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50 The PCB Design Magazine • January 2015 As the chief PCB designer resident within a company that manufactures circuit boards, Greg Albers has unusual insight about how fab- rication and assembly processes ought to influ- ence design. In his position at Sierra Circuits, he's often asked by customers to recast designs that would be tricky to build as submitted, in addition to taking projects from schematics for- ward to achieve optimum yield. Albers' career spans 30 years, including stints within several major OEMS—among them a network card supplier and a manufac- turer of computers and smartphones—before joining the company. He's designed thousands of boards. I asked him to pass along some basic PCB design tips, simple reminders based on the path he treads to ensure the best outcome from a manufacturing perspective. A Few Words to the Wise First of all, Albers emphasizes, engineers and designers should understand the unique relationship between the fabrication process, design rules, and the costs of different design ap- proaches. The easiest and definitely the cheap- est way to accomplish that is through consul- tation with the intended manufacturer at the stackup stage. Although practically any design can be built, determining up-front the architec- ture that will result in the best yield should be the objective, certainly for volume production. Designers who take into account ahead of time how boards are built can save a good deal of money, and that economy extends beyond just fabrication charges, including fast manufactur- ing turnaround at the front-end and heightened product reliability in the field. DESIgN FOR MANuFACTuRINg column by Amit Bahl SIerrA CIrCuITS Tips Every Designer Should Know

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