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PCB-Feb2014

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12 The PCB Magazine • February 2014 by Ben Jordan altium F e a t u r e Recently, I've been doing a bit of investiga- tion to find out what really needs to happen to get a good turnaround on designs—from idea to a working board, that is. There is a more pressing need than ever for ECAD vendors to do some close work with PCB fabricators, but it seems that ECAD vendors have a complete dis- connect. I think that CAD tool vendors in gen- eral have done a fantastic job of making design easier and faster, but there is still a huge gap between what a PCB designer intends, thinks, and lays out in CAD and what a PCB fabrica- tor needs in order to build and assemble the boards with reasonable yields. It's one (good) thing to support universal data transfer for- mats, but that's not an automatic fix-all, either. What I'm really talking about is DFM. Over the years, IPC has made efforts to fix this disconnect. This is why the current CID and CID+ programs have an emphasis on DFX. For those unfamiliar, DFX means "design for x", where x = manufacturing, assembly, and test—together we call it Design for eXcellence. The thought process here is that if PCB design - ers are trained to know the materials, process- es, steps and limitations of a PCB fab, then they will inherently know how to design the PCB to be "manufacturable." Part of this also is the classification of PCBs based on complexity and producibility levels. Of course, the designer then has a new job as a kind of mediator between engineering management, product marketing, and the fab: having to laboriously explain why the product they are working on cannot be designed the way marketing wants it, or why moving a but - ton one inch to the left will cause the product assembly costs to significantly rise. It's a big ask for designers to have to bear in mind all the fabrication and assembly processes, and then have to turn around and put these practical limitations up against the wants of other stake- holders. If I were hiring designers, I would limit my search to CID-certified people for this rea- son alone. Yet, in a sense, this is like having a

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