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PCBD-Mar2015

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20 The PCB Design Magazine • March 2015 signer is, at least officially, to produce the best possible board design that we can. But realisti- cally we have a lot of hats to wear, and one of the most difficult is to serve as arbitrator. We are the no man's land between two superpowers at war with each other: design requirements and manufacturing requirements. It is our job to come up with an amazing board design that satisfies both sides of this struggle. So let's look at how we can best serve that purpose. Design engineering is usu- ally a combination of electri- cal and mechanical engineers. Although these two groups can have their own dramatic conflicts between each other, they will usually end up work- ing together because they ul- timately serve each other's needs. But the manufactur- ing engineering requirements usually come from a com- pletely different department or from an outside manufac- turing vendor. To put it sim- ply: The design team will prob- ably be much more concerned that their design is functioning as in- tended as opposed to how it gets built. On the other hand, the manufacturing team's concerns aren't the function of a design; it's making sure that the design fits their criteria so that they can build it. This doesn't mean that either one of these groups are the bad guys. But they each have important needs that we circuit board de- signers have to meet. In my career, I have spoken with a lot of people at many different companies, and I have found that the adherence to manufacturing requirements in board design is vastly differ- ent from company to company. On one end of the spectrum are those companies who don't pay much attention to manufacturing require- ments. These designs are usually generated in low numbers, so yields aren't the primary con- cern. Whether the boards are simple or very critical, their applications are typically limited and therefore unique. Because of this, there of- ten is little in the way of manufacturing require- ments as a lot of this work ends up being done manually instead of with automation. Then, on the other end of the spectrum are those companies whose designs will be pro- duced in high volumes. The manufacturing requirements here are usually very high, as the key to cutting cost is to automate the process as much as possible in order to reduce overhead and in- crease yields. And then there are all the other companies that are in between these two extremes. Many of these "in-between" companies will even use different levels of manufacturing require- ments depending on which customer that they are work- ing for, and/or which vendor will be used for which proj- ect. So, the first thing that we can do to help out the rela- tionship between design and manufacturing engineering is to improve communications. Often the board designer is the focal point between these two super- powers, which gives us the perfect opportunity to facilitate a productive environment where both sides can work together. I know that it is tempting to want to avoid conflict altogether and bury our head in the sand and just route traces. But ultimately our goal should be one in the same: To produce the best design possible that will generate the most success for our com- pany so that we can all move on to the next project in a continual pattern of growth. So let's get these two sides communicating instead of fighting against each other. And let me state the obvious here, just be- cause we get them talking doesn't mean that there still won't be some conflict. No, there will still be issues that have to be worked out, and sometimes with a lot of debate. But getting the two sides working together on these issues is a much better solution than allowing problems to fester until upper management is forced to DFM: ThE PCB DESIGnER AS ARBITRATOR continues the design team will probably be much more concerned that their design is functioning as intended as opposed to how it gets built. on the other hand, the manufacturing team's concerns aren't the function of a design; it's making sure that the design fits their criteria so that they can build it. " " feature

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