Advanced PCB Layout

Advanced PCB Layout

PCB layout is that last step in a process that can either complement or undo the work that led up to it.  The laws of physics make drawing the patterns in the copper more than a simple graphic arts exercise, and as circuit design engineers ourselves (whose own work has frequently hung in the balance of PCB layout quality) we'll do what it takes to assure that your finished board will work as anticipated.  Any investment made in good PCB layout pays dividends every time a circuit board is manufactured for lower cost with higher yields.

Our expertise as a PCB layout service bureau includes:

  • Controlled impedance and balanced pair routing for high speed design.
  • Layout for DDR2/3, LPDDR, modern PC bus standards (PCIe, PCI-X, etc.), LVDS, WAN serial, USB (1.0, 1.1, 2.0, and 3.0), Rambus, GMII, RGMII, USB, Firewire, and HDMI/DVI/Advanced Video.
  • Micro-BGA PCB layout and routing, particularly in lower layer count PCB's for cost reduction.
  • Routing with buried and blind vias if required, and routing to avoid buried and blind vias for cost reduction.
  • Analog circuit layout with guard rings and power and ground islands for noise immunity.
  • Switchmode power supply layout.
  • Co-planar Waveguide (CPWG) and Microstrip layout for microwave circuit design.
  • Flex circuit design.
  • The ability to deliver a finished bare PCB, since we have partnerships with a number of bare board manufacturers.
  • The awareness of what is and is not manufacturable.
  • The ability to do a complete turnkey build of a prototype, complete with components installed, since we're allied with a contract assembly shop.  You send the schematics and netlist , and we'll send back finished boards ready for debug.
  • Testing of your prototype boards to the extent it makes sense for us to be involved.
  • The use of layout techniques conforming to IPC-7351B standards.
  • An ability to accept all major schematic capture netlist formats, and the skills to massage data from some of the more unusual ones.
  • Insistence upon processes for traceability and the generation of an audit trail. Both our schematic and our PCB layout libraries are kept in a software vault under version control, and our designers are required to check in and check out libraries from there, not keep their own writable copies locally.
We share our facilities with an ISO-9000 certified contract assembly shop, working with the talented people who frequently build the PCB's we lay out.  Manufacturability isn't something we try to shoehorn back into a design; if it can't be built, our roommates will let us know.  "DFM" is our starting point, and we can get you from prototype to production run faster than anyone – usually with the eventual cost savings that go with eliminating a pilot run or two along the way.

Our success is cumulative, and our turnaround times are typically about 25%-30% shorter than most of the industry because we maintain extensive libraries with all the elements we've placed and routed before.  Our designers have an average of fifteen to twenty years layout experience, and our parts libraries have been built up over the course of decades.

All of our schematic capture decals have the purchasing information (with full engineering part numbers) attached in the master library itself.  When the design leaves the engineers desk and enters manufacturing, the bill of materials is inherently ready to go and guaranteed to agree with x-y coordinate information for component placement. Similarly, if you send us a schematic, we can add this information and save time and money on the back end.

If there's any doubt about a new footprint, we'll put it on a dummy PCB to make sure the decal we've got is good, and that it will run through the manufacturing process correctly. (Two-sided PCB's without silkscreening can cost as little as a few hundred dollars and be delivered in a day or two and can prove to be well worth their cost.)

And we're circuit designers (and physicists) ourselves, so we'll be able to speak your language if you're an electrical engineer doing circuit design.  If you've got a circuit that's going a few GHz and a trace just became a parasitic inductor/capacitor at those frequencies, we're going to know how to deal with it.

When the schedule is tight and there's no room for error, send us your netlist (or schematic) and we'll bring your circuits to life.