Making sure your circuit board is manufacturable by PCB assemblers

We have seen a variety of board designs presented to us for assembly and have experienced quite a few issues with some of them. Occasionally it makes the board nearly impossible to assemble at all. Here are the absolute minimum requirements for it to be manufactured by machine at all.

  1. The board must fit in the machine. Check the size limitations. If the board is too small, the problem is solved by panelising. If it is too large, you need to either find a different manufacturer that can handle it or try to make your design smaller. We can handle boards between 50mm X 50mm and 250mm x 500mm.
  2. There must be sufficient clearance for the board to be transported through the machine. Any components that are too close to the edge cannot be populated by machine. Either add tooling strips or just keep a good margin along the edge. We recommend 10mm tooling strips to allow for panel fiducials to be located at least 5mm from the edge.
  3. Files are provided to us with the correct data. I will go into more detail elsewhere on this, but we need the centroid data (including for the fiducials) so that the machine knows where to place components and which components to place there. We need the bill of materials that lists components, including their package types so that the machine knows what the component and its pads look like. The gerber files provide other essential information, such as the board’s manufacturability and the orientation of parts.

For more information, contact us for a free copy of our tips on design for manufacture.

Author: Sandra Bogerd

Music: composer, singer-songwriter, recording artist, conductor Language: author (A. L. Uitdenbogerd) of the Gnomeville comic book series for absolute beginners in French Work: Director of R&D and assistant manufacturing engineer for Agile Electronics; RMIT associate with computer science research interests in music, language, and HCI Business: co-director of Ad Hoc Software Pty Ltd and Agile Electronics.

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