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As experts in the manufacture and assembly of printed circuit boards, we work to make our blog a helpful resource on PCB topics and the industries that we work with, including automotive, consumer electronics, aerospace and many more. Here you'll find insights into PCB design, tech trends, assembly issues, and trending topics in the general news media as they relate to printed circuit board technology.

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Circuit Board Design: Avoid These Common Mistakes

Advanced Circuits’ CAM engineers provide a detailed review of each and every one of our customers’ circuit board design files for peace of mind and a smooth manufacturing process.  We also offer a free online tool, FreeDFM™, to check your Gerber files for possible manufacturability issues prior to placing your order.

Below, we have compiled a short list of common mistakes to look out for in your Gerber files.

Sending Circuit Board Design Files Without Aperture List

Unless you are using Gerber274X format files, you will need to provide an Aperture List for your circuit board design.  Gerber274D format does not automatically include Aperture List information.

In order the manufacturer to create the artwork needed for your circuit board design, make sure a comprehensive aperture list for all layers is included in your Zip folder with English units and make sure to not modify the list exported by your software manually as this may cause issues.

All circuit board design software that can output in Gerber274D format will also output the Aperture List with one of the following common file extensions: .rep, .apt, and .apr.

Missing Drill File for Your Circuit Board Design

The Excellon Drill file is used to determine the size and location of each hole in your circuit board design (both plated and non-plated holes included in one file).  Most PCB layout packages are able to generate this file, but in case you are not able to, our engineers may be able to create it from your fabrication drawing for an engineering fee.

A Tool List should be embedded in your drill file or it can also be sent as a separate .txt file.  The common Tool List extension are .tol and .rep.

Ensure Your Circuit Board Design’s Annular Rings Meet The Minimum Size Requirement

The annular rings are the ‘donut” shaped area of the a connecting via or a plated thru hole.  There is a minimum size requirements for the width of this area that is often missed.  The minimum Annular Ring should be 0.005″ for vias and 0.007″ for component holes.  Setting the Annular Ring to to conform to these requirements in your circuit board design software is the best way to avoid violating the minimum requirement for manufacturing.

Circuit Board Design With Insufficient Copper Trace Width/Spacing

Make sure there is enough air space between two adjacent copper features.  The minimum spacing requirement for manufacturing is 0.005″, but keep in mind that a premium is charged when the spacing is less than 0.007″ as this takes additional precision and labor.  You may set up your circuit board design software to maintain this minimum requirement throughout the design.

Ensure Sufficient Inner Clarence Throughout Your Circuit Board Design

Not having sufficient spacing between the edge of a hole and internal copper may cause shorts.  To avoid issues caused by insufficient inner clearance, a minimum of 0.010″ space between the internal copper feature and adjacent drill hole is required, but 0.015″ is proffered.

Click the links below for more tips on circuit board design:

 

 

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