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 than not, the cause can be tracked back to a design that did not comply with standard manufacturing practices of the PCB fabricator.

This is why we created InstantDFM. InstantDFM is a tool for engineers to use Pre-Order, Pre-Quote and Pre-CAM to eliminate design issues prior to fabrication.

While there are many DFM-check tools available to PCB designers, InstantDFM is unique in that is completely web-based; meaning you can upload your design files and view DFM results within the web interface usually in less than a minute.

Five key benefits to using InstantDFM
There are many benefits to using design check tools but here are five key benefits to using InstantDFM before sending a design off for fabrication:

1. Verification of how design data is viewed by the manufacturer.
2. Prevent job from being put on ‘hold’ by surfacing any issues prior to fabrication.
3. Enables manufacturer to ‘CAM the job’ faster and easier preventing additional errors.
4. Makes it easy to quote your job quickly and accurately.
5. It is easy-to-use, fully-automated and FREE!

Why use InstantDFM over other DFM-check tools?
Because InstantDFM is a fully-automated, web-based tool, it provides the simplest and fastest method to get DFM results. Unlike other DFM tools, there’s no need to painstakingly identify each individual layer in your files and no need to worry about the polarity of the layers (positive or negative) – InstantDFM is able to interpret your data and make this determination.

Additionally, InstantDFM is sophisticated enough to recognize the top copper layer from the bottom soldermask layer and put the results in the right order. There’s also no need to enter the board dimensions. InstantDFM will measure the dimensions based on the board outline.

Ready to give InstantDFM a try?
In order for you to get the most out of InstantDFM, the following information explains exactly what it does and how it works.

First, make sure that design files are ready to go in Gerber 274x format with a drill file and an outline. ODB++ files are also acceptable.

Here are things that could cause InstantDFM results to be unreliable or to not complete the process.

• Drill file missing, corrupt or wrong format.
• Board outline not included in a copper layer.
• Misalignment of layers cause the registration to be ‘off’.
• No soldermask layers (results will display but not look right)
• Gerber files not 274x, corrupt, or missing.

After you upload your files and the job has processed the report is broken up on the results page into 5 sub tabs; DFM, Summary, Layers, Get a Quote and More.




InstantDFM checks more than twenty areas of the Gerber files for both outer and inner layers.

[For a better idea of Bay Area Circuits’ capabilities and how to design for these, see our Design Rules page at /design-rules/]

The first six key areas of measurement (which are also displayed graphically) for both inner and outer layers are:

• Copper to Board Edge
• Trace to Plated Hole
• Trace to Non Plated Hole
• Copper to Copper
• Copper Ring (pads around holes)
• Trace Width

This design check will catch the majority of problems with the PCB design related to any of the copper features on the board. If there are any problems that need to be addressed a message will be displayed in the remarks section.

Scroll through the images where each will display a single representation of the smallest measurement found for the six key areas.


Below the graphical display are the smallest measurements found by category. If the smallest measurement is below what is recommended it will be displayed in red. This does not mean that the board cannot be built, but it is something to consider adjusting to improve the manufacturability of the design.















A more complete report is available for download in PDF format (Summary or More tabs) that includes the following Minimum Clearances:

• copper pad to pad
• copper pad to track
• trace to trace
• hole to hole



Summary Tab


The summary tab provides additional details which can be verified including the board dimensions, number of layers, thickness, nets and the mask/silk colors.















A top and bottom view of the board is displayed graphically which provides a visual representation of the design for review.

A complete report is also made available for download here which will display the number of SMD Pads, SMD Density, Number of Nets and Drill Hole Density.



Layers Tab


The layers tab displays the basic stack up of the board with a visual of the drill data. If multiple drill files or blind/buried vias existed in the design they would be represented here. Also included are each of the files uploaded and how they were identified.






















The downloadable report provides additional detail on the identification of the files including complete details on the drill data for hole sizes, number of holes, plating, etc.


Also included on the downloadable report is a section related to the soldermask where the following minimums have been verified:

• Minimum ring mask to pad
• Minimum clearance mask to mask
• Minimum clearance mask to mask SMD (web)
• Minimum clearance mask to copper



More Tab


The More tab provides another opportunity to download the complete DFM report. A ‘FAQ’ page will attempt to address many of the more common questions that may arise.


Get a Quote Tab


OK, you’ve submitted your files through InstantDFM, everything looks good and you’re ready to place an order. What’s next?

If you’d like to receive a quote from Bay Area Circuits, please provide us with your contact information and the quantity and turn times you would like to consider. Multiple quantities and turn times can be entered in the associated fields.

Finally, provide any additional information to consider when pricing your project including:

• Board surface finish
• Board thickness
• Array or rout/score instructions
• Board material types
• Anything other special requirements

We will respond to your quote request as quickly as possible but make every effort to have a quote back within 30 minutes during normal business hours (M-F, 8am – 5pm PST).

If your project is fairly simple and your requirements are basic, please visit our online store at http://store.bayareacircuits.com. We make available 2 to 6 layers boards in a variety of turn times and configurations to suit your needs and budget.

Now that you know what IntantDFM does and how it can help you why not go ahead and give it a try? Visit http://instantdfm.com and try it out now!

If you have comments or suggestions on features you would like to see in InstantDFM we would love to hear your ideas!