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24 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I JUNE 2019 Feature Interview by Andy Shaughnessy I-CONNECT007 During SMTA Atlanta, I spoke with Albert Gaines of HiGain Design. We discussed Al- bert's belief that everything starts with design and that too many engineers and designers fo- cus solely on the final board at the expense of the documentation, which is a designer's most important product. Do you consider your doc- umentation to be a critical product? Andy Shaughnessy: Albert, you are the found- er, chief cook, and bottle-washer for HiGain Design. A minute ago, we were talking about how everything in electronics manufacturing really starts with design. You had an interest- ing point about some things that designers and design engineers sometimes neglect to consid- er early in the cycle. Albert Gaines: I've been doing board layout since '81, and I came through the drafting side of it. Documentation was our product. I think most engineers today lose the concept of the fact that the final product is not the prototype. They finally have it working, but they think they're through. But their product is documen- tation—the Gerber package, ODB++ package, testability, assembly drawings, and all of the firmware. That documentation and traceabil- ity of that documentation is their product—not what's sitting in the test lab. Shaughnessy: How did we get to this point? I'm sure that there are people who have been do- ing this for 30 years and have never looked at the documentation as their final product. Gaines: A lot has changed over the years be- cause we've had a shift to where more EEs are doing more board layout, and we don't have documentation departments in companies. Ev- erybody is running freelance in their own cubi- cles. Nobody is enforcing what the documen- tation has to be. Ultimately, you end up with a board shop or an assembly house with a big void, wondering, "Am I going to get this data, the IPC-356 netlist, or the bare testing of the board? Or am I going to get an ODB++ for pick- and-place? What am I going to get? Do we have to recreate it after the fact?" Shaughnessy: We always joke about how the designers get blamed for everything, but this sounds like one of the things that designers need to be aware of; it's more about the docu- mentation than anything else. Albert Gaines: Design All Comes Down to Documentation Albert Gaines

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