Historically, many who performed layout were often referred to as connect-the-dots guys. This was a perception that jokingly referred to the simple connection of two pins on any given circuit. However, anyone who has ever attempted to solve a complex layout with thousands of parts and interconnects knew that this was a skill set that only few true masters have accomplished. And with all the miniaturization of micro-BGAs and the constructs of HDI the term, "Layout Solvability" represented a packaging skill-set that was comprehended by few and mastered by even fewer.
This by itself was not a complete description of those who practiced this profession because there has existed a time-old saying, "You can design almost anything, but can you build it"? And this must be followed-up by asking, "Can you build it in quantity, with quality and reliability"? This concept has a widely known acronym of "DFM" (Design For Manufacturability) or the newer version of that acronym of "DFX" (Design For eXcellence).DFX is achieved by an ongoing pursuit of learning the requirements that have been adapted throughout the industry and captured by IPC standards. Therefore, most professionals that perform layout seek to attain their CID & CID+ credentials. As a Master Instructor for IPC through EPTAC, SDPCB's founder Mike Creeden has sponsored our designers to pursue these certifications and practice these principles in our customers designs.
The other consideration that must be addressed was the circuits performance on many levels. Back in the day, electronics was considerably more forgiving as circuits performed slower in the DC fashion. But with the advancement of high-speed circuitry that is occurring in the industry, electronics are performing in a manner where the layout plays a critical role in the circuits performance with issues such as: EMI, Power Delivery, Signal Integrity, Thermal, Shock/Vib. and others. So, the questions raised in the last two paragraphs now needed a third question to be asked and answered. If you can solve the dense layout and you can meet DFX standards by building it in quantity, with quality and reliability, can you also now ensure that the layout will support the performance as desired with full functionality? This understanding and implementation for performance is accomplished at SDPCB by our pursuit of higher education, experience and teamwork.
These perspectives must also be supported by on-going effort and pursuit for each designer to be a master of the different licensed software tools we support. This multi-pronged perspective has been the guiding principle at SDPCB since it's inception as a company. As we at SDPCB and the Milwaukee Marketing team put this to print, we decided to bring this to IPC and the Design Standards Committee. And it turns out, there existed little to no standing definition for the Professional Layout Designer. Our definition was recommended and accepted by the IPC Technical Advisory Committee to be added to the Design Standards. It is our hope that this will serve the industry at large, as we have seen it serve our customer base. We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute and support all efforts of IPC.
The following overview describes what are the core knowledge and competencies to best serve in the role of PCB Design Layout as a stand-alone professional, or as the engineer performing this responsibility. Today's designer must address 3 perspectives for success, with the goal of making the first design iteration work as intended.
- Layout Solvability - Complex Packaging Skill-Set
- Electrical Integrity - Signal & Power Performance on all Layers
- Manufacturability - DFX Considerations for High Yield and Lower Cost
THE RESULT provides for maximum component placement and routing density achievable, optimum electrical performance and efficient, high yield, and defect-free manufacturing.
This is the San Diego PCB Design difference we strive to bring to every project we have the opportunity support.