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How to Design a great PCB or Printed Circuit Board

How to Design a great PCB or Printed Circuit Board


PCB or Printed Circuit Board is the physical implementation of an electronic circuit.  PCB design is a very specialized task, an art which can only be mastered through training or attained with experience. For a novice electronic hobbyist, laying out a PCB design might turn out to be a pretty daunting task, especially if the circuit consists of a few hundred components and if there are lot of constraints, both mechanical and electrical.  No matter how efficient the circuit design is, if the PCB design is not done efficiently the product may not even work.


In this article, you will know about:


  1. Standards

  2. CAD Software used for Design

  3. PCB Design Flow

  4. Footprint Creation

  5. Constraint Definition

  6. Component Placement

  7. Routing

  8. Design Rules Checking (DRC)

  9. Gerber file generation

  10. PCB design for EMC compliance – Best practices

  11. PCB Thermal management

  12. Single layer PCB design

  13. Conclusion



In the early days, PCB design was manually implemented by drawing out the layout using pens or sticking adhesive tapes on a transparent film.  But nowadays, it is a fully automated process which makes use of complex Computer Aided Design (CAD)software. This article is meant to serve as a guide to get through the nittygritties of PCB design fundamentals.



The primary building block of any PCB is the substrate, which in most cases in made up of FR4 glass epoxy.    FR4 is a composite material made of woven fiberglass cloth with an epoxy resin binder that is fire resistant.  FR4 stands for Fire retardant grade 4.  The substrate mechanically supports the electronic components which are mounted on it.  The components are connected to each other using conductive copper traces, which are etched out on the substrate, which is an insulator.  Printed Circuit Board design involves the efficient layout of components on the board area and the layout of the pattern of interconnecting traces.


1. Standards

Standards by the Association Connecting Electronics Industries or IPC is the most widely followed and complied with, in connection with PCB design.  Some of the IPC PCB design standards are listed below:

IPC-2221B: Generic Standard on Printed Circuit Board Design

IPC-7351: Generic requirements for Surface Mount Land Pattern and design

By complying to the above two standards, you can make sure that your PCB complies to a global standard and speaks the same language as any other PCB designed anywhere in the world which comply to the same standard.



CAD Software

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