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What is the process for making a new PCB?

Updated: Apr 30, 2023

PCB design expert can assist you in assembling a top-quality PCB catered to your specific technological needs. A PCB designer will provide an in-depth analysis of your device’s requirements to ensure your product has the support necessary to excel in the competitive tech market. They’ll have access to all of the latest software and are well-versed in the best design strategies.

Once you have a PCB designer and you’ve gotten them up to speed on your project requirements, there are a few steps they’ll go through. Here’s a quick overview of the process.

1. The schematic for the circuit is designed.

First, a designer will create the schematic. A schematic is a crucial step before designing the board itself and should never be overlooked. A schematic is like a roadmap for a circuit, containing a series of symbols that represent aspects of the circuit: switches, resistors, diodes, nodes, and more. This is also helpful later on for troubleshooting any issues with your PCB.

2. Using EDA (or, ECAD) software, the board design is laid out.

After the circuit design is captured in a schematic, it’s translated into an electronic design automation (EDA) software package like Altium Designer, KiCAD, Eagle, Allegro, or ExpressPCB. The design has to be exported into an industry standard format (e.g., the Gerber format, the default “language” used to describe PCB components). The resulting file acts as a set of instructions for the production phase of a PCB.

3. The PCB is printed, fabricated, and assembled.

Once you have a Gerber or CAD file, you can manufacture your PCB. The dimensions of the PCB—along with how many layers it will be—are decided, and all of the components are positioned, ground, and laid out, and signal traces dictated by the Gerber file. There are different requirements for different boards, so your PCB designer will be able to tell you whether you need surface mount (SMT), thru-hole, single- or double-sided fabrication, and more.

If you’re looking to rapidly prototype a PCB, using a 3D printer is an efficient way to whip up designs and test them on the fly.

4. Test a PCB for functionality.

Finally, white-box testing will make sure your PCB is structured properly once it’s been fabricated. The goal here is to test every possible output to ensure the PCB is functioning as the designer intended it to. Compared with black box testing, which only tests inputs and outputs without looking at the specifics, white box testing focuses on the each possible pathway of the PCB to make sure there are no failures.

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