One important aspect of the printed circuit board manufacturing process that customers should keep in mind is panelization. Just like a cookie cutter divides dough, when printed circuit boards are manufactured, multiple pieces are cut (or routed) out of a large sheet of material called a panel. PCB panelization not only determines the total yield (the number of boards that can fit on a panel), but allows the designer to make dimensional changes to improve overall panel utilization and manage costs.
Bay Area Circuits typically uses 3 standard panel sizes: 9” x 12”, 12” x 18”, and 18” x 24”. The size of the panel used for manufacturing, which largely affects the price per board, is mostly determined by the dimensions, layer count, and desired quantity of the PCBs.
Use our free PCB Panelizer tool (below) to determine how many PCBs will fit per panel. Simply input the panel size, spacing, and board dimensions, and the program will calculate how many boards will fit on each panel.
For first time users, here are some guidelines for determining how Bay Area Circuits panelizes parts:
- Multilayer (3 or more layers) PCBs are only printed on 12”x 18” panels or larger.
- To be conservative, plan for a border (or spacing) of 1 inch around the border of the panel. However, depending on the design the spacing or panel margin for 2 layer boards can be as little as 0.50 inches and 0.75 inches for multilayer boards. The spacing between boards should be 0.1 inches or 0.2 inches for round boards.
- It is highly recommended that the total yield is greater than your desired quantity. This is to account for any possible board failures that may occur during manufacturing.
By utilizing the PCB Panelizer tool to determine how to make the best use of space, customers can save money on larger quantity projects by ensuring the dimensions of their design results in the highest degree of panel utilization.