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48 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I MAY 2022 Feature Interview by Andy Shaughnessy I-CONNECT007 Optimum Design Associates President Nick Barbin has worn a lot of hats in this industry, from PCB designer to EMS company owner. We asked Nick to share his thoughts on what it's like to design in a vacuum, but some strate- gies for escaping the vacuum. Andy Shaughnessy: How oen do you design a board without knowing who is going to fabri- cate and/or assemble it? Nick Barbin: As a PCB design service provider, we are generally not always privy to this infor- mation unless we ask, and at Optimum, we do ask. It's not so much that we care about the "who" aspect; it's more about being in align- ment with the specific manufacturer's capabil- ities to ensure we are providing a design that meets our customer's objectives for cost and reliability. is is especially important in the case of fabrication shops where capabilities tend to vary dramatically and can result in the shop requesting to modify the artwork to be able to meet the specifications called out. Shaughnessy: Why do so many designers not know who is going to manufacture their boards? Barbin: In the case of fabrication shops, once an OEM has qualified multiple vendors to build their boards, purchasing departments will consider that part number a commodity item, since it is generally one of the highest-cost items on any given bill of materials (BOM). In some cases, the OEM allows the commod- Designing in a Vacuum Q&A: Nick Barbin Nick Barbin

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