Panelize pcb

The purpose of PCB panel is to secure PCB boards during manufacturing, assembly, depanelization and shipping as painless as possible. In mass production or quick turn PCB assembly orders, many PCB assembly manufacturers will use panelization to optimize output. The placement machines are able to secure the components to the boards as they move down the manufacturing line.

But in low volume or prototype PCB orders, panelization may not be required. There are some methods to make panel in design and front-end CAM engineering stages, and some certain restrictions on panelization such as thickness and distance between individual circuit boards as well as the overall weight of the components.

If a PCB board could be compromised due to lack of strength, the design will have to redone. As we know, V-cut also named V-groove and Routing are the 2 common panelization methods. With this method, PCBs are pre-cut from the array and held in place on the board with perforated tabs. This method is often beneficial for its ability to support designs with edge-hanging components. It can also be broken by hand instead of with tools. PCB Panelization. Home PCB Panelization.

What is PCB Panelization? PCB Panelization Methods There are some methods to make panel in design and front-end CAM engineering stages, and some certain restrictions on panelization such as thickness and distance between individual circuit boards as well as the overall weight of the components. Quick Links.You even made sure your board fits perfectly within the tight enclosure of your final product.

Eager for your business, the sales liaison will likely recommend you make it bigger or try panelization. PCB panelization it is. PCB panelization is a manufacturing technique in which smaller boards are manufactured en-masse connected together as a single array, making it easier to move through an assembly line.

The individual boards can easily be depanelized or removed from the array for packaging or installation into a product. Alternatively a PCB processing edge around an individual board to increase its width to fit on the assembly line. PCB-array strength. Increasing board count per array can increase strength and reduce vibration. Component layout. Placement of components and connectors, especially those hanging off the edge of a board can limit your panelization options.

Be mindful of the location of sensitive SMT surface mount technology components towards the edge of a board. PCB shape.

Panelizing PCBs: Methods and Challenges

The shape of your board can complicate panelization. Use a CAD program to fit unusually shaped boards into an array. Tooling holes. Arrays and break-away processing edges can give you space for tooling holes for automated testing on the assembly line.

panelize pcb

Common advantages of PCB panelization include:. Mass production. If you need to build a lot of boards, panelization will save you time and money. Product safety. Panelization protects the PCB from shock and vibration experienced during assembly. Speed and efficiency. Standard panel sizes. There are many ways to depanelize an array of smaller boards. Which you use often depends on how you chose to connect the boards to each other in the panel:.

V-grooves: Also known as v-scoring, this method involves tracing a v-shaped cut along the top and bottom edge of the panel. A fixture or machine must be used to depanel it, as manual removal can put undue strain on components towards the edge. Tabs: Individual circuits can be connected to the panel frame via narrow tabs which can be snapped or broken to remove the individual boards.

These can be subjected to a number of manual or automated processes. Manual: Remember those plastic model cars, planes, and robots you used to build as a kid? Boards can be cut or even popped out of a panel by hand or using a tool or fixture, however this labor intensive step is being phased out due to quality concerns and the rise of automation.

The fixture and blades must often be custom made for the board. Depaneling router: Similar to a wood router, this machine has a bit that can be used to cut boards from a panel.

panelize pcb

Laser cut: Sometimes called a laser router, lasers are suitable for designs with tight tolerances or unusual shapes. The process is entirely automated, can be used to carve any path including curves and sharp corners, and does not generate any mechanical stress.

Designing your boards with panelization in mind can prevent unplanned delays and redesigns. Cadence PCB solutions is a complete front to back design tool to enable fast and efficient product creation.

Panelizer Tool

Cadence enables users accurately shorten design cycles to hand off to manufacturing through modern, IPC industry standard.This tutorial was done on Windows. Authors claim it could also be used on Linux by using Mono, but I haven't tried and don't understand a lot about Mono to see what could be done. This is the GitHub issue describing steps to launch it on Linux, half-successfully thanks to jlbrian7 for figuring this out. The panelizer project page has some tips for Eagle users as well, related to CAM files, so if you're an Eagle user, check it out, it can help with some moments.

I'd love to cover Gerber generation for different EDA packages actually, notbut Internet has plenty of tutorials on those. There's a good online Gerber files viewer needs gerber ZIPs which gives out pretty renderings of your board, so you can use it to check your Gerbers - I do that all the time and KiCad 3D viewer helps, too. No matter your EDA tool, the workflow is simple - first, you have to have gerber files in separate folders for each project.

Generate gerbers for each project that you want to include on the panel. You should have a couple of separate folders with gerber files - or in case you want to panelize multiples of the same board, just one folder. The workflow is simple - drag a folder from your file manager onto the view, and the board inside the folder will be added.

You'll get a 10x10cm panel view. If it's not the case, or you want another size, you might change panel parameters in "Panel Properties". Now, you need to drag a folder with gerbers onto the view. The collapsible list in the right top corner will indicate there's a board and, if you're lucky, it's going to appear on the field, too.

Necessary: leave some distance between adjacent boards: the mill bit that will be milling out the board outline has to have some place to move. Good distance is 2mm and up. After we placed some boards, we need to place tabs connecting them, and I think it makes sense to do it manually.

Hover mouse cursor on the space between the board and press T on keyboard, you're going to get a circle. Move that circle to the place where you want a tab and it'll link two boards. If it won't be able to, the circle outline will be red and it'll give a warning in small text, hopefully.

Too many tabs will make dividing boards hard. Not enough tabs will give a chance of boards breaking off and getting lost after milling. I more or less have one tab per each board in total, there's also "1 tab per 3cm" rule of thumb. This is OK:.Whether you have a slew of PCBs to mass produce for your customers or a handful of project boards you wish to prototype all in one simple swoop, panelization is an effective way to bring high amounts of efficiency to your production.

In earlier days of PCB design, you would need additional software, hours of clunky engineering, and maybe even feasibility meetings with manufacturing teams for PCB panelization. Not only do manufacturing teams now expect it, but the software surrounding panelization has never been easier to implement.

With the proper PCB design software, you can prepare Gerber files and layout for panelization easier than ever. This is huge when it comes to deep design edits in that it makes integrating each file together a breeze. Rather than having to edit each child document, Altium takes care of this for you.

Ensure your edge clearance values are cohesive to your placements! Maybe this is another design that you just want to toss into the manufacturing batch, maybe you are working with limited printing space, whatever the reason, you can pick and place as many various boards as you wish. Vertically placed PCBs with one skewed. As we explored in an earlier articlewe can easily define any board shape we want by simply tracing out a shape over the top of our placements.

Redefined board shape with the outline. Long gone are the days of additional, clunky panelization software. To learn more about how Altium can be your new best DFM friend and make your panelization efforts, well, effortless, talk to an Altium expert today.

Plan for Fabrication with the Best PCB Panelization Software

Information for EDA Leaders. More content by Altium Designer. The Eternal Search for the All-in-One In this article we discuss the pain points of using a single data management system over linking many together. Read Article. High speed busses like Watch Video.

This lets you quickly create variants of a PCB layout without rerouting traces or changing your schematics. If you plan to use jumpers in your PCB layout, there are some important guidelines to follow to Read Article. Top 9 Engineering Laptops for Read to know which are the best engineering laptops for ! The client ultimately had to take it on faith that we knew what we were doing and could deliver what we promised.

Using Cellular for Internet of Things Devices and Design Cellular internet of things products are widely accessible and easy to design thanks to standard cellular modem modules and transceiver components.

Back to Home.Explore the latest content from blog posts to social media and technical white papers gathered together for your convenience. The documentation area is where you can find extensive, versioned information about our software online, for free.

panelize pcb

Browse our vast library of free design content including components, templates and reference designs. Stay up to date with the latest technology and industry trends with our complete collection of technical white papers. Every designer is concerned with producing the highest quality product as efficiently and effectively as possible. The complete set of DFM features and panelization tools in Altium Designer will help you prepare for your next PCB manufacturing run and source components for your design.

For this design, you need to specify how your manufacturer will fabricate your board. To do this you will need to create your own panel for the PCB design.

Printed circuit board designs are put into standard panel sizes for manufacturing. These panels allow the board or boards to be smoothly run through the manufacturing process, and afterwards the boards are separated from each panel.

Altium Designer has all the tools you need for the panelization of your PCB designs. Take your new circuit board from design to manufacturing with Altium Designer. Creating a panel requires more than just drawing a rectangle around your board outline. In addition, multiple boards with the same stackup can share the same panel, and each board might be stepped and repeated on the same panel.

The goal in PCB panelization is to fit as many copies of a circuit board as possible into an array on a panel. The panel size is predetermined by your materials supplier or PCB manufacturer, so you need to work with your manufacturer to create your panels. Some manufacturers will do this for you, but you can save yourself some time and expense if you have the right design tools for PCB panelization. You need to be able to rotate and flip boards so that you can fit the maximum number of boards into your panel.

Learn more about the PCB panelization process. Required documentation includes a list of parts and sourcing data in your bill of materials, which should also match the reference designators in your design files. PCB manufacturers could require design files, including panel drawings, in any number of formats.

Your design software should be adaptable to accomodate any set of deliverables for PCB manufacturing. Your design tools should give you everything you need to generate documentation in standard file formats. This includes files showing panel artwork, as well as universal design files and a bill of materials. Learn more about PCB manufacturing documentation packages.

The goal of PCB design work is to create the best possible design for the least amount of money. The rules-driven design engine in Altium Designer has all the design features you need to take your circuit board from idea to mass manufacturing and assembly.

Everything you need to prepare a real circuit board, including PCB panelization, is included in Altium Designer. Finally, the deliverable generation tools give you everything needed to prepare for a full manufacturing run. Altium Designer on Altium delivers an unprecedented amount of integration to the electronics industry until now relegated to the world of software development, allowing designers to work from home and reach unprecedented levels of efficiency. We have only scratched the surface of what is possible to do with Altium Designer on Altium You can check the product page for a more in-depth feature description or one of the On-Demand Webinars.

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All Resources Explore the latest content from blog posts to social media and technical white papers gathered together for your convenience.You can check out this great interview with [Laen] from OSH Park to get an idea of how this works, but the basic process is to take a bunch of Gerbers, add tabs and mouse bites, solve the knapsack problem, and send the completed panel off to a board house.

For small-scale production and prototypes, bare boards will do just fine. This is how you panelize boards quickly and easily using Open Source tools. Panelizing boards, or putting multiple copies of a board in a single Gerber file, is nothing new. All of these have their downsides. Putting more than one board design on a panel is not covered by the usual tools and tutorials. Most methods of panelizing boards only work with rectangular boards.

Altium will do anything, but Altium is pricey. What I need is a method to take more than one weirdly-shaped board, and put it on a rectangular panel. Need an example of this? This is a weird-shaped board, designed to fit into a rectangular panel for automated assembly. Instead of v-grooves, the board is simply milled out of the panel, held on with mouse bites, or small tabs of fiberglass and holes. Extremely clever implementations of this technique also allow for pads and traces on the panel for programming each individual board.

Using Gerber Panelizer could not be simpler. All you have to do is set up the size of the panel, drop. After your computer does a little bit of thinking, you get a panel of boards, ready to send to a fab.

This is the best example of what Gerber Panelizer can do. With this tool, you can panelize oddly-shaped boards, and put more than a single design on a panel. Gerber Panelizer is a great tool that allows you to quickly and easily stitch multiple Gerber files together into a single, easily-manufacturable board. This means the software is offered without support, and often with broken features. Gerber Panelizer is not without significant issues, although some of the blame can be directed at KiCad.

The KiCad philosophy makes a distinction between milled, plated layers and the final cutout of the board. GKO and. GML Gerber files.

panelize pcb

KiCad, in its infinite wisdom, decided the cutout layer of the board should use the file extension. GM1 as an output Gerber.Automated circuit board assembly equipment often has trouble working with smaller boardsresulting in more frequent defects during the assembly process. To minimize these defects and improve the throughput of the manufacturing process, many companies use a process called panelization, resulting in a PCB panel.

Once assembled, the panel is then broken apart, or depanelized, into the individual PCBs during the breakout process. The benefit of the printed circuit board panelization process is a decrease in defects as automated assembly machines tend to encounter fewer problems during the assembly process. In addition, panelization also reduces cost by improving throughput.

Successful PCB panelization requires multiple design specifications to work properly, including considerations surrounding panelization methods. Multiple panelization methods exist, each with its own drawbacks and benefits. The design of the boards on the panel and the panel itself will often play a large role in which panelization method best suits the application.

The most notable of these factors include:. These factors limit the choices available to any one application. In fact, many assembly companies may use a combination of methods on any one project to ensure the structural integrity of the array while still mitigating issues during the breakout process. There are three panelization techniques in use today, though only two are commonly practiced. They are:. A machine is commonly used to finish the breakout process, considering the remaining third of the board between the grooves is surprisingly strong, and hand-breaking can put stress on the PCB and surrounding components.

With this method, PCBs are pre-cut from the array and held in place on the board with perforated tabs. Three to five holes are often used in these perforation patterns. This method is often beneficial for its ability to support designs with edge-hanging components.

It can also be broken by hand instead of with tools. Solid Tab Panelization: Arrays can be designed with solid tabs between each board, improving overall strength. However, the depaneling method for this type of panel requires either a depaneling router, a laser-cutting machine or a hook-shaped blade tool. The router can result in dust and vibration, while the laser-cutter is extremely expensive and ineffective on boards over 1mm thick. The hook-bladed option is less expensive but inefficient and prone to blade rotation.

This method tends to be less common than the other two. V-Score and Tab Routing are the preferred panelization methods for most applications. The most important thing for PCB designers is understanding which of the two methods is best for their application. The next step is to design their array for maximal strength and breakout success. Many prefer the V-groove panelization method when possible for its efficiency and reduction in surface stress.


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