Although printed circuit boards are more common than ever, designing them still isn’t such an easy task. If you’re considering creating a board, avoid these common mistakes in printed circuit board design.
Mistake #1: Improper Trace Geometry
The printed circuit board (PCB) traces are the avenue on which electrical signals travel between the various components of the circuit. They’re crucial to the functionality of the PCB, but if their geometry is off, it can spell disaster for the board.
Notably, the width and thickness of the traces are common areas of difficulty. Designers often try to use lighter and thinner copper foil than the signal requires, leading to failure. It may be tempting to cut down the weight, but it’s not worth it if the PCB trace carries a powerful and intense signal the copper can’t hold.
Mistake #2: Electromagnetic Interference (EMI)
EMI is when the signals of an electronic device, like a PCB, interfere with one another, almost like radio signal interference. EMI can come from many sources, leading to PCB failure, but typically, it has to do with the board’s design.
While designing your board, ensure that your PCB is protected from EMI. Sometimes, the solution to reducing EMI is as simple as eliminating the right angles on traces.
Mistake #3: Blind or Buried Vias
Blind and buried vias are holes used to solve complex routing situations that improve the heat exchange of the PCB. Blind vias connect an external layer with an internal one, while buried vias connect two inner layers.
Some designers will attempt to save money on the budget by skipping the blind or buried vias, but this is a short-sighted mistake. Routing situations can be substantially more difficult and frustrating without the vias, costing you time and labor. Keep the vias, and later on, you’ll be happy you did!
Mistake #4: Not Enough Space in Layout
PCBs are in higher demand than ever, and designers are going smaller and smaller with their designs as a result. The smaller components and reduced distance between them are common culprits for board failure or even a noncompliance issue.
As tempting as it is to go smaller, don’t get carried away, and ensure that the layout technique fits the unit’s needs. Also, don’t forget to leave room for adding additional components later.
PCBs are complex and fickle devices, so there are many more typical errors than the common mistakes in printed circuit board design that we’ve laid out. Even if you run into problems, don’t give up! For many designers, the best teaching tool is trial and error.
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