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68 PCB007 MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2020 Article by Terry Hoffman TECHNICAL LEADER, ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AT CISCO SYSTEMS Detailing the Problem Printed circuit board fabrication and assem- bly have been around since the 1950s. Since that time, major advancements have been made in materials, processing, and CAD tools. With the ease of creating PCB layouts today, anyone can get a PCB made. However, the manufacturing processes limit what can be built by PCB vendors and assembly manufac- turers and we have to be concerned with PCB and PCA DFX (design for manufacturability, test, assembly, etc.). Unfortunately, since the 1950s, not much has been done to help with communicating DFX is- sues between the designers and their manu- facturing partners. Those original DFX issues were likely communicated using redline draw- ings and other written documents and draw- ings. With the internet came text-based emails. Today, we use modern office tools like spread- sheets and word processors, sometimes saved as PDF files, attached to emails. These tools commonly require human entry or translation of data which can lead to mistakes and mis- communication. We continue to use emails with attachments today to communicate DFX waivers and ap- provals. The Ideal Solution It would be great if the electronics indus- try could not only automate the collection of the DFX data, but also put the data into a for- mat that could be easily read and processed by design and project management tools. This would remove the need for a human to trans- late the data, eliminating human errors during entry and translation. An automated process would allow for a database to be created with tasks automatically assigned to different job functions. This would also ease the approval of, rejection of, and commenting on individu- al waivers. IPC-2581 Rev C Solution IPC-2581 Rev C enables the industry to im- prove the DFX processing and communication by creating an open standardized format us- IPC-2581 Rev C Accelerates NPI Figure 1: An illustration of the communication process.

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