As we approach the end of 2020, we are able to look back on one of the most challenging years that I have ever experienced. But it is not just me; this year has been one to remember (not really fondly) for everyone on the globe. We are very fortunate to have been able to carry on with supplying PCBs to a great number of people and industries, even in the midst of our COVID-19 pandemic. We were also fortunate to be a key supplier for multiple projects aimed directly at helping with the pandemic.
Throughout these trying times, we have been consistent in our desire to share knowledge with everyone and give ourselves and everyone else a few minutes’ break from our reality. The following is a synopsis of the topics we shared with you from the perspective of a PCB manufacturer.
- January (Design Tips for Layout): Here, we share tips as a manufacturer that has seen thousands of PCB layouts. Some examples are very good, but we also describe pitfalls to avoid that might give you a chuckle or two.
- February (You Cannot Afford Not to Consider ISO:9001): The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9000 family and ISO 9001 certifications are built on standards achieved with a QMS that addresses far more than “just quality.” Done correctly, we learned that this standard provides a foundation for a robust business management system. It was a journey worth taking, and one we encourage you to consider. Fair warning: ISO adoption can be challenging at times.
- March (The Seven Year Etch): Creating the copper circuitry on a PCB involves etching. The more that is known about how a PCB is made, the better equipped a designer will be to create the design.
- April (Increased Focus on Health and Wellness Transforms the PCB Industry): Our increased focus on health and wellness drives technology advancement for personal devices, and those used in the delivery of healthcare. This trend also drives both PCB production innovation and a long-overdue update of the employer/employee relationship.
- May (Picking a Prototyping Strategy): Since no two design projects are the same, your approach to prototyping should be flexible. Your needs will be different every time. Are you going for fast-and-dirty prototyping? Do you need a quick turnaround time? Will it be easier for you to use a DIY prototyping technique?
- June (The Power of Forward Thinking): Innovating is fun, and creativity can be a good outlet for people, but PCB design seems to be a rigid set of rules and not fun or creative. However, it really can be an opportunity to have fun and be creative and still create a highly effective and manufacturable PCB.
- July (Reassessing the Risk of Offshore PCB Manufacturing): Making the right decision about domestic versus offshore PCB manufacturing depends on a thorough cost-benefit analysis. Your results will vary depending on volume and design requirements. We encourage our customers to look for the hidden costs in offshoring and seriously consider its less quantifiable pain points.
- August (The Nuts and Bolts of Electrical Testing): Understanding the process of electrically testing a bare PCB is key. The more that a designer can understand the manufacturing and testing processes, the better the PCB design. This column imparts some of the key points around electrical testing.
- September (How to Know If a CAD Tool Is Right for You): The most important tool that a PCB designer can have at their disposal is the CAD tool. There are many different tools available, ranging from very simple and free to super powerful and expensive and everything in between. Depending on the goal of a particular project, many designers have several in their tool belt. This column explores what to look for in a CAD tool. It can be a very personal choice, but knowing what to look for can make that search more productive.
- October (Unraveling the Mysterious BGA Routing Mess): In an effort to pass on many tips to help become a better PCB designer, this column was aimed at solutions to make the process of routing a sometimes tricky BGA component easier using logical steps to make it happen. Sometimes, left to their own processes, the resulting design may not be a treat to manufacture. (The more you know.)
- November (The New Recipe for Customer Service Success): What does customer service look like now in the midst of the pandemic? What does it need to look like to meet and exceed the needs of the customer? Al Secchi, global customer support and sales manager, shares his thoughts.
Bob and I had a lot of fun sharing some of what we have learned in our over 60 years of combined PCB experience. With that much time in the industry, there are so many tips, pitfalls, stories, and knowledge tidbits that we can still share. We are really looking forward to a year of growth and higher expectations as more and more people get back to work, adapt to this new normal, and continue to innovate, create, and design. If there are topics that you are interested in us exploring, reach out to us and let us know what is on your mind.
This column originally appeared in the December 2020 issue of Design007 Magazine.