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12 The PCB Design Magazine • August 2017 Gaudentiu Varzaru POLITEHNICA UNIVERSITY OF BUCHAREST Not long ago, I answered Editor Andy Shaugh- nessy's "Whose Fault is That Bad Board?" survey. When I answered the first question ("If a board fails in the field, whose fault is it, typically?"), I was disappointed that he used radio buttons in- stead of check boxes. I did not want to blame only the designer for every bad board in the world. Did Andy want me to name the ones who are most often blamed? Who are these designers? PCB designers are like magicians; they can materialize an idea from a piece of paper, and many of them are also the creators of the product. And designers create many jobs. Their projects may have gaps, but I would not blame designers for all the bad boards. They are the first to be blamed because they take the first step in the product's life cy- cle. They can make mistakes too, but sometimes their fault is having too much confidence in the people who follow up on their work. I know an American entrepreneur who went to Poland to open a PCB design bureau. He found painters and architects for hire, but not many engineers; he was very pleased to find many electronic engineers here in Romania. But are all engineers qualified to be great PCB designers? Year ago, I held a position in an EMS com- pany where projects were analysed before send- ing them to be produced on the assembly lines. We found that even some of the best and most innovative circuits could not be manufactured. Why? Because the PCB designer, an electronic engineer, was not acquainted with the fabrica- tion process. He had no idea about technologi- cal requirements necessary for electronic pro- duction. Here is a funny story: I know of one de- signer who learned, finally, the importance of the thermal relief pad for heat restriction dur- ing reflow for a good soldering. His response? "Oh, was that what they were for? And to think I worked so much to remove them!" FEATURE

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