ASME Standards for PCB Design and Manufacturing

Zachariah Peterson
|  Created: May 20, 2020
ASME Standards for PCB Design and Manufacturing

So what does the ASME have to say about PCB design and deployment? As it turns out, there are many important points from the ASME to consider during design for manufacturing. Some important IPC standards for ensuring reliability are derived from ASME standards, while other documentation and drawing standards are specified explicitly in the ASME standards. Whether you work with electromechanical systems, the auto industry, or in aerospace, the right design software can help you create PCB layouts and documentation that comply with all of these standards.


A unified PCB design package that integrates the best tools, automated documentation, and production planning features.

The ASME is an organization that specifies design requirements on all types of mechanical products. Issues like safety margins, mechanical tolerances, requirements on mechanical drawings, and much more are specified in the ASME standards. Most designers who are not familiar with all aspects of the ASME standards or ASME codes may not be aware of the mechanical requirements on PCB designs.

Most electronics designers should be aware of various IPC standards on printed circuit boards for use in electronic products. These standards are designed to ensure the manufacturability and reliability of electronic products, while the relevant ASME standards are more concerned with dimensioning and tolerancing of different areas in PCB design.

Important ASME Standards on PCB Design

As ASME is concerned with mechanical engineers properly implementing aspects of different designs, the ASME standards on PCBs specify important geometric dimensioning and tolerancing requirements on various aspects of PCB design. These important requirements are mirrored in the IPC 2615 standards, and the right design software will allow you to implement dimensioning and tolerancing information directly into your layout and documentation. So while ASME standards cover, for example, a boiler pressure vessel and piping design, it also covers any computer chip inside of it. If the computer chip fails, the boiler pressure vessel and piping could become extremely dangerous.

Relation to IPC Standards

Important standards on electronic equipment under IPC 2615 are actually derived from ASME Y14.5M. Complying with these standards on printed circuit board dimensioning and tolerancing takes CAD tools that allow ultra-accurate component placement and that interface with your routing and via design tools. You’ll also need to specify tolerances directly in your mechanical drawings.

With the right design software, you won’t have to export your design to a command-line-based CAD program just to add important dimensioning and tolerancing information to your PCB. Other PCB design programs force you to move data between programs with no synchronization. Instead of using multiple design programs and manually synchronizing information across different portions of your design, you need a single integrated design package that enforces synchronization across your documentation, layout, schematics, and bill of materials.

Accessing component information design in Altium Designer

Accessing component information during schematic design

Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing for PCBs

There are many mechanical aspects to any PCB that must be accounted for when designing your board. Circuit and PCB designers must consider tolerances on their trace geometry, via holes, drill holes, and board size. Manufacturers need this information in order to ensure that their process can accommodate your mechanical requirements. All of this information needs to be compiled in your documentation for your manufacturer. This will help ensure that your final product will comply with IPC and ASME standards.

Specifying Manufacturing Tolerances in Your PCB

Supporting these capabilities requires an underlying design engine that can include tolerances directly in your PCB design data. The right design software will include documentation generation tools that take this information and incorporate it directly into your manufacturer deliverables.

Altium’s bill of materials generation tool

Linking your bill of materials to your design data

Production Planning in a Unified Design Environment

The industry’s best PCB design software will integrate your PCB editor and dimensioning features with your documentation and production planning tools in a single program. Instead of working with separated design tools and moving data to external programs, Altium’s unified design environment places these important tools in a unified environment. No other PCB design program offers this type of integration or accessibility.

Altium Designer: Unifying Layout, Documentation, and Production Planning

Altium Designer’s unified data model and integrated platform allows your documentation and production planning tools to generate important deliverables for your manufacturer. These features take data directly from your design and generate these important deliverables for your fabricator. Altium Designer also includes important ERC verification tools, simulation tools, and much more in a single program.

Other design platforms can help you create a high-quality layout, but not much else. You’ll have to purchase an extension or work with external programs to generate the documentation your manufacturer needs to produce your board. Instead of working with segmented design tools, try working with Altium Designer, the only PCB design software package that integrates layout, documentation, and production planning tools in a single environment.

When you work with Altium Designer, you’ll have access to the resources you need to get started and design successfully. You’ll have instant access to the AltiumLive forum, training and design tutorials, webinars, and podcasts with industry experts. No other company gives you this many resources for success.

Don’t settle for other design platforms that sap your productivity and make essential design tasks difficult. Instead, see how you can seamlessly move from idea to full production with a single integrated design platform. With Altium Designer, you can do all this and much more. It’s time to make the switch to Altium Designer.

About Author

About Author

Zachariah Peterson has an extensive technical background in academia and industry. He currently provides research, design, and marketing services to companies in the electronics industry. Prior to working in the PCB industry, he taught at Portland State University and conducted research on random laser theory, materials, and stability. His background in scientific research spans topics in nanoparticle lasers, electronic and optoelectronic semiconductor devices, environmental sensors, and stochastics. His work has been published in over a dozen peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, and he has written 2500+ technical articles on PCB design for a number of companies. He is a member of IEEE Photonics Society, IEEE Electronics Packaging Society, American Physical Society, and the Printed Circuit Engineering Association (PCEA). He previously served as a voting member on the INCITS Quantum Computing Technical Advisory Committee working on technical standards for quantum electronics, and he currently serves on the IEEE P3186 Working Group focused on Port Interface Representing Photonic Signals Using SPICE-class Circuit Simulators.

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