification,” “layout improvements,” “dimensional/shape adaptation due to altered design on housing,” “evolving requirements, learning as you go,” “out of sync with mechanical model because of last-minute changes,” “EMV improvements,” “needs for change identified during testing,” and “mechanical changes (enclosures, mounting, etc.).”

Still others responded that errors occur because of time or time-to-market. They listed these conclusions: “Short schedule limits detailed checking,” “new, unproven designs,” “rushing to production,” and “not taking the time to perform analysis of design up front.”

And finally, there were miscellaneous responses that didn’t seem to fit the above. They had to do with PCBA alignment, footprint issues, not fully appreciating mechanical tolerance chain, reducing cost, optimization, manufacturing issues and solder mask, and panelization.

If you’re a designer or work with designers, you likely recognize some of these issues. But what is to be done? In upcoming issues of Design007 Magazine, you’ll read more about these issues along the path to continuous improvement.

If you’d like to comment on a particular design error, please reach out to Editor Andy Shaughnessy and share what works or doesn’t work for you.

The I-Connect007 Research Team is just one component of the I-Connect007 Team, fully committed to the most extensive coverage of the global printed circuit board, assembly and PCB design industry.



Suggested Items

Just Ask Heidi Barnes: The Exclusive Compilation

01/15/2021 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
We asked for your questions for Keysight Technologies' Heidi Barnes, and you took us up on it! We know you all enjoyed reading these questions and answers, so we’ve compiled all of them into one article for easy reference. We hope you enjoy having another bite at the apple.

TTM’s Approach to Stackup Design: Train the Customer

01/12/2021 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
In this interview with the I-Connect007 Editorial Team, TTM’s Julie Ellis and Richard Dang drill down into stackup design, detailing some of the common stackup challenges that their customers face when designing for both prototype and volume levels, and offering advice to designers or engineers who are struggling with stackup issues. They also discuss why having too many different prepregs in a stackup can be asking for trouble, and how proper stackup design can optimize both the fabrication and assembly processes.

Cutting Respins: Journey to the Single-spin PCB

01/07/2021 | Chris Young, The Goebel Company
PCB design is more than a short sprint to the finish line; it is a journey best suited for the prepared adventurer. According to a study by Lifecycle Insights, the average PCB design project requires 2.9 respins. These respins can cost anywhere from tens of thousands to millions of dollars—each! As an engineer/business owner, I find respins frustrating because I would rather spend my time and money applying scientific principles inventing, improving technology, and solving problems. I am not an advocate for perfectionism, but rather I focus on becoming a better adventurer. Sometimes I get to taste the sweet wine that is a single spin PCB. As fellow adventurers, let’s discuss some topics that influence unnecessary return trips on our PCB design journey: simulation, technical reviews, and interest in PCB design.

Copyright © 2021 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.