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What tools do you need for your PCB design

When one thinks of tools, the images that usually come to mind are hammers, saws, welding tools, etc. But when it comes to printed circuit board design, the term ‘tool’ is used in a different manner. For the most part, tools for PCB design comprise electronic software for Gerber and excellon files, CAD software, and the Internet for finding the right avenues to source your components from. There are also a few materials that can be termed as ‘physical tools’ like stencils and soldering tools.

Using PCB Design Tools

All the above mentioned tools and materials are used by the engineer during the design and manufacturing phases of PCB construction. These phases begin when all the required materials are allocated, the basic framework of the printed circuit board has been drawn, and a proper grid has been sketched to understand the working of the PCB.

  • Stencils: Stencils are stainless foils that are used to apply the solder paste onto the board. A solder mask is used to prevent any excess solder paste deposition on selected areas.
  • Soldering Machine: This is used to attach and fix all the electrical components onto the Printed Wiring Board. Usually, the soldering machine comprises a lead or tin solder.
  • CAD Software: Computer Aided Design (CAD) software is used by engineers to transfer the basic design from paper to the computer. The software is used to define the schematics, components, and connections within the PCB.
  • Gerber File: Gerber is a file format that is used when the engineer creates the artwork for the process of circuit board imaging.
  • Excellon File: This is also known as drill file. It is a file format that is used to govern the sizes and locations of finished holes on the printed circuit board. Excellon files usually contain information about drill tool number, hole size and quantity, and whether or not the holes are plated.

All of these tools are extremely important when creating various layers and using different components to manufacture printed circuit boards for complex applications.

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