Optimizing PCB Fabrication for Your Design

A bare board is the end product of PCB fabrication

Building custom circuit boards is a three-tier process consisting of the design, build, and test (or DBT) stages. Each stage is distinct yet depends on the others for overall success. The board build stage is where board quality and reliability are defined. It’s also where the tangible product that embodies your design intent is created. Producing the best representation of your design means optimizing  PCBA manufacturing—and it starts with PCB fabrication. Align design specifications with the fabrication process, opt for the best type of service, and choose the right contract manufacturer (CM) to build your boards.

Tempo’s Integrated Turnkey PCB Fabrication and Assembly Services

Tempo’s digital thread manufacturing process leads the PCBA industry in building custom, complex boards with agility and accuracy. Our integrated turnkey PCB fabrication and assembly services deliver on-demand PCBAs at the speed of innovation. For more information on PCB fabrication for your designs, contact us.

The PCB Fabrication Process

As the initial manufacturing stage, fabrication converts your outline into a PCB that accurately reflects your design. The process for building your bare board includes well-defined steps, as shown on the right. However, the equipment and materials needed for implementing each step can vary significantly. To avoid this, it is important that you acquire and follow your CM’s DFM rules and guidelines.

DFM rules and guidelines define the requirements for circuit board manufacturing that fall within industry standard regulations, especially the performance classifications set by IPC 6011. They and other associated standards specify important DFM parameters, including the following:

Important DFM Specifications:

Although inexhaustive, this list shows the importance of DFM in laying out your PCB for manufacturability.

PCB Fabrication Steps

  1. Imaging
  2. Inner layer etching
  3. Layups
  4. Hole drilling
  5. Outer layer etching
  6. Plating
  7. Solder masking
  8. Silkscreen application
  9. Finishing

Types of PCB Fabrication Services

In addition to understanding the importance of DFM when it comes to PCB fabrication, it’s necessary to know which service options are available to you. There are three types of PCB fabrication services:

PCB Fabrication Options:

  • Fabrication Only: Your manufacturer only builds the bare board PCB for you.
  • Partial Turnkey: Fabrication and assembly may be performed and/or managed by your contract manufacturer (CM), but you may need to supply the circuit board and necessary components first.
  • Full Turnkey: Your CM manages the entire manufacturing process for you. This includes PCB fabrication, assembly, and component procurement.

Your choice of PCB fabrication service can greatly affect the quality and efficiency of the entire manufacturing process.

Choosing the Right PCBA Manufacturing Service Provider

The final and most important step for optimizing your board build is to partner with the best PCB fabrication service provider for your design and application. Below are a few important considerations to help you decide.

How To Choose the Best PCB Fabrication Services for Your Design

  1. Determine the type of service required
  2. Determine whether to use an on-shore provider
  3. Make sure your CM provides DFM rules and guidelines
  4. Ensure your CM has the credentials for your board type
  5. Ensure your CM’s QC meets your requirements

Tempo’s Integrated Turnkey PCB Fabrication and Assembly Services

At Tempo, we employ an integrated approach to PCBA development. Our software-based digital thread manufacturing process leverages speed, accuracy, and AI to optimize your board build under any circumstance. For PCB fabrication, we deploy supply chain mitigation measures to ensure on-demand manufacturing with the fastest turnaround times in the industry. 

Advanced technologies like robotics and AI coupled with deep collaboration ensures we always get it right the first time while achieving high yield rates for your PCBA development—regardless of design complexity. 

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