PCB prototype design process solutions

Paul Boughton

Eurocircuits are one of Europe’s largest specialist manufacturers of prototype and small batch PCBs. Their added-value service provides additional design process solutions, helping PCB designers keep critical projects within production deadlines and budgets.
Intelligent online menus give users instant access to pricing and ordering.  New users can place orders without red tape or pre-payment. One website offers the broadest range of prototype PCB options: up to eight layers on ROHS-compliant FR4 or aluminium in order-pooling; up to 16 layers and Rogers RO4000 materials in On demand.  
To keep prices lower and deliveries ultra-reliable, Eurocircuits have invested over £1.25 million in new plant over the last two years.[Page Break]
Technical support is one of the keys to enhancing the design process.
10–15 per cent of prototype orders contain manufacturability and design rule (MDR) issues which can lose 24–48 hours on a time-critical project while they are resolved. Eurocircuits have always run 100 per cent MDR checks on incoming orders.  Today, the designer himself can get an automatic MDR check on his design before he places his order, using the PCB Visualizer online data checker. Within a couple of minutes the new PCB Checker module pinpoints each violation visually on the PCB layout. The designer can immediately resolve any issues by changing the data or selecting a different service. Then order, confident that the data-set is complete, that MDR issues will not delay delivery and that the design data matches the most cost-effective Eurocircuits service.
As an added bonus, Eurocircuits work closely with design software provider, CadSoft.  Their EAGLE CAD system can be bought/upgraded directly from Eurocircuits’ website - and PCB Visualizer imports native EAGLE data at the touch of a button. [Page Break]
Design For Manufacturability (DFM) ensures a more robust finished product that can be manufactured more cheaply. Eurocircuits’ website provides technical blogs and white papers covering all aspects of DFM. PCB Design Guidelines, 22 pages of hints and tips on DFM and data presentation (our bible as one designer put it), receives over 40,000 hits a year.

Solder-paste printing and reflow cuts manual assembly times for SMD PCBs up to 75 per cent. To continue to take time out of the design process, Eurocircuits offer a bench-top printer, eC-stencil-mate, and reflow oven, eC-reflow-mate  Designed and developed in close collaboration with Eurocircuits’ customers, they offer the same levels of accuracy and control as high-end automatic and semi-automatic machines but at a cost compatible with prototype and small batch production and with greatly simplified set-up and operation.
Registering stencil and PCB is normally a slow and frustrating task.  As Eurocircuits manufacture both PCBs and stencils, they have developed eC-registration, a simple pin-based system which registers board and stencil automatically without operator intervention. For occasional users, eC-registered PCBs and stencils can be used with a simple manual fixture, eC-stencil-fix.  
The solder-paste printing and reflow process is further enhanced by a range of industrial-quality consumables supplied in small quantities directly from the Eurocircuits website, saving waste, time and money.

For more information, visit www.eurocircuits.com