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Design007-June2019

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30 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I JUNE 2019 Where will this PCBA be manufactured? What types of equipment will be used? What are the potential volumes? What is the envi- ronment in which the PCBA will operate? How about that materials list—are we sure all of the parts are available? It all begins with de- sign and to me, designing with the end in mind means putting all of the parts together in an organized way which would facilitate meeting all of the PCB performance and manufacturing constraints. But in the past, I found myself waiting for the blanks to be filled in. The project timelines began to slip and I had not even begun place- ment of any of the parts. Slap! (Figuratively, of course.) I vowed to never again find my- self in the awkward position of having nothing to show at the end of a project timeline. "I'm waiting on…" is never a good strategy. Cor- porate management folks who report to stock- holders would rather show a poorly designed PCB progress as opposed to no PCB at all. "The end" is filled with a myriad of details which must be considered in order to do a good job of putting the Design in our DFX acro- nym. Sometimes the design constraints at the start of a project appear fuzzy or nonexistent. Sometimes, even during the project, the goal posts change width or distance. There is rarely a perfect scenario in the world of project time- lines, communication and time-to-market con- straints. One obvious question: "How can you design for something you can't see?" You can't, but you must. At the start of a project, unknowns will exist. You must develop the attributes of a detective to anticipate potential fallout from the unforeseen and use practical techniques to design around them. Times have changed. We used to hear a great deal about the benefits of products that were "designed from the inside out." Back when au- tomobiles were the size of large boats, we often saw ads featuring a human silhouette poised in a comfortably seated position. Roominess and comfort seemed to be the selling point of these ads. Bigger was better back then. The Rise of the Industrial Designer Today, smaller is better, and industrial de- signers typically have the first say on the over- all size, shape, texture and color of a product. Products are rarely designed from the inside out now. Over time, advancements in mate- rials and technology have offered enhanced capabilities within increasingly smaller and smaller packages. Now, I have spent a great amount of time writing and speaking about how important it is for PCB designers to consider all of the down- stream stakeholders of a PCBA project. I like to think of design as the hub of a product's success; we must consider the needs of all of our manufacturing stakeholders downstream. If the PCB incorporates all of the DFs—design for manufacturability, design for cost, design for test, etc.—then the product is sure to be a success, right? Well, the industrial designers of today may be akin to the fly in the designers' proverbial oatmeal. These folks are creatifs whose design methodology cannot always follow the consid- erations of DFX. They often work directly for the inventor. Their job is to conceptualize and please the inventors, their marketers and their investors. When marketing wants the product smaller, the industrial designer can whip out a pastel marker or tap out a keystroke using some artistic software and shrink the hell out of the package envelope to the applause of the inventor while in total disregard for the unfore- seen challenges they may be creating for their downstream PCB stakeholders. "Shrinkage" was an unfortunate, unforeseen problem featured in the 85 th television episode

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