One of the most important aspects of electronic product design is the PCB layout. For this reason, Advanced Circuits offers PCB Artist, a professional-grade PCB layout software that is free and lets you create up to 28 layer PCBs and use its library of over 500,000 component to easily incorporate into your PCB. When you use PCB Artist to create your printed circuit board layout, you are able to place your fabrication order directly through the software, making it easier to transfer your layout files to us for manufacturing knowing your design will be produced as intended. If you are designing a printed circuit board for the first time, here are a few general tips that will help you get the perfect layout.
Check Manufacturer’s Tolerances & Capabilities Before Getting Started on Your PCB Layout
It may be best to review your PCB manufacturer’s capabilities and manufacturing specifications to set up your PCB layout software accordingly before you start. If you already have a completed PCB layout and would like to check that it meets all manufacturing requirements, you can use our FreeDFM tool to upload your Gerber files and run a manufacturability check within minutes. You will receive a detailed report of any manufacturability issues found in your PCB layout delivered directly to your inbox. Each time you run a PCB layout through the FreeDFM tool you also receive a discount code to use on your PCB fabrication order with Advanced Circuits for up to $100 off.
Determine the Number of Layers Needed for Your PCB Layout
It is important to determine the number of layers needed for the PCB layout that will best fit your application and functionality requirements. While more layers can help accommodate more complex designs and functionality with a smaller footprint, keep in mind that more conductive layers can also increase the cost of production.
Consider Space Requirements for Your PCB Layout
Calculating the physical space that your printed circuit board layout can take up is key. Depending on the final application and requirements, space can be a limitation and cost driver as well. Consider more than just the space needed for the components and their tracks, but also the circuit board mounting requirements, buttons, wires, and other components or other circuit boards that are not part of your PCB layout. Estimating the size of the board from the beginning can also help you calculate the cost of production.
Identify Any Specific Component Placement Requirements
One of the key steps in the circuit board layout process is knowing how and where to place your components especially when the location of a specific component is mandated by factors outside of the functionality of the circuit board itself; for example buttons or connection ports. At the beginning of your circuit board layout process, you should make a rough plan which will detail where the major components will be placed, this way, the most convenient design can be assessed and used. Try to always leave at least 100 mils between components and the printed circuit board edge and begin by placing components that require a specific location first.