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72 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I MAY 2021 Anyone who has visited a PCB manufac- turing facility should have been amazed not only by the speed of the operations, but by the accuracy of the equipment dedicated to form- ing physical parts out of raw materials using design data. A tour through a fabrication facil- ity may begin in the raw materials department. From there you may take a stroll down the aisle of a high-speed PCB drilling department and then traverse the building over to the plating and etching operations. Perhaps you will move on to view the large-scale lamination press area where the operators "stack" the processed layers for insertion into a massive press which uses heat and pressure to laminate the separate layers of the PCB together into a single unified board. roughout a tour such as this, your eyes will see, your hands will feel, and your nose will smell things that a large percentage of the PCB engineering community has never expe- rienced. You will be learning to use all your senses and therefore retain much more knowl- edge and understanding. Your value as a PCB engineer will increase because you are reach- ing out to understand the jobs and processes of the important stakeholders of the PCB product. You will observe that the operators of the machinery do not specialize in every manufacturing process. You may notice that, about their jobs, our manufacturing counter- parts are very attentive to meeting the design and manufacturing specifications for a partic- ular task. ey check their equipment. ey measure and provide feedback to manage- ment and adjust their machinery as required. ey are dialed in. We in the PCEA salute our fellow PCB manufacturing stakeholders and consider the PCEA a place for us to join to collaborate, edu- cate, and inspire each other. A significant point always jumps out at me at the end of a manufacturing facility tour: Our manufacturing stakeholders take a great deal of time training and then executing their day- to-day processes and not a single process step moves forward without inspection, measure- ment, and adjustment. Our manufacturing community stakehold- ers are measured, evaluated, trained, and re-trained on different incoming job require- ments most every day. I must ask of those who are involved in designing and engineering printed circuits: At what point are you required to adjust because your design will not move on to the next step of manufacturing? Who facilitates your train- ing and re-training? Who is measuring and evaluating you? As a PCB designer myself, I reflect deeply and sincerely on these questions oen. Aside from an automatic design rule of checking in our soware which we have likely set up to suit our perception of what our other stakeholders need, it is very likely that a holistic measurement for success in our task of laying out a printed circuit assembly will not be avail- able for weeks or months—not until the design is built and moves on to production. It is very likely that we will not receive all the impor- tant feedback because the PCB manufactur- ing industry takes no pleasure in complaining about our design deficiencies. Unfortunately, it is sometimes considered bad for business. At PCEA, we seek to contribute to a design and manufacturing culture which considers that the burden for the measurement of our PCB engineering skill set is on each of us individu- ally, and upon our organization. We feel that an important key to PCB engineering success is to support education of the PCB design commu- You will be learning to use all your senses and therefore retain much more knowledge and understanding.

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