PCB design and layout services generate schematics and computer aided design (CAD) files for printed circuit boards (PCBs). They produce industry-standard Gerber files and provide fabrication and assembly drawings that depict board dimensions, hole sizes, board thickness, multi-layer stack-up, and part placement. PCB design and layout services also set the footprints or pads where parts are soldered to the board. Some PCB design and layout services help customers to re-evaluate, redesign or modernize existing board layouts to increase performance and reduce manufacturing costs. Others offer rapid prototyping or perform simulated testing. PCB design and layout services that perform PCB fabrication are also available. There are two basic assembly methods. Surface mount technology (SMT) solders a component’s leads or terminals to the top surface of the board. Through hole technology (THT) mounts components by inserting component leads through holes in the board and then soldering the leads in place on the opposite side of the board.
PCB design and layout services specialize in different types of computer boards. PCB categories include single-sided boards, double-sided boards, multi-layer boards, flexible boards and rigid-flexible boards. Single-sided boards mount components on only one side of the substrate. Double-sided boards mount components on both sides. Multi-layer boards have three or more layers of printed circuits separated by laminated layers and bonded together with internal and external interconnections. Flexible PCBs are usually made of polyester or polyimide materials. They reduce the number of interconnects and are suitable for high-temperature applications. Flex circuits can also be used to solve difficult packaging problems and improve a product’s appearance. Rigid-flexible boards are rigid PCBs with flexible interconnects.
PCB design and layout services conform to quality standards from organizations such as the European Union (EU), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), International Standards Organization (ISO) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL). CE Marking indicates that products comply with the essential requirements of relevant European Union (EU) directives that uphold national standards for health, safety and environmental protection. Products that bear a CSA Mark have been tested by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and meet applicable standards for safety and/or performance. These standards are written and administered by organizations such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Underwriters Laboratories (UL), and CSA International. ISO 9000 provides an internationally recognized framework for quality management systems. The term "ISO 9000" refers to a family of standards: ISO 9000:2000, ISO 9001:2000, and ISO 9004:2000. PCB design and layout services that conform to U.S. military specifications (MIL-SPEC) are also available.