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Smart PCB Digital Factory Technical Publication


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Electronic computer-aided design (ECAD) software used to design printed circuit boards (PCBs) continues to evolve and PCB manufacturing processes continue to advance, but the transfer of data between PCB designers and manufacturers has changed very little in the last 15 years. PCB build data today is comprised of a combination of electronic and paper documents spread across many files and multiple formats, (i.e. PDF, HPGL, JPEG, STEP, IGES, Excellon, ODB, ASCII, Gerber RS-274X, IPC-D-356, etc.). This shopping cart of files, is unintelligently linked making data transfer and more importantly design intent difficult to communicate and interpret. As a result, todays PCB manufacturers must review, translate and/or re-enter the data, causing their manufacturing processes to be labor intensive and prone to error. The Smart PCB Digital Factory, sponsored by the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII), set out to eliminate the multiple file formats and the error-prone manual intervention required today by demonstrating that a single data file, IPC-2581 Rev B (or IPC-2581B), containing the ECAD, Mechanical Computer-Aided Design (MCAD) and Bill of Materials (BOM) information could be successfully used to manufacture a PCB from design through fabrication, assembly and test.



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