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62 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I AUGUST 2020 Feature Interview by Andy Shaughnessy I-CONNECT007 When discussing fab notes, there's a lot of focus on what designers should and should not include in the package. But what is the role of EDA tools in this process, and can intel- ligent data formats streamline the tasks and help eliminate fab notes that are less than fan- tastic? In this interview, Pat McGoff, market development manager for Mentor, a Siemens Business, speaks frankly about fab notes and what EDA tool companies like Mentor can do to automate this process. Andy Shaughnessy: What do you think are the biggest problems that PCB fabricators face regarding designers' data packages? Patrick McGoff: The biggest problem with the designer's data packages is the confusion they often cause. Like other contract suppliers, PCB fabricators make every effort to be as accom- modating as possible in terms of what kind of design data they will accept. I can remem- ber when fabricators would take in a scanned image of a PCB and digitize it to reproduce the board. Today, when we say, "Send us the Gerber files," what we are really saying is "Send us the Gerber, drill, and netlist files, along with drill drawings, route drawings, stackup drawings, and notes," and that's just for the fabricators. Contract assembly providers need even more data and information. The problem with this legacy approach is that there are frequently discrepancies between the various files. The netlist file or drill file often does not match the Gerber data because they came from different systems and might not even reflect the correct revision of the design. Shaughnessy: When there are problems with the fab notes and other data, what is the typi- cal process that the fabricator goes through to resolve these issues? How does that impact the job? McGoff: When a fabricator sees a discrepancy in the data provided, or if there is incomplete information, they put the job on hold until it can be resolved. The problem is that the deliv- The Role of EDA Tools in Creating Fab Notes

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