Importance of a Good Design Data Package

June 26, 2019

Steve Williams moderates the discussion between Prototron Circuits’ Mark Thompson and CA Design’s Bob Chandler.


Speaker 1: Hi Steve Williams for iConnect 007. We’re here once again with Bob Chandler from CA Design and Mark Thompson from Prototron Circuits. And this is getting the board guys to talk with the design guys. Welcome, this morning guys.

Mark/Bob: Thank you. 

Steve: So, we’re moving onto a new topic and Mark, and I know this is near and dear to your heart; getting a complete data package. I know you’ve just published a book on that recently, so this ought to be right up your alley. So, talk about what makes a good data package coming from a customer. 

Mark: I’ll try and make it very short and sweet. Typically, really all we need are image data for all the layers. Outers, inners, mask & IDs, any paste files that may be necessary and IPC netlist, and an NC drill file for each drill scenario. Meaning, if you had blinds from one to two, three to four or whatever the case may be, it would have a separate drill file for each of the blind scenarios plus the through-hole file.

Mark: A good drawing description describing the material type, stack up, copper weights and has a dimension feature to be able to place the drill within the outline and maybe, you know, don’t mix numerical formats. I’d keep them consistent, drill out which come in anywhere between, you know, meaning a 1-5 or 2-4 in inch or metric, with leading or trailing or no zero suppression. We spend a lot of time having to sort and flesh those out and figure out exactly what they are. So, consistency on the output of the numerical drill format is very helpful: 2-4, trailing and inch is the preferred format. 

Steve: Okay. Hey, Bob, I’m curious; are the requirements of the board shops, are they vastly different from board to board shop? Is that some of the reason that we get incomplete packages or is it pretty standard across the board of what these guys are looking for? 

Bob: From what I’ve seen, it’s pretty standard across the board. The problem is with the designer, the tool has a wide variety of options and not every designer has talked to their fab house to say, well gee, which outputs do you want? Because we can output a thousand different reports in a thousand different ways and some engineers like to output certain things in certain ways and other engineers have no clue and will just randomly push buttons and give them whatever comes out.

Bob: When I do my training, I spend a full day on the design package to make sure that they understand what is needed and why? 

Steve: That’s probably very helpful, right, and so it’s all about talking, right? Just the whole, the whole purpose of the series of getting the two entities talking and understanding each other’s needs and it sounds like the work you’re doing upfront with people eliminates some of those incomplete or inaccurate data packages from getting into the board shop. 

Bob: That’s correct. The other thing I would recommend is that the fab house complains when they get the data in a bad format or missing data. The only way the engineer will learn is when they know that there is an issue.

Steve: Okay, so you’re saying that a lot of companies don’t tell you when they’ve got issues? 

Bob: Yeah, they just spend a little extra time fixing it and don’t go back to the designer and say, you know, if you just give me it in this format instead, it would save a lot of time and money. 

Steve: Boy, that’s just another, another highlight of why it’s so important that you two groups talk together. 

Bob: Exactly. 

Steve: Well, excellent. Well, you both made the point a couple of times. The whole, the whole reason for this series is why is it important that that board shops talk to designers and it’s just another topic where it shows that it pays benefits. 

Mark/Bob: That’s right. Agreed.

Speaker 1: Alright, Mark, Bob, thanks for your time and again, Steve Williams for iConnect and thanks for listening.