Saturday, October 19th
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10 Tools & Articles Every PCB Designer Should Have In Their Toolbox

10 Tools & Articles Every PCB Designer Should Have In Their Toolbox

By now, 2015 may be a distant memory. But for us at Bay Area Circuits, 2015 was a year full of interesting articles and updates to our most frequently used engineering tools. We’ve got a lot of useful new content coming your way in 2016, but in the meantime, here is a compilation of the top ten most viewed tools, guides, and blog posts from the Bay Area Circuits website for… Read More

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V-Scoring for Printed Circuit Boards

V-Scoring for Printed Circuit Boards

Bay Area Circuits recently installed a new Accu-Score AS-100-MAX V-scoring machine in our Silicon Valley facility. This new scoring machine will not only improve the quality of the printed circuit boards scoring process, but also shortens manufacturing process time.  Both big wins for our customers.  In this post we’ll share a little more information about V-Scoring to help you understand exactly what it is and when to use it. Let’s answer these basic questions: What… Read More

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The Gerber Format; an Interview with Ucamco

The Gerber Format; an Interview with Ucamco

For engineers new to PCB design, the term ‘Gerber files’ will quickly become a part of their everyday vernacular. And as such, it’s a topic we’ve covered frequently and will cover again today by going straight to the source via interviews with our friends from Ucamco, the Belgium-based company who owns and maintains the Gerber standard. But before we get to that let’s start with a quick introduction. Containing data… Read More

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Printed Circuit Board Laminate Material Trends

Printed Circuit Board Laminate Material Trends

Recently, we at Bay Area Circuits, have seen an increase in demand for Ventec’s laminate materials in part because of the proliferation of LED lighting and IoT (Internet of Things) products which often have greater than normal requirements for thermal management. In this special guest post from Ventec USA President, Jack Pattie, Jack shares his views on the latest laminate trends in the US: As always at Ventec, we are working hard… Read More

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Technical Tip for a Successfully Manufactured PCB – The Netlist

Technical Tip for a Successfully Manufactured PCB – The Netlist

Designing a printed circuit board poses many challenges. It can be exhilarating to complete a design and send it off to manufacturing but later deflating to receive boards and identify a failure that could have been prevented. Was a mistake made in the design or did the manufacturer make an error? Providing the manufacturer with a ‘netlist’ in addition to your design files and fabrication notes is one way to… Read More

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Cross Section Analysis: Inside a PCB

Cross Section Analysis: Inside a PCB

How can the internal quality of a printed circuit board be inspected and verified using cross section analysis? Recently we published an article that talked about IPC Inspection guidelines that provides an overview of the standards used in the inspection process of printed circuits boards. One of the many inspection processes that measure the quality of the circuit board is called a Cross Section Analysis or Micro-section. To complete the analysis… Read More

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Advantages of the Gerber X2 Format

Advantages of the Gerber X2 Format

Last year, a new Gerber format was released call Gerber X2 (or version 2) by Ucamco, owners of the Gerber standard. If this is news to you, Ucamco has put together an excellent 5 minute intro video which can be found Gerber X2 Introduction. We thought it would be helpful for designers to hear from a manufacturer regarding what we see as the significant improvements; after all, the X2 format… Read More

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Introduction to IPC Inspection Guidelines

Introduction to IPC Inspection Guidelines

Acceptable Quality Level Before discussing IPC Inspection Guidelines, it’s important to understand the meaning of the term Acceptable Quality Level (AQL), also referred to as Acceptance Quality Limit. It is an inspection standard that prescribes the range of the number of defective components that is considered acceptable when random sampling those components during an inspection. The Acceptance Quality Level determines the maximum number of defective units, beyond which a batch is… Read More

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What is Controlled Impedance and How Is It Measured?

What is Controlled Impedance and How Is It Measured?

One of the most common examples of controlled impedance is the cable that connects the antenna to your television. That cable may be a coaxial cable consisting of a round, inner conductor, separated from the outer cylindrical conductor commonly called the shield by an insulator. The dimensions of the conductors and insulator, and the electrical characteristics of the insulator are carefully controlled in order to determine the shape, strength and… Read More

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Surface Finish Characteristics & Applications for Printed Circuit Boards

Surface Finish Characteristics & Applications for Printed Circuit Boards

The PCB Surface Finish you select may be the most important material decision you make for your electronic assembly. The Surface Finish you select will influence the cost, manufacturability, quality, and reliability of the final product. Just a few years ago, nearly three fourths of all the electronics were produced with SnPb or Hot Air Solder Level (HASL) as the finish. Today, other surface finishes have emerged, including: ENIG, ENEPIG,… Read More

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Functional 3D Inkjet Printing of Solder Mask

Functional 3D Inkjet Printing of Solder Mask

The traditional solder mask process is in danger.  Digital inkjet processing has reached the point where it has become a viable option in the PCB manufacturing industry. Equipment for such an application has been around for a number of years with emphasis placed on printing legend or nomenclature on panels. However, the application of solder mask with the same type of equipment has shown real promise recently. New equipment such… Read More

An Overview of LPI Soldermask and the PCB Manufacturing Process

An Overview of LPI Soldermask and the PCB Manufacturing Process

For many years the only color you would see on a printed circuit board was green.  Maybe a military influence?  The color of the printed circuit board is only a small part of the consideration for the circuit’s design today. Liquid PhotoImagible soldermask, commonly called LPI or LPISM is a two component liquid ink that is mixed just prior to application to preserve its shelf life and is a relatively… Read More

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Our Top 10 Most Viewed Content in 2014

Our Top 10 Most Viewed Content in 2014

Who doesn’t like a good Top 10 list? We added more new content to our website in 2014 than in any year previously and thought it would be interesting to share what was most popular.  So, enjoy our compilation of the top 10 most viewed tools, guides and blog posts on the Bay Area Circuits website for 2014 – and, Happy New Year! #10 Countersinks and Counterbores for Printed Circuit… Read More

Bare Printed Circuit Board Electrical Test

Bare Printed Circuit Board Electrical Test

We can perform a visual inspection following the manufacturing process of a printed circuit board to find any potential problems. While that may work fine for a two-layer PCB, for multi-layer PCBs, it is almost impossible to visually inspect the internal layers once the board has been completed.  Therefore, visual tests are done on inner layers prior to lamination to find any problems and correct them.  However, the only way… Read More

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Things that Scare Electrical Engineers

Things that Scare Electrical Engineers

We all have fears. This Halloween, there are probably a few extra that come to mind. The most common fears we share have not changed much over the years. The top five most common fears are: 1. Fear of flying 2. Fear of public speaking 3. Fear of heights 4. Fear of the dark 5. Fear of Intimacy Any of those in your top five?   However, when you are… Read More

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The Basics – Solder Paste Stencils

The Basics – Solder Paste Stencils

Solder paste stencils in the world of manufacturing electronics and printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) are not so different from the stencils we were all made familiar with in grade school. . They are designed for the exact same purpose: to ease the process of applying a medium only to specific areas for your intended project while protecting the unexposed areas.   Solder Paste Stencils What is a laser cut… Read More

Introduction to Drilling and Vias

Introduction to Drilling and Vias

It wasn’t that long ago a printed circuit board was drilled using a simple drill press.  The operator had to manually move the panel to the correct x and y coordinate and then pull the lever to drill an individual hole.  This process was repeated over and over again until all the holes were drilled. Today, it’s not uncommon for a PCB to have more than 10,000 drill hits of… Read More

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Introduction to InstantDFM; Reduce PCB Prototype Failures

Introduction to InstantDFM; Reduce PCB Prototype Failures

Has this ever happened to you? You have spent hours designing a new circuit board. You have checked and double checked every net, component and trace on the board and you’re confident your design is solid. Off to a PCB manufacturer to order a few prototypes. You receive the boards, load components, add power and…something starts to smoke. Ugggghh! What went wrong? There could be many reasons but more often… Read More

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ENEPIG Plating – A Guide to the Evolution of PCB Finishes

ENEPIG Plating – A Guide to the Evolution of PCB Finishes

The evolution of technology manufacturing is always moving towards a higher level of complexity.   Newer designs have to be lighter, faster and smaller with every iteration of the next device. Not only do we continue to move towards more complex technology as a printed circuit board manufacturer, but we strive to do so in an environmentally friendly way, working to eliminate potentially harmful chemicals for our processes. To that end… Read More

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Cost Determining Factors When Quoting PCBs – Part II

Cost Determining Factors When Quoting PCBs – Part II

Our last post covered many of the cost factors used by a fabricator to calculate cost of a printed circuit board.  For those with industry experience many of these factors may be obvious but there are other factors that contribute to cost that may be less obvious and we’ll cover several of these today. Having an understanding of these cost factors will not only empower buyers to ask the right… Read More