How to avoid production delays and have PCBs on time

The data supplied by the customer to prepare the production documentation for PCB production must meet certain criteria to ensure efficient and error-free processing.

Common errors in customer data designs

At Gatema PCB, we prefer data in ODB++ format because this format retains attributes from the design software and prevents errors such as layer mirroring or incorrect order of internal layers.

Missing or incorrect labeling tends to be the most common cause of problems because many design systems allow mirrored data output.

For this reason, it is always necessary to label circuits TOP and BOT in copper. Correct marking of TOP and BOT in the copper of the board provides information about the layer definition as well as the orientation of the layers.


The most common cases of changes according to the technical preparation of production

As circuit boards become more sophisticated and miniaturized, designers face more pitfalls related to data preparation. Because there are many opportunities for errors in PCB design preparation, Václav Ambrož, CAM Manager, summarizes the most common cases.

Customer sends data that is not up to date

"The customer sends data, which we process in the Technical Production Preparation Department. The order is confirmed and the customer is sent a preview, in case of gerber data for checking. On the basis of these, the customer discovers that he has sent an older version of the data by mistake. The order must then be processed again from the current data. However, sometimes it happens that they do not realize the mistake and approve everything. The order processed from the outdated data is already in production and the customer only finds out about the mistake. The subsequent solution is then all the more complicated, especially in terms of time, when there is an unpleasant delay in production," says Ambrož and adds another example, when a customer orders a board with a certain specification (PCB thickness, surface finish, Cu thickness, mask colour...) and after processing and releasing it for production, he finds out that he wants to change something in the specification. "Sometimes it's no problem, sometimes it causes us complications especially when the order is already in production," he adds.


Requested specification change for an order from a priced demand

"It also happens that a customer requests the production of a plate," Ambrož continues. "Based on his data and specification, a quotation is created for him, in which the board is completely specified, including panelisation, customer panel dimensions, etc. Based on this quote, the customer orders the board. Technical preparation of production prepares the documents for production according to the customer's data, specification and data from the price offer. After sending the inspection documents, the customer wants to make some changes (typically to modify the customer's panel), even though he ordered the board according to the quotation, where everything was precisely specified." "This brings us back to square one," explains Václav Ambrož, explaining the delay in processing.


Customer data does not meet our technical conditions

"This is a pretty broad area. In general, a customer may have a board designed that does not meet some of our specifications. We then need to work this out with the customer, and in the extreme case the order may be cancelled by us due to non-producibility." The CAM manager added common production delays and requests from customers delay the completion of orders.


PCB designer´s handbook

At Gatema PCB, we strive to prevent errors and delays in production of orders. A PCB configurator is available for customers to pre-configure the technical parameters of the PCB and avoid unfulfillable technical conditions. PCBs are delivered as individual pieces in POOL service. It is possible to panelise the boards either on a groove or a 2.0 mm bridge cutter. However, such a panel is only possible for one type of board. It is necessary to specify the XY multiplicities, the total number of pieces required and the width of the process area. If not specified, a width of 10 mm is chosen. For such purposes of verifying the possibility of production, it is ideal to enter the panelisation requirement in our PCB configurator.

Similarly, we have a detailed PCB designer's Handbook. This contains all the detailed data and instructions for preparing the substrate. The handbook also presents a number of rules and limits of our production, which should be taken into account already when designing a PCB, whether it is rigid, flexi or rigid-flex. It also contains basic information and answers to your possible questions, from the materials used to the aspect ratio of the drilled hole or choosing the right technology. As long as these basic parameters are followed, we will save you a lot of time during the order and production of the board.


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Václav Ambrož
CAM Manager