How to Get a Quicker PCB Turntime
Getting a quicker PCB turntime is not science fiction. There are a few facts on PCB manufacturing that you simply need to acknowledge before you begin working on your design.
With standard technology—single lamination, through hole, two, four, six and eight-layer boards… a one to three-day turn is fairly routine. But a quick turntime can only be as quick as the information provided and the technology you are working with.
You need to be aware of a few things that can slow down a quickturn.
Let’s start with multiple laminations. Every time you laminate a board, it is like building another multilayer board. The board goes back through all the early fabrication steps. Each lamination cycle usually adds two days to the process.
Another example is via-in-pad plated over, applicable to single lamination stack-ups. If you have a surface mount footprint with vias in the pad, it can cause solder to wick into the hole. Sometimes this process may be required to keep heat out from under the component, or as a means of saving space.
While via-in-pads have become very common, be aware that it can add at least a day to the cycle time. For more details on the process you can check out our explanation of Via-In-Pad Technology on Sierra Circuits’ website.
Be aware of the notes you put on your fabrication drawing. Know what your notes mean to the fabricator.
For example, let’s look at solder mask tenting or solder mask dams. In order to cover the hole and create a vacuum tight seal, you would first need to plug the via with mask and then go back again and coat the rest of the board– basically a duplication of the process.
Another time-consuming process step is surface finish. If your board requires two types of gold finishes– ENIG for surface mounts and hard gold for edge connectors—you are adding twice the time to the plating process.
Each finish must be plated separately, and go through the complete surface finish process twice.
These are just a few things to consider before production begins.
Having this information ahead of time will give you a realistic schedule and could save you a lot of headache.
If you wish to master the art of quickturn, the secret is simple. Learn how your requirements impact the process. Get a stack-up. A stack-up is quickly sketched up. Any good board house will provide this free of charge. And most importantly, communicate with your fab house.
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