There is a growing need for printed circuit board design and layout in many industries:
- Communications and Information Technology
- Military and defense systems
- Medical devices
- Consumer goods – from appliances and toys to security systems
Industrial electronics have also generated demand for new printed circuit board development due to the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT has created new capabilities for manufacturing machinery to communicate via electronic sensors, even notifying maintenance teams or operators when problems are detected or service is needed.
Printed circuit boards (PCBs) and other electronics are a primary product of San Jose and the Silicon Valley. PCBs of every size, type, and function are produced for a wide range of industries.
Printed Circuit Board Services in San Jose
Developing printed circuit boards is a complex and multi-phase process, requiring sophisticated software tools, experienced engineers, and continuously-evolving technology. New materials and components are introduced regularly, as new products create the need for:
- Higher performance
- More complex circuitry
- Miniaturization of components and PCBs
- High-strength, low-weight devices
Printed Circuit Board Layout
San Jose PCB designers and manufacturers must offer various services to provide leading-edge designs and products to clients. Among these services is PCB layout.
PCB layout involves the design of how components required for the circuit will be structured for the board. This in itself can be a complex phase of PCB development, including multiple factors:
- Component placement: How to most effectively place each component, avoiding any incorrect placement that could cause conflicts or undesirable impact to the circuit’s performance or operation.
- Routing: Efficient routing of the circuit (vias) between components, including the path through boards that may contain dual-sided or multi-layered surfaces.
- Verification: Using PCB layout/design software, preliminary analysis and testing of the circuit can be performed before the board is manufactured.
PCB layout is a critical phase of board development. Correct initial layout saves time in PCB design and avoids potential problems in operation after construction. This can save considerable time and cost in redesign to correct such issues.
Board Level Design
San Jose electronic engineering services working with board level designs have numerous factors to consider when designing circuits for a new board or product:
Type of board
Will the circuit require a single-sided, double-sided, or multi-layer board? This decision will affect the design significantly in how routings/vias will be performed for the board’s components.
Multi-level boards add complexity and introduce the need for additional analysis and testing of designs. Layers also impact the manufacturing process and cost of the board due to the complexity of fabricating boards with multiple (even many) layers. Also referred to as “stack-up,” the properties of multiple layers are an important element of the board’s construction during the design phase.
Traces that provide the conductive properties of the board are important considerations for board level design.
Does the substrate material require flexibility, or is a rigid material more in order for this board level design? Board core materials (substrates) can vary widely in printed circuit boards. Materials used will impact the quality of the final product, including the board’s lifespan, reliability, and performance.
Via Types and design impact
Vias are the method that allows connectivity between board components. There are multiple types of vias, each with its own properties and design considerations:
- Through-hole vias: Connections are made through holes between layers.
- Blind vias: Holes access an interior layer from an exterior layer, but not through the entire board. Once the board layers are laminated together, these vias are invisible, giving them the “blind” designation.
- Buried vias: Vias that are maintained within layers of the board with no route to the exterior layers are referred to as buried vias, since they cannot be seen from either the top or bottom layers.
- Microvias: These are the most common vias in today’s modern board level design. Microvias can reduce the number of layers in the PCB design and allow for higher density in via routing. Microvias also provide a better platform for miniaturization, ideal for devices such as smartphones.
Using high-quality and time-proven components contribute to board reliability and performance. There are millions of components available to PCB design engineers, making effective selection a key factor in the end product.
The principle of Design for Manufacture (DFM) also plays a role in board level design. If a design will work, but requires costly and complex manufacturing processes, it may not be economically feasible, or the manufacturing error rate may not be acceptable.
Integrity of power and signal
Electronic performance such as signal rise and fall times, impedance, and others should be evaluated through simulations and testing results to ensure quality and performance.
Regardless of how efficient, sophisticated, and technically advanced the PCB design may be, if it exceeds the budget, it may not be acceptable. All aspects of the design that influence cost must be considered to provide a viable product.
Boards that may be expected to require maintenance or repair in the future should consider that characteristic in board level design, to permit easy access to components for replacement or upgrades.
When designing a printed circuit board, PCB prototyping is a valuable step for San Jose electrical engineering businesses for thorough analysis of the design. What appears to be a solid design and reliable configuration may prove to have serious problems in performance, quality, or consistency in practice.
Manufacturing a prototype PCB is the most effective way to prove the board functions as specified with no circuit conflicts or defects.
SunMan Engineering Does It All
SunMan Engineering is your one-stop shop for all your printed circuit board needs. Our engineers have the experience to take your project from concept, to prototype, to finished product. We’ve been producing high-quality results for our clients since 1990, and we can do the same for your company.
Make SunMan Engineering your electronic engineering resource in San Jose. Contact us today to discover how our engineers will transform your concept into reality.