Printed Circuit Boards
Printed Circuit Boards
Printed Circuit Boards
OrCAD PCB Editor is based on Allegro PCB Editor, so this book will be useful to new
Allegro printed circuit boards
Editor users as well. Allegro PCB Editor is a powerful, full-featured design tool. While
OrCAD PCB Editor has inherited many of those features, including a common file format, it
does not possess all of the capabilities available to the Allegro PCB tiers, such as
Allegro High-Speed Option, Analog/RF Option, FPGA System Planner, Design Planning, and
Miniaturization Option. Consequently most of the basic tools and features are described
here, but only a few of the more-advanced tools are covered, as outlined later.
PC board traces must be sized appropriately (both in width and thickness, or copper
weight10) to carry the current that you need without excessive temperature rise. A rule of
thumb is that a 10-mil-wide, 1-ounce PC board trace can carry in excess of 500 mA with a 20
°C temperature rise above ambient. PC board copper weight vs. trace thickness is shown in
Table 15.5. An estimate of the current-carrying capability for 20 °C temperature rise of
PC board traces is shown in Figure 15.12. The fusing current (Figure 15.13) for PC board
traces is significantly higher.
OK – So What’s a Printed Circuit Board?
I’ve just mentioned a printed circuit board, but what exactly is a printed circuit
board? Well, look inside any modern electronics appliance (television, computer, mobile
phone, etc.) or even many electrical appliances (washing machine, iron, kettle, etc.) and
you’ll see a printed circuit board – often known by the
A printed circuit board is a thin baseboard (about 1.5 mm) of insulating material such
as resin-bonded paper or fiberglass, with an even thinner layer of copper (about 0.2 mm) on
one or both surfaces. (If copper is only on one surface it’s then known as single-sided
printed circuit board; if copper is on both surfaces it’s known as double-sided printed
circuit board.) The copper on the surface of a printed circuit board has been printed as a
circuit (yes, OK, that’s why it’s called printed circuit board – geddit?), so that
components on the printed circuit board can be soldered to the copper, and thus be
connected to other components similarly soldered. Photo 12.1 shows a fairly modern printed
circuit board to show you what they look like. The printed circuit board shown is quite a
complex one, with hundreds of components – from a computer actually – but the printed
circuit board in a washing machine, say, may only hold a handful of components. Photo 12.2
shows how the copper on a printed circuit board comprises a pattern of copper – sometimes
called the copper track – rather than a solid layer. This pattern or track is the key to
making connections between components.
PCB design begins with an insulating base and adds metal tracks for electrical
interconnect and the placement of suitable electronic components to define and create an
electronic circuit that performs a required set of functions.
The term printed isn’t exactly an accurate description of how the copper on the
surface of a printed circuit board is formed. In fact, all printed circuit boards start
life with a complete layer of copper on one or both sides of the insulating board. Then,
unwanted copper is removed from the board, leaving the wanted copper pattern behind.
Typically, this copper removal is usually – though not always – done by etching the
copper away using strong chemicals.
Figure 12.1 shows a cross-section of a simple printed circuit board. In it you can see
the insulating board, the copper track, and the holes for component leads. Components fit
to the printed circuit quite easily. Their leads are inserted through the board holes, and
are then soldered to the copper track. Figure 12.2 shows how this works. In terms of the
amateur enthusiast in electronics, simple (and relatively inexpensive) hand-tools are all
that are required in this soldering process – we’ll look at these, and how to use them,
Initially, a design specification (document) is written that identifies the required
functionality of the thick copper PCB. From this, the designer creates the circuit design, which is
entered into the PCB design tools.
The design schematic is analyzed through simulation using a suitably defined test
stimulus, and the operation of the design is verified. If the design does not meet the
required specification, then either the design must be modified, or in extreme cases, the
design specification must be changed.
When the design schematic is complete, the PCB layout is created, taking into account
layout directives (set by the particular design project) and the manufacturing process
On successful completion of the layout, it undergoes analysis by (i) resimulating the
schematic design to account for the track parasitic components (usually the parasitic
capacitance is used), and (ii) using specially designed signal integrity tools to confirm
that the circuit design on the PCB will function correctly. If not, the design layout,
schematic, or specification will require modification.
When all steps to layout have been completed, the design is ready for submission for
1.2 EMC on the Printed Circuit Board
Almost every printed circuit board (PCB) is different and completely application
specific. Even within similar products the PCB can be different, for example open two PCs
from different manufacturers, with the same processor, clock speed, keyboard interface,
etc., the actual PCB layout will be different. This diversity means that every
high tg PCB has a
unique level of EMC performance, so what can possibly be done to ensure that this is within
It should not surprise circuit designers that the layout of the PCB can have a
significant effect on the EMC performance of a system, usually more so than the actual
choice of components. Consequently, PCB layout is one of the most critical areas of
consideration for design to meet EMC regulations.
The fact that there are so many different PCB designs in existence is a testimony to
the low cost of producing a PCB, but relaying a complete PCB because of poor layout design
causes significant increases in costs not present in the actual material price of the
board. Relaying a PCB will create a delay in time to market, hence lost sales revenue. New
PCB layouts or changes usually entail new solder masks, reprogramming component placement
machines, rewriting the production instructions, etc., hence cost may not be present in the
final product part cost, but in the development and production overhead.
Although a significant factor in overall EMC performance, the recommendations for
minimising the effect of PCB layout on EMC are general good PCB design practices. The cost
of implementing these recommendations is solely in the time taken to ensure that these good
design practices are implemented, vigilance and experience are the two main requirements,
not necessarily new design software or extensive retraining.
Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are by far the most common method of assembling modern
electronic circuits. They comprise a sandwich of one or more insulating layers and one or
more copper layers which contain the signal traces and the powers and grounds; the design
of the layout of PCBs can be as demanding as the design of the electrical circuit.
Most modern systems consist of multilayer boards of anywhere up to eight layers (or
sometimes even more). Traditionally, components were mounted on the top layer in holes
which extended through all layers. These are referred to as “through-hole” components.
More recently, with the near universal adoption of surface mount components, you commonly
find components mounted on both the top and the bottom layers.
The design of the PCB can be as important as the circuit design to the overall
performance of the final system. We shall discuss in this chapter the partitioning of the
circuitry, the problem of interconnecting traces, parasitic components, grounding schemes,
and decoupling. All of these are important in the success of a total design.
PCB effects that are harmful to precision circuit performance include leakage
resistances, IR voltage drops in trace foils, vias, and ground planes, the influence of
stray capacitance, and dielectric absorption (DA). In addition, the tendency of PCBs to
absorb atmospheric moisture (hygroscopicity) means that changes in humidity often cause the
contributions of some parasitic effects to vary from day to day.
In general, PCB effects can be divided into two broad categories—those that most
noticeably affect the static or DC operation of the circuit, and those that most noticeably
affect dynamic or AC circuit operation, especially at high frequencies.
Another very broad area of high frequency PCB design is the topic of grounding. Grounding is a
problem area in itself for all analog and mixed-signal designs, and it can be said that
simply implementing a PCB-based circuit does not change the fact that proper techniques are
required. Fortunately, certain principles of quality grounding, namely the use of ground
planes, are intrinsic to the PCB environment. This factor is one of the more significant
advantages to PCB-based analog designs, and appreciable discussion in this section is
focused on this issue.
Some other aspects of grounding that must be managed include the control of spurious
ground and signal return voltages that can degrade performance. These voltages can be due
to external signal coupling, common currents, or simply excessive IR drops in ground
conductors. Proper conductor routing and sizing, as well as differential signal-handling
and ground isolation techniques enable control of such parasitic voltages.
One final area of grounding to be discussed is grounding appropriate for a mixed-
signal, analog/digital environment. Indeed, the single issue of quality grounding can
influence the entire layout philosophy of a high performance mixed-signal PCB design—as it
Function of OrCAD PCB Editor in the printed circuit board design process
PCB Editor is used to design the PCB by generating a digital description of the board
layers for photoplotters and CNC machines, which are used to manufacture the boards.
Separate layers are used for routing copper traces on the top, bottom, and all inner
layers; drill hole sizes and locations; soldermasks; silk screens; solder paste; part
placement; and board dimensions. These layers are not all portrayed identically in PCB
Editor. Some of the layers are shown from a positive perspective, meaning what you see with
the software is what is placed onto the board, while other layers are shown from a negative
perspective, meaning what you see with the software is what is removed from the board. The
layers represented in the positive view are the board outline, routed copper, silk screens,
solder paste, and assembly information. The layers represented in the negative view are
drill holes and soldermasks. Copper plane layers are handled in a special way, as described
Fig. 1.17 shows routed layers (top and bottom and an inner, for example) that PCB
Editor shows in the positive perspective. The background is black and the traces and pads
on each layer are a different color to make it easier to keep track of visually. The drill
holes are not shown because, as mentioned already, the drilling process is a distinct step
performed at a specific time during the manufacturing process.
PCBs usually contain epoxy resin, fiberglass, copper, nickel, iron, aluminum and a
certain amount of precious metals such as gold and silver; those materials and metals along
with electronic parts are attached to the board by a solder containing lead and tin. The
main material composition of PCBs was determined and is shown in Table 13.1. From the
table, the composition of metals, ceramic and plastics could reach 40%, 30% and 30%,
respectively. Further, the concentrations of precious metals in waste PCBs are richer than
in natural ores, which makes their recycling important from both economic and environmental
perspectives. Table 13.2 shows the average content and value ratio of different metals in
PCBs. One can see that Au, Cu, Pd and Ag account for nearly all of the economic material
value in waste PCBs. Therefore, PCB recycling focuses on recovering these metals above all
For the technology and engineering of very complex boards, the United States, the
United Kingdom, Germany and France still have a competitive advantage. There is every
reason to believe that the advantage will soon be lost to Asia. Asia produces three-fourths
of the world’s PCBs, with over 1000 manufacturers in China alone. The PCB industry, like
the larger electronics industry, has always had a global component. Only in the past four
years, however, has the US manufacturing base faced a serious decline. In 2003, the United
States produced 15% of the world’s PCBs, trailing Japan, the largest producer at 29%, and
China, the second largest at 17%. Taiwan was the fourth largest producer at 13%. Europe
produced only 10%, and South Korea 8%. No American company is now among the top ten
manufacturers of PCBs. China has overtaken Japan as the leader in PCB production and is
forecast to produce $10.6 billion worth of PCBs, accounting for 25% of the world total