Best Toolset for PCB Via Creation in PCB Design

Zachariah Peterson
|  Created: January 9, 2020

Best-in-class Pad Via Library and Drill Pair Manager define and save every type of via.

ALTIUM DESIGNER

The most powerful, modern and easy-to-use PCB design tool for professional use.

PCB Pad Via Templates allow definition and inclusion in a project library

Vias connect layers on the PCB where continuous signal paths are desired. The most common via is a cylindrical hole throughout all the layers of the PCB, commonly called a throughhole. Each end of the throughhole includes a pad. Other types of vias exist for specialized functions to promote signal integrity while saving space for closely packed boards.

A via usually exists on a PCB to connect at least one inner layer to one or both outer layers. A blind via connects one outer layer to one or more inner layers, ending at the inner layer. Buried vias connect inner layer signals and do not continue to outer layers of the PCB. Connection ties are made at the intersection of the via with its respective inner layer for signal path continuity. Cost drives selection of this type.

Types of PCB Vias

The most common via used on 99% of all printed circuit boards is the throughhole via. Other via designs are possible to address critical signals that require extra features to ensure signal integrity. The most common of these is the blind via. The blind via limits its inductive contribution by burrowing only a few layers into the board rather than through the entire board. When inner layers connect and require shielding from outside layers, buried vias are used. Thermal vias wick heat away from power hungry devices with patterns in downset thermal relief pads.

Define start and stop layer for a blind via

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1vZQxNmytMahje5eJGoDlbRXZ10F37wk_

USE ALTIUM DESIGNER’S PAD VIA TEMPLATES TO CREATE CUSTOM VIAS

Each type of via may be created and defined in the Pad Via Template Editor and stored within the design’s Local Pad & Via Library. The intelligent Editor recognizes IPC dimensions and assigns names to the custom-made vias that describe their respective IPC definition. This maps to PCB vendor capabilities and gets you state-of-the-art custom pads and vias. Having access to editors that anticipate your needs and help you create realizable manufacturing constraints while applying customized vias to your design is available in Altium Designer.

To effectively create your vias and keep them stored:

Purpose of Vias

Each via type has a purpose within the overall electrical design of the board. Common throughhole vias are placed where a net from an outer layer is now directed onto an inner layer for continuation to its destination. Any high-speed signals may benefit from more custom vias to promote signal integrity and remove the opportunity for noise. Blind and buried vias minimize exposure to the surface preventing susceptibility to noise. They also minimize the length of the trace lowering the inductive kick of a throughhole which prevents emitting noise from the via. Thermal vias provide a path for heat to move away from hot parts and into the surrounding air for cooling.

Establish and visualize the rules for defined blind, and other, vias

https://drive.google.com/open?id=13eN6G129aOGwf0i17JGJONPRdjK26Y67

PURPOSE VIAS FOR LOW AND HIGH-SPEED SIGNALS

Use the tool that gives flexibility for defining and using vias for their intended purpose. Rather than define a via each time you punch one into your design, set the rules up as you design. Your designs have a local via library where your customization is stored for reuse as you move forward in your design. You no longer need to repeat rote commands each time you punch a via. Move to elegance while running your traces between layers.

To effectively purpose your vias to handle signal integrity issues, take a look:

Via Techniques

Use a tool that gives you editors, templates, rules definition, and libraries to address properties for assignment to your vias. Use backdrilling to define blind and buried vias. Use solder mask definition to tent vias on outer layers to avoid shorting opportunities with closely packed components. Define stub lengths and drill sizes. Define your plating and fabrication instructions to produce well-centered copper in a radius around your via.

Produce drill reports for vias from the PCB editor

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1tOg5Il5fGHFLS8l62qsFp69VrcEaxC4V

USE POWERFUL CONFIGURATION TOOLS TO DEFINE PROPERTIES

Unleash ease with the Layer Stack Manager that navigates to backdrilling definition with ease. Build templates and store them in your via library. Then open the Constraint Rules Editor to refine drill needs to attain the custom via. Go to the Backdrilling Configuration Panel to produce Drill Tables and Backdrilling reports. Each is connected to the other so if any details are changed to a via definition, the update propagates through to the tables and reports for live update.

ENGAGE CONFIGURATION TOOLS TO GENERATE TABLES AND REPORTS

Look no further for an elegant tool that makes it easy to define and configure any type of via for use in your design. Once defined, store the via in your design’s Pad and Via Library for reuse. Access interactive routing and employ via-in-pad and via stitching to manage techniques for delivering a PCB with best-in-class signal integrity. Then configure your design to create drill tables and reports to ensure that your via needs are communicated to the fabrication vendors clearly. With powerful tools at your fingertips, vias are easy to realize in your design.

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 1000+ technical blogs on PCB design for a number of companies. He is a member of IEEE Photonics Society, IEEE Electronics Packaging Society, and the American Physical Society, and he currently serves on the INCITS Quantum Computing Technical Advisory Committee.

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