Cloud-based PCB tool cuts board re-spins

April 06, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
Cloud-based PCB cuts board re-spins
PCBflow from Siemens Digital Industries allows PCB manufacturers to upload their specific constraint files for designers to use to minimise re-spins

Siemens has launched a cloud-based software service that bridges the gap between the electronics design and printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturing.

PCBflow extends Siemens’ Xcelerator portfolio with a secure environment for PCB design teams to interact with a variety of manufacturers. By rapidly performing a range of design-for-manufacturing (DFM) analyses in the context of each manufacturers’ process capabilities, which helps customers accelerate design-to-production handoff.

The tool uses Siemens’ Valor NPI software engine, which performs over 1000 DFM checks and so enables PCB design teams to rapidly identify manufacturability violations. These violations are then sorted and prioritized according to level of severity, guiding users through images and locations on the design for easy identification and immediate correction. 

Siemens says PCBflow is its first step towards automating the design-to-manufacturing handoff process. The company says it is the first to offer a marketplace featuring online, fully automated design for manufacturing (DFM) analysis technology, which can help optimize designs, reduce front-end engineering cycles, and streamline communication between board makers and designers. 

Design for manufacturing boost

This is key for New Product Introduction (NPI) with prototyping as well as revisions, product variants, different BoM, corrections or enhancements on the design side and getting a board into production. Siemens calculate that there are at least 1m new product introductions every year and this has been growing exponentially for the last couple of years as new product launches have moved from a yearly event to quarterly and now weekly.

One of the key challenges is ensuring board designs can be manufactured. Designers use generic design rule checking (DRC) and design for manufacturing (DFM) with generic process constraints so when they run the actual analysis that matches the specific PCB flow they find issues and this can take two to three weeks on average to fix with 2.5 iterations of a board to get it into production. More accurate DFM can eliminate these iterations, but this needs the detailed constraints from the manufacturers

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