PCB Manufacturing Best Practices

For successful PCB manufacturing, there must be successful PCB design.


In addition, a PCB quotation should be done in details to ensure that the PCB manufacturing is done within the requirements. During PCB manufacturing, the manufacturer works to produce the exact product that was described by the customer in the quotation. As a PCB designer, before you submit your quotation to the manufacturer, you need to ensure that you have all the information that the manufacturer will need to do the PCB manufacturing. In the event that some of the information is omitted, the manufacturer could ask for some additional information. It is recommended that the PCB designer understands the manufacturing company capabilities and their PCB manufacturing rules. This is because there will be significant delays if the manufacturer stops to find out and ask you about the missing details. Still, the PCB manufacturing cost for your quote will most probably increase.


There are common details that must be included in the PCB quotation to make it easy to communicate with the PCB manufacturer. Include the Gerber files for all the PCB layers and also the total number for the PCB layers. Include the Solder mask files, Silkscreen files and also the Solder paste files for your PCB design. The Drill files and the PCB outline should also be well defined with all the dimensions provided. It is also a good PCB manufacturing practice to provide a full drawing of how you want your final PCB to look like by the time it is completed. This should be illustrated using a .DXF file rather than a .PDF file. It is important to mention that panelization layout details are equally important for multiple PCBs. You also want to make sure that you provide PCB stack-up details for multi-layer PCBs and any other unique requirements for your PCB!


During PCB manufacturing, an automatic Design Rule Check (DRC) is usually run to detect if there are any flaws in the submitted PCB design files. In most cases, PCB designs will pass this check since most PCB designers know how to use the available PCB design programs long before they decide to invest in their PCB and send out their design for professional PCB manufacture. However, there are some goofy design practices that may pass through DRC undetected. A good example is the inclusion of acid taps or slots in your PCB design. This may leave some etchant that will continue to eat away the PCB even after the etching process is finished. This slot should be filled. Another example is when the PCB trace happens to be larger and around the SMT metal pad. In such a case, when the solder paste spreads during the reflow process, it will flow beyond the SMT pad into the PCB trace. This will result into a weak joint.

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