How to Take Your PCB from Design to Manufacture

If you are an amateur PCB designer, chances are you have had to work out much about PCB design for yourself. Although there are many forums and instructional videos out there to support you, sometimes you can be left wondering what the next step is? If you have a completed PCB, this may be you. Keep reading to find out how you can take your PCB from the design stage to fully manufactured.

Review the Design

The first thing you need to do is review the design once more. Check for simple mistakes and errors which could have a serious effect on the way your board behaves. Some common problems include incorrectly placed components and other similar issues. You should always make sure that you are submitting the best possible version of a circuit board as possible.

When you are ready, convert your CAD drawing into Gerber files. These are the industry standard which allows any manufacturer to look at the design regardless of where it came from. Your design software might come with a gerber file converter built in or you may have to download one for free from a reputable source online.

Source a Manufacturer

There are many manufacturers all around the world who will offer to make your PCB designs and then ship them to you. All you need to decide is which of them you wish to go with. Make sure you always get a quote before committing to a manufacturer. A competitor might be able to offer you a much better deal at a lower price.

You should also think about where you are ordering from. If you find a manufacturer in your own country, chances are you will be able to build up more of a working relationship with them. If you choose one from another country such as China, you may not be able to make any special requests.

Do It Yourself

If you have the workshop space, you could also opt to create your PCBs for yourself. The equipment to do so is not that expensive and it can easily be sourced. Furthermore, it is easier than you think to make them. Many university electronics students have to make their own PCBs as part of their projects. The techniques used are also often utilised by big industries who want a prototype turnaround in a matter of a few hours. You should be able to find some guides online to help you out. There are various circuit design software options available on the market such as Altium, so you could download a free demo of this and see if it’s something that you can utilise.

Manufacturing your first PCB is an exciting milestone and you want to get it right first time. Make sure you are taking your time at every possible step to ensure that are getting the best deal possible. If it feels like a manufacturer is not treating you the way you wish to be treated as a customer, don’t be afraid to take your business elsewhere. You have worked on this project and you deserve to see it come to life in the way you have envisioned.

 

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