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Prepare to Submit a Prototype PCB Design for Manufacturing

If you need upgrades, two steps in the PCB manufacturing process are necessary. Realizing you have the need for a new PCB design and formulating a prototype for that design are the first two steps. Though these steps consist of many smaller steps, you may overlook the key points that you need for submitting the prototype designs for manufacturing.

Here are some of the things you need to have in place before submitting your design.

Schematic Design

The first thing you want to have in place before you submit your PCB prototype for manufacturing is the schematic design. The schematic design acts as your blueprint for your PCB. The design helps you see where your circuits connect, the path they will follow, and allow you to make any changes you need before the schematic goes to manufacturing.

In addition to the design helping you see the blueprint, you also can see where problems may be present. For example, as you move through the design process, you will begin to do system checks on the design. By having the blueprint, you can easily see where existing issues are happening. You can also make corrections and try the system check again before manufacturing.

The schematic design can be developed from current PCB’s that you have in operation. For example, you may have a PCB in operation that works well for your business. The issue may be that you want to add some processes to the PCB or you want to change the flow of the process. You can use the original PCB design as part of the schematic, making the changes you need to the schematic design.

Component Storage

When you design your schematic, you need to have a component storage. The component storage is where your documents for each step of the PCB design will store. This is also where you will pull the files that will go to the manufacturing company. Consider the following when you set up and work with your component storage.

The first consideration with component storage is having the right file folders. You will need the schematic library, PCB library, integrated library, and the content vault. Keep in mind, you do not want to skip this step. You will be asked for the files from those specific libraries at specific times during the schematic to manufacturing transfer.

The schematic library holds .schlib files. These files are the basic building components of the PCB you have in mind. The PCB library includes all of the electrical elements you need for the PCB prototype. The files are stored locally as .pcblib files.

The integrated library holds all models and symbols used in the schematic. Finally, the content vault stores all the information in the cloud for easy access by you and manufacturer of the prototype.

If you are unsure how to set up these files, or if you are unsure about the process, you can have your manufacturer handle this for you. In many cases, the manufacturer will have an additional fee in place for this setup and service. Keep in mind, the schematic itself is still necessary.

File Reading Process

One of the major issues that delays the PCB manufacturing process is when your files cannot be read. This can be due to several issues from the file type to the way the file was written. With the following tips, you can avoid this delay in your process before your manufacturer receives the files and the schematic.

One of the ways you can avoid file reading issues is to have your IT department run through the files. They can ensure that all the files are readable and that the text transfers as it should. They can also let you know if the file extensions are correct and make those corrections if necessary.

These steps can be done with a simple check of the files even if the IT technician does not have specific background in the PCB building process.

Keep in mind, if major errors are found then you may have to change your deadline. For example, your IT technician may find that some of the files are mislabeled.

When they rename the files or correct the file extension, it could cause further issues with reading the file. This means the file may need to be totally rewritten. If this is the case, you will need to go back, rewrite the file, and ensure that the file passes all of the readability checks again.

Have these key things in place before submitting your prototype design for manufacturing to reduce delays in development. You can also prepare yourself for any issues that may come up and work through those issues quickly to ensure you meet the deadline you have in place.

When you are ready, contact Streamline Circuits. We can assist you with the steps and answer any questions you have about your PCB needs and manufacturing.