Advanced Circuits, Inc. (ACI)

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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Printed Circuit Board Design Tips For Beginners

Printed circuit board design is never an easy process, but you can always count on Advanced Circuits to help you at every step of the way.  We provide free tools that can help you identify issues in your printed circuit board design and design files before you submit your order for production.

FreeDFM is our free online software that identifies possible manufacturability issues in your design by simply uploading your Gerber files to our online portal.  Within minutes, you will receive a free graphical report of any issues found via email and you will also receive a discount code for up to $100 off your next circuit board order.

PCB Artist is another great tool that Advanced Circuits offers that is absolutely free.  PCB Artist is our professional-grade printed circuit design software that was developed to make it easy for customers to create their design and submit it to us directly from the software for production.  Click here to learn more about our printed circuit board design software and download the complete software package.

The quick tips below may help make your printed circuit board design process easier and help you save on costs associated with fabrication and PCB assembly.

Become Familiar With The Manufacturer’s Printed Circuit Board Design Specifications & Requirements

Manufacturers have specific requirements regarding trace spacing/width, layers count, internal/external copper weight, among many other specifications and requirements for the fabrication of your printed circuit board design. Checking the manufacturer’s website will be a great place to start since you can access most of the necessary guidance and resources online.  Advanced Circuits makes it easy to find all the information you need online and our live support team is always available to guide you through this process.  A quick way to get started is to check our Standard & Custom Spec chart for a glance at our capabilities and services.  You can also download a PDF copy of our complete capabilities list here.

When Possible, Keep Your Components On The Top Side Of Your Printed Circuit Board Design

If it is possible, having the components on one side of the printed circuit board may help you save on costs, especially during the PCB assembly process.  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. Also, when you add components, you should consider using the snap to grid option in your PCB design software and space the components evenly horizontally and vertically avoiding component orientations that are not 0 or 90 degrees. If you’re looking for a good value, staying within a minimum of a 5mil trace/space will be best.

Integrating Signal Traces In Your Printed Circuit Board Design

Be sure to make the signal traces as direct and short as possible on your printed circuit board design. You can use vias to move signals in between layers. A good practice is to lay out the board with horizontal traces on one side and vertical traces on the other. Your signal trace width can be smaller in general, ideally you want to have a trace width for signal traces of 6-10 mils.

Avoid 90 Degree Trace Angles In Your Printed Circuit Board Design

The reason why these are problematic is that their outer side has a greater potential to be etched narrower when compared to the regular trace width. As time goes by, this could lead to shorts. You should consider replacing these with 45-degree angles instead to deliver the same results you need without any of the downside.

For more tips and helpful resources, please visit our PCB Engineering & CAM Resources page on our website.  There you will find more in-depth information about our capabilities, tolerances, CAM procedures, stack-ups/controlled impedance, and more.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our support team via email or by calling 1-800-979-4722.


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