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AUGUST 2020 I DESIGN007 MAGAZINE 33 Shaughnessy: Do you all advertise your capa- bilities? Because that's one of the things we've heard: Some board shops don't want to put out their capabilities because they're afraid it's IP that's going to help their competitors. Thompson: We absolutely do. We have a capa- bilities matrix, and we talk about all of the things that we would need to build a circuit board. Matties: From what we hear, the fab notes are a problem, and there's no good solution. Is there a lack of incentive since you fix all their mis- takes anyway? Thompson: It really comes down to time and training working with a customer. I've worked with some customers for over 23 years, and some of those customers will send us precisely what we need every time. Some of them that are relatively new will send us the wrong data almost every time. Matties: What is the benefit of sending data correct the first time? Thompson: We sell time. Matties: But there's more than just time, right? If you were to make a pitch to a designer on fab notes and why they should provide 100% accurate on-time to you, what would that sales pitch be? Thompson: It could be a number of different things, such as time to market, for instance. If you work a new project and need time to mar- ket, you must ensure that those fab notes are accurate because if they're not, you're going to get boards that aren't going to perform for you. Shaughnessy: What would you recommend to somebody who's a brand-new designer as far as creating fab notes? Thompson: I've said this before, but consult your chosen fabricator and ask them to assist you in the generation of the fab notes. Now, having said that, only the customer ultimately knows what their performance characteristics need to be for that particular board. There are many hidden things that the customer may not tell us, such as heat considerations. Signal integrity is just one small part of it. And maintain- ing controlled impedance is easy. Fabricators can do that day-in, day-out. But where it becomes difficult is those things that they don't tell us that they need on their boards that they will not divulge due to NDAs or other reasons. Matties: It's a big topic with a lot of room for improvement. Thompson: Exactly. Matties: Thanks so much for your time, Mark. We appreciate it. Thompson: Thank you. DESIGN007 To read past columns or contact Thompson, click here. Thompson is also the author of The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to… Producing the Perfect Data Package. Visit I-007eBooks. com to download this book and other free, educational titles.

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