Manufacturing Documentation with Duane Benson

September 25, 2018 Judy Warner

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Manufacturing documentation is crucial. Get pro tips from Duane Benson of Screaming Circuits on how to deliver the ideal manufacturing documentation package, so all the technical details are documented exactly as needed. Every fabrication and assembly house is different, so it pays to prepare in advance and find out what documentation to produce for your design to be manufactured. You don’t want to miss this week’s episode; it’s full of practical advice so you can navigate fabrication and assembly effectively and know what to expect in this very complicated process.


Manufacturing Documentation Show Highlights:

  • ActiveBom - use it! Excel is not the best tool for designing with.
  • Traditionally a manufacturing house needs Gerber files. It’s a text file that creates a bit-map.
  • More advanced/new way of doing this is with a single file, the most popular being is ODB++ (was proprietary, now public domain)
  • What is Gerber X2? Allows you to put intelligent data on top of the Gerbers.
  • Once you pick a fab or assembly provider, call and find out what files they prefer. It’s complicated to explain, so call your fabricator and assembly house.
  • When you send multiple files, send the same versions. It’s really common to see different versions of files because small changes were made but not all the documentation was updated.
  • IPC specifies pin location but so many of the footprints don’t follow the IPC standard.
  • This is not a “no touch” process.
  • If you need a fast turnaround, then be available 24/hours a day to provide answers and get back to manufacturer immediately. It’s a complex job, things happen.

Ideal Manufacturing Files include:

  • Everything is current and same version - everything checked
  • Read me file - cover anything non-standard, covered clear and concise (include stackup)
  • BoM in Excel format, possibly with substitutes
  • Intelligent file formats i.e. ODB++
  • If Gerbers, include Centroid file and certified that rotations are correct



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About the Author

Judy Warner

Judy Warner has held a unique variety of roles in the electronics industry since 1984. She has a deep background in PCB Manufacturing, RF and Microwave PCBs and Contract Manufacturing with a focus on Mil/Aero applications in technical sales and marketing. She has been a blogger, writer, contributor and journalist for several industry publications such as Microwave Journal, The PCB Magazine, The PCB Design Magazine, PDCF&A and IEEE Microwave Magazine and is an active member of multiple IPC Designers Council chapters. In March 2017, Warner became the Director of Community Engagement for Altium and was immediately tasked with the launch of Altium’s monthly On Track Newsletter. She was also instrumental in launching AltiumLive 2017: Annual PCB Design Summit in San Diego and Munich, a newly founded annual Altium User Conference. Her passion is providing resources, supporting and advocating for PCB Designers around the world and acting as brand ambassador for Altium.

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