Designer’s Notebook

Duane BensonCheck with your EMS each time before sending your BoM.

Most of the electronics design world is by now aware we’re in a very serious period of component shortages. Ceramic capacitors seem to be the hardest hit, but other passives, as well as a variety of connectors and silicon parts, are also caught up in the shortage storm. Allocation and shortages hit every few years, but this one seems the worst in recent memory. It could be a problem until 2020, and the supply chain and world of components manufacturers will likely be a different animal coming out of it.

So, you might ask, isn’t that just a problem for high-volume producers? No, I would answer. It affects anyone, regardless of volume. The exact way it hits and what you can do about it may vary, but it has, or soon will, hit all of us.

Read more: Top 5 Ways to Mitigate Component Availability Problems

A co-design solution for a wireless RF flip-chip design dilemma.

Read more: RF Module Shrink

Andy BujaSolving for EMC issues within the layout is as important as completing DRCs.

When it comes to design rule checks for PCB designs, some should be performed that are just as important as spacing rules. Strict adherence to basic PCB design rule checks, such as track to track, track to via, via to via, pad to track etc. – though necessary to avoid short circuits – only scratch the surface when trying to identify potential design flaws. I often see PCB designs that are completed based on this premise and wonder what else could be hiding in the design?

DRC rules covering the verification of min and max length of routed critical signals like clicks and strobes, as well as skew differences in multi-bit buses, are as important as metal spacing rules. If the minimal skew is not achieved, the PCB design will be scrapped just as easily as if shorts resulted in burning holes in the PCB during power-up.

Read more: EMC = DRC²: The Importance of EMC Rule Checking

Duane BensonNewer intelligent CAD output files reduce errors.

Manufacturing is all about taking data from the designer and delivering good working circuit boards. Well, it can be just data – as in full turnkey – or data plus some parts and or PCBs, as in a partial turnkey or a kitted job.

Regardless of whether parts and boards are sent, or if the EMS procures everything, your manufacturing partner needs good data, and a lot of it. That data are the difference between the working boards you want and need and a random jumble of expensive paperweights.

As an EMS, we need a bill of materials (BoM), the job specifications (which you give us by ordering and describing any special instructions on our website), and the CAD design files. Fab and assembly drawings are always a good idea, too. A little extra time spent on the files sent reduces risk, and that’s a very good thing.

Read more: Electronics Manufacturing Files: What We Need

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