PCBs and IoT Ecosystem

PCB Design Considerations for Manufacturing IoT Devices

Everyone is always telling you to keep your eye on the “big picture.” But frankly, there are times when it’s difficult to be concerned about anything that isn’t directly related to completing the specific task at hand. This type of focus can be rewarding as it can prevent you from overlooking minor details and making simple errors. However, in most cases, a good understanding of the purpose of your activity and its place within the larger scheme of things is essential to maximizing effectiveness. This is certainly the case when you’re designing boards destined to be incorporated into an Internet of things (IoT) architecture.

When manufacturing IoT devices, understanding the larger IoT system is critical, as individual IoT devices themselves comprise a single layer of a multilayered structure. These layers must be integrated such that the data collected by the devices flows seamlessly through the system. This level of information flow is only achievable when factors like your security, interoperability, power/processing capabilities, scalability, availability, controllability and environment are incorporated into the design and manufacture of your IoT devices. To incorporate PCB design considerations for manufacturing IoT devices while addressing these key issues, you should involve your CM during PCB design to ensure board manufacturability and quality. But before we define specific design considerations to employ, let’s take a look at IoT architecture and commonly-manufactured IoT devices.

The IoT Architecture

The primary purpose of IoT is developing systems that can communicate with other systems to improve or enhance capability, functionality, operation or performance. The system is typically autonomous and driven by the communication between individual elements of the system itself and the larger global system. Because an IoT system can exist across any geographical expanse, the best way to envision the architecture is probably as a tiered structure, as shown in the figure below.

IoT layers

As shown above, an IoT architecture can be represented as consisting of three layers:

  • Devices Layer - This layer contains the devices that gather data and information and transfer it, usually via WiFi, Bluetooth or another wireless protocol, for further processing and display.
  • Edge Layer - This layer accepts the data and information from the devices layer and performs necessary data processing tasks to transfer the data to the cloud layer.
  • Cloud Layer - This layer is the repository and dissemination point for the previously collected and processed data and information. From here, the data can be accessed by authorized users for display, download, etc.

The layers listed reflect the minimal requirements for an IoT architecture, which can contain additional layers to reflect internal processing steps. It is also important to note that IoT architectures are typically non-isolated structures. For example, many systems may use the same cloud storage facilities. Regardless of your particular IoT system, performance depends on the successful incorporation of design for manufacturing (DFM) for manufacturing IoT devices.

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PCB Design Considerations for Manufacturing IoT Devices

IoT devices require you to incorporate a number of potential issues into your PCB design strategy; these include security, interoperability, power/processing capabilities, scalability, availability, controllability and the environment(s) where the device will be deployed. Although IoT devices may be deployed virtually anywhere, we can generally classify them as consumer, industrial or enterprise devices. Depending on your specific IoT device type and classification, certain PCB design considerations can affect manufacturing and should, therefore, be addressed as part of your DFM in conjunction with your CM. These PCB design considerations and DFM concerns are listed below, based on the particular class of your IoT device:

Device Class (Devices) PCB Design Considerations DFM Concerns


(home appliances, wearables, smart TVs)

Board flexibility

board size, EMI, signal integrity, high density interconnect (HDI)

Component placement, trace lengths, stackup, via types, connector constraints, bend radii


(pumps, motors, ID tags)

Board strength, thermal capacity, high voltage, integration with mechanical design Board material, trace sizes, thermal reliefs

(computing equipment, security systems, temperature control)

Power reliability, connectivity, RF, high frequencies, module connectivity Depanelization, component placement, trace lengths, radiation

A few PCB design considerations that are most commonly needed are listed above. Although special attention should be paid to these areas, you should also ensure that your DFM complies with your CM’s capabilities and equipment to ensure that your boards meet the key requirements for manufacturing IoT devices.

Tempo‘s Custom PCB Manufacturing Service

  • Performs entire turnkey process in as fast as 3 days.
  • Emphasizes DFM to eliminate time-consuming back-and-forth design corrections.
  • Performs BOM verifications to reduce possibility of component obsolescence issues.
  • Sources components from the most reputable suppliers in the industry to reduce procurement time.
  • Performs multiple automated inspections during assembly to ensure PCB quality for prototyping.
  • Provides support throughout the PCB manufacturing process, beginning with design.
  • Smooth transition from prototyping to production.

Tempo Automation leads the industry in fast, quality custom PCB manufacturing. We will work with you to incorporate PCB design requirements for manufacturing IoT devices into your product design. With a white-box approach to PCB manufacturing, we promote a transparent and symbiotic CM-designer relationship to help you optimize DFM for your design.

To help you get started easily, we furnish information for your DFM and enable you to easily view and download DRC files. If you’re an Altium user, you can simply add these files to your PCB design software.

If you are ready to have your design manufactured, try our quote tool to upload your CAD and BOM files. If you want more information on PCB design considerations for manufacturing IoT devices or how to incorporate the required DFM into your design, contact us.

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