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58 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I OCTOBER 2019 you put in those files will determine the final outcome, so perform design rule checks before you convert. Just because your soft- ware will let you design a board in a certain way doesn't make it easily man- ufacturable. Keep manufacturability at the forefront as you set up and perform your design rule check before converting to Gerber. By confirming the number of board layers, proper spacing, drill hole to size and place- ment aspect ratio, spacing, and proper toler- ances, you can be assured you are indeed de- signing a board that can be built by your man- ufacturer without delays or errors. Some man- ufacturers even offer a set of DRC settings that can be added directly to your software, saving you the time and effort to create these rules. By taking these into consideration early in the process, you are building the quality right into your PCB. Assuming your manufacturers are prioritiz- ing quality and you are producing files that are compatible with their process, look for other production elements that are important to you. Does the manufacturer have the capacity and capability to build your board as designed? Without the right technology, equipment, pro- cess, and key personnel, you might not get a quality product, and you might not get it deliv- ered on time. Quality PCBs require the best materials. Manufacturers sourcing cheaply not only pro- duce a mediocre product but they can also leave you in a lurch with respect to safety. Make sure your manufacturing partner can de- liver a UL-marked board that confirms its safe operability. The UL mark tells you that the boards have been carefully monitored and will with- stand thermal stress without failure, within reasonable limits. UL certification will give you confidence that your boards can with- stand temperatures required for soldering, as well as some rework, without delamination or decomposition. You can also be sure your PCBs will not catch fire under reasonable, and sometimes even unreasonable, operating conditions. This is an important safety con - cern if your boards will be used in a commer- cial product. Since no two projects or boards are exactly alike, you will need different levels of support for each. Look for partners with multiple ser- vice levels. Sometimes, you just need a quick turn for proof of concept or a fast prototype run to keep an established manufacturing pro- cess moving along. In other cases, like new product development, more collaboration can help you get the job done right the first time. Once you submit your design to your cho- sen manufacturing partner, it is incumbent upon them to execute and deliver your boards. Hopefully, you have chosen one that has a proven track record for quality and on-time delivery and a demonstrated passion for your success. DESIGN007 Bob Tise is an engineer at Sunstone Circuits. To read past columns or contact, click here.

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