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Lightning2143 4th October 2012 01:08 PM

Professional PCB Design layout services
Hello Everyone,

I want to start off saying that I am not really sure if this is the best place to post this thread. If there is an area dedicated to this then please move this thread over there and I'm sorry for the trouble.

I just wanted to find out if anyone here would be interested in PCB layout services. I am currently a Design Engineer for the Solid State lighting market and am very experienced in 3D PCB CAD layout software. I just wanted to know if people would be interested in having a PCB professionaly layed out in CAD for them so they can have a PCB house of their choice professionally produce for them. I am willing to work with anyone very closley on their design. This would be freelance work and would be priced based upon the complexity of the design.

I can do everything from 3D renderings and 3D videos of your design. all and every type of documentation. schematic capture. Pretty much anything you can think of I can do it. Double sided pcb's Multi-layer pcbs up to 40 layers if ever needed. I can do any shape PCB and PCB routing or scoring for panelization. I can even generate STEP or IGES models for your 3D CAD software if needed. I can place your PCB into a existing fixture or case if you have a STEP or IGES file of that case and show you how it will fit. OR I can produce a simple model of the basic dimensions of your fixture/case and use that to show you what it will look like in a 3D rendering.

You'll get a single zipped file of "gerbers" that you will be able to simply send to any pcb house in the world and get boards fabbed.

Would anyone be interested in this kind of service here? I will post more information if needed.

Weston Horner

marce 5th October 2012 12:03 PM

What 3D PCB CAD packages are there out ther? There are 3D mechanical packages and some PCB software have in built pretty 3D sections where you can view your design in 3D, if you havn't got a real 3d modeling package or an IDF interface. But basic PCB layout is 2D.
Also as this is a DIY site one would expect DIY rates, say $0 per hour, lol

rsavas 11th October 2012 04:03 PM

PCB CAD is usually what we call 2-1/2 D. Component Heights are input as part of building the libraries in some CAD packages, but for full 3D, I do not think so!! Name one CAD SW package that has full 3D library creation capability? And even if you do have this capability, the manufacturer's information is sadly lacking in this regard.


marce 11th October 2012 04:28 PM

No its 2D, heights are only an attribute in the parts library or the component metadata, the actual view when laying out is 2D.
I use IDF and have done for numerous years (since 2002) to transfer PCB data to either Inventor or SolidWorksfor full 3D checking and fit into the enclosures.
AutoCad's initial foray into 3D was called 2.5D because it was very limited, unlikethe full parametric modellinf offered by the packages mentioned above.
As to PCB design packages with some 3D functionality, Cadstar has Board Modeler, Altium has quite a nice 3D fuction built in, both will import STEP files of enclosuresfor fit checking. And CR8000 from Zuken has 3D PCB layout built in.
CR-8000: Multi-board System-level Design Solution | Zuken
As to height information, the IPC-7351 component footprint standard has as part of the component name format the height information.
This is critical with some of todays very tight assemblies, for example there are now numerous heights of capacitors that have a basic 0805 (2012) or 0603 (1608) footprints.

CR8000 is the only package that has true 3D PCB layout functionality, its quite cool as well, but very expensive.

rsavas 11th October 2012 04:46 PM

Yes, the 3rd dimension is usually only component attributes.
Yes, Zuken is a fine layout package, one of the first to use curved traces!!
I agree, knowing the 3rd dimension is critical in many cases.
Exporting CAD data can be useful, used to be in IGES formatt but things may have changed since I was doing PCB design for a living.
Funny that you are going to what I believe is a Russian web site "" to get IPC copyrighted documents, yes I have retreived from this site as well!!
All good points.


marce 12th October 2012 07:05 AM

Hi Rick,
I have the C1000 series of IPC standards ar work, all paid for, i am an IPC member, but they are all in print, just found that site yesterday when I did a search, ust look around it more.
Has a very breif look and play with CR8000 at a Zuken training session in Munich, the 3D part is somthing else. We are starting to do more HDI boards (laser vias) and with conventional 2D layout it can be quite taxing, with the 3D view of CR you can see your blind and burried vias much easer.
All this software is great, but management still expect a board done ib the same time ofr less, even though the complexity and pin count has increased greatly. Plus in the UK a lot of firms are getting rid of their PCB guys and subbing the work out or getting engineers to do it (!), I work for a Zuken VAR and Bureau, we are so busy it is getting ridiculous, but what worries me more is that the UK is loosing a big skill base and not enough young engineers want to do PCB design (or analoge electronics) these days.

rsavas 12th October 2012 01:10 PM

Hi Marc,

Back in the day, when I was doing PCB layout for a living, I used a few CAD packages, Mentor Board Station, Cadence Allegro, to name a few. I recall one layout guy in Colorado who was using Zuken was pissed when he was told to switch to Mentor BS. Yes having the 3rd dimension for blind/Buried vias can be an advantage. Since PCB design is usually at the back end of the design process, the management thinks that this is a place to make up for lost time = rediculous, but this is how they think. Passing layout off to a 3rd party certainly has its problems, some layouts require some special rules to follow and that is not easy to communicate or is very time consuming to document. People think that layout is trivial, but there are many aspect to be concerned with. To be good at layout you really have to understand the manufacturing process, the test process and have good understanding of electronics. It is a world wide problem with losing skilled PCB personel. Look on the bright side, people with these skills, will be in demand and that usually results in hopefully more profit. Good chatting with an experienced layout person.


dchisholm 12th October 2012 09:19 PM


Originally Posted by rsavas (Post 3198819)
Hi Marc,
. . . management thinks that this is a place to make up for lost time = rediculous, . . . People think that layout is trivial, but there are many aspect to be concerned with. To be good at layout you really have to understand the manufacturing process, the test process and have good understanding of electronics . . . .

The PWB layout guy (or gal - one of the best I've worked with was a female girl person of the opposite sex) is perhaps the most under-appreciated member of a design team. I have tried to be a circuit designer, and did some PWB layout as an incidental part of that job but never as my primary job so I think I have some appreciation for the PWB layout function from both sides of the process. It's not a function that can be easily carved off and placed in its own box with an "input" and an "output" port. The interaction between PWB, design, and manufacturing is more like the relationship between a pitcher and catcher in baseball - a constant flow of information going in both directions, and each adjusting as needed to accommodate the other.


. . . It is a world wide problem with losing skilled PCB personel. Look on the bright side, people with these skills, will be in demand and that usually results in hopefully more profit.
Let me know when this is about to happen. The only "problem" management sees with PWB layout is that it takes too long and costs too much. They're convinced the superannuated folks who do it are too old and too dumb and too set in their ways and too greedy to use the "autoroute" tools that can do the whole job in ten minutes, rather than the ten days a PWB designer requires.


rsavas 12th October 2012 10:22 PM

Ya, push auto-router for my audio/analog layouts, good one.
Always thought maybe I'd run a business from home and layout boards, somehow it is not working, so drive to city every days, easy money. Just do my home designs these days with orcad.
I think I spend more time building libraries than place and route.
The last big design I did was 16 layers, long PCI form factor. 16-layers in 0.062", check out the stackup? We designed it in Toronto and the layout girl did it in Colorado, so was some PCB simulation. Took a good month just to do the layout this because we simulated all the critical nets both in digital simulation and PCB trace analysis using IBIS models It was all hand routed, even though we had the CCT hi-speed router. There was a Xilinx 1152 BGA, IBM 32-bit processor, SDRAM, FLASH, PCI I/F, IDT static dual-port memories, 2 & 10G optical SFP ports/connectors. This was first time we used 0.8mm pitch BGA. FAb'ed at SCI I think, flying probe test, just nuts. This was 10 years ago. So, in some ways things have changed, in other ways, not so much.!! Know one has 2/10G on there PC yet.
Share your design experiences, i'd like to hear about them.
Sorry to side track Weston Horner's thread where he was offering his services.If we continue we really should start a new thread.

Good Luck

marce 14th October 2012 09:53 AM

Nice to hear that its the same for you guys,
after 4 years of working on this project:
I've moved back to a PCB design bureau (once designed, the facility went from over 200 down to 20, all production outsourced, which is another worrying trend), closely affiliated to Zuken, mainly Cadstar, its got its advantages and disadvantages. We are so busy its getting silly, working 7 days a week quite often, and I've spent 5 out of the last 7 months away from home on site. Its nice to be busy, but it can get to much at my age (50+). I aslo get to play with the new tools that come along on of my favorites being:
CADSTAR Power Integrity Advance
Designs are pretty much still the same as you've described Rick, just more and more going on the boards. 0.4mm pitch BGAs and smaller, DDR memory almost standard on most digital PCB's, FPGA's DSP's, high speed LVDS every where, SMPS's, multiple voltages etc etc. While the complexity of the boards has increased ten fold we are still expected to lay them out as fast. Doing more and more HDI boards these days, amazing how much extra space you get on inner layers for routing, and can often almost halve the number of layers compared to normal through hole via designs.
We also do a lot more concurrent work with 3D mechanical systems for fitting boards into the cases. The silliest designs were that packed that we had to arrange the ciruitry so that components could fit between each other between the boards. Also had to have a custom heat spreader plate made with heat pipes to get the heat to the outside walls of the case.
Its not just the density of the designs, like you've mentioned, there is signal integrity simulation and verification, the same with the power deliver system, EMC to worry about,
thermal issues, cost issues etc etc, we have to cater for all these things when laying out a board...Then there are all the production issues with BGA's and the ever increasing use of leadless components (LGA's QFN's etc) 0201 and smaller chip components!
We have been doing a lot of work with Wurth lately, combined road shows and such. Some of the technology they are developing with PCB's is awsome, as well as resistore and capacitors being built into PCB's they are also developing ways to mount the actual silicon internaly, by having milled cavities with pads to bump moyunt the devices.

Printed Circuit Boards
Have fun, goto go, Sunday afternoon and I've got an ATE card to layout, its gonna be fun asd its just connectors and test points.


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