Congratulations, you have just completed
your PCB design! While you may think that this is the end of the road, you
still have a couple of steps to take before you can send the design off to the manufacturer.
Here are some of the most important things you need to do before your PCB can
be put into production.
Check Your Schematics
Learning how to design a product for
manufacturing can be an arduous process which can leave you feeling tired in
the final stages. Walk away from the design for a little while and then come
back to the schematics with fresh eyes. Is everything connected correctly? Move
each part on the board to check that each of its nets are actually connected to
It may seem super basic, but do you have
all the parts that you need? For example; if you are including a
microcontroller, you should maybe think about including a reset switch.
If you think you might have missed
something out, Altium have written this design for
manufacturing guide which outlines all the materials you’ll need and how to
put it all together.
When you are satisfied that the schematics
are fine, you should also think about double-checking the board data. One of
the easiest checks to do is to order the parts for the board before you put it
into production. Another of the major checks you should make is whether the integrated
circuits you need are available in the shape you need
them for the board. If not, you might again have to alter your design.
Sometimes you cannot always find the
precise pieces you need and it is better to try to alter the board when it is
still in its drawing phase as opposed to when it has actually been
manufactured. Only greenlight the production if you are satisfied that all of
your components are going to fit onto the board you have designed. It is a
waste of time and money if a board is manufactured which then requires further
The DRC, or Design Rule Checking, is one of
the best tools your PCB design software will have. It is a small automated
feature which checks your design various design rules to make sure that it is
ok. You can configure it to whatever needs you have to ensure that it is working
to best compliment your design. While it is very good at catching errors, some
will slip through and some may register as a false positive so it is extremely
important that you know how to read your report!
Your Data Files
The final step you need to undertake is to
run the CAM processor. This will convert your design in the PCB software into
the data files your manufacturer needs to produce your board. You may also want
to take a look at your gerber files
in a compatible reader at this point.
Then, all that is left to do is package up your
files and send them off to the manufacturer! With a little luck, it won’t be
long until you get your brand-new board ready for you to install parts on!