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38 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I MAY 2020 Designer and fabricator communication—es- pecially for high-speed PCBs—should be a bi- directional "thing." It is so easy for a designer to say, "Just build this," and hand over a chal- lenging design to a fabricator who could have performed better with some preliminary con- versation or dialog before placing the order. Materials always matter when it comes to PCB fabrication; however, as designs progress and industry changes and morphs, the PCB materi- als or specific material characteristics that im- pact the day-to-day lives of designers, fabrica- tors, procurement specialists, and PCB technol- ogists change. Characteristics that could safely be ignored in the past may now creep up and trip you over—catching you unaware—and yet other characteristics that may have been criti- cal on legacy products may only have a second- order influence on your PCB specification and the chances of it performing as expected. Depending on design requirements, a design- er has a choice to entrust material specification to their fabricator or to lock down the materi- als far more rigidly before ordering or perhaps somewhere in between where only critical lay- ers are deployed with mandated materials (Fig- ures 1 and 2). Important in guiding you through this are the specialists in the PCB base material supply industry, which has transformed from an in- dustry with only a selected handful of material choices to a whole range of suppliers provid- ing a complete gamut of materials with a range of purpose. This adds complexity and perhaps confusion as designers, fabricators, procure- ment specialists, and technologists work to- gether to select appropriate base materials. Most material suppliers will have OEM teams whose aim is to guide you towards the correct base material or family of materials. The Pulse Feature Column by Martyn Gaudion, POLAR INSTRUMENTS Communicating Materials From PCB Design to Fabrication Figure 1: Virtual or generic materials (Report: Polar Speedstack).

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