PCB Manufacturing Software

Streamline design, schematics, and layout for printed circuit boards with Autodesk Fusion 360 software

What is PCB manufacturing?

PCB (printed circuit board) manufacturing is a process that involves the fabrication and assembly of printed circuit boards. ECAD software can be used to create a digital workflow to streamline everything from PCB schematic design and layout through final board construction.

Stages of the PCB manufacturing process

Taking a printed circuit board from the initial design phase to final assembly and construction involves three primary stages:

PCB design & layout

PCB design & layout

The initial stage begins with taking an idea for a circuit board and turning it into a design file. PCB design software can help create iterative schematics and refine PCB designs for optimized layouts.

 


PCB fabrication

PCB fabrication

PCB fabrication is the manufacturing stage of the process that creates the physical components of a printed circuit board based on the specifications provided in the initial PCB design schematics.

 


PCB assembly

PCB assembly

PCB assembly (PCBA) is the final stage of printed circuit board construction that utilizes a soldering process to mount the fabricated components onto an empty board in the layout from the design phase.

 


Benefits of PCB manufacturing software

PCB manufacturing software can help streamline the digital workflows involved in schematic design, fabrication, and production.

Integration

Fully-integrated software for each stage of the PCB process (from schematic design to fabrication and construction).

Collaboration and file management

Easily manage, share and collaborate on the cloud with the latest design files updated and accessible for all.

Reduce waste and improve efficiency

Save time and money by testing your PCB in a virtual space before construction to reduce the amount of material waste.

Increase accuracy and precision

Using PCB software, you can find and fix potential errors before manufacturing to ensure a higher quality final product.

PCB manufacturing software resources

Learn more about PCB manufacturing software with the following resources from Autodesk.

PCB manufacturing explained in plain english. Learn more about Autodesk Eagle and how it's utilized for PCB manufacturing.

 

Discover design and construction tips for saving money on your printed circuit board with PCB manufacturing software.

 

Learn how to get started with electronics by understanding the printed circuit board (PCB), including components, traces, copper layers, and more.

 

Learn why Fusion 360 allows for easy printed circuit board (PCB) design for industrial designers with ECAD and MCAD integration.

 

PCB manufacturing software FAQs

What is a PCB?

PCB (printed circuit board) manufacturing is a process that involves the fabrication and assembly of printed circuit boards. ECAD software can be used to create a digital workflow to streamline everything from PCB schematic design and layout through final board construction. And regardless of the various technologies each manufacturer utilizes, the majority of the industry-leading facilities follow a specific set of steps to turn a design from the design data package to physical boards. The steps in this process are usually as follow:

  • Data prep
  • Cores/laminate
  • Dry film resist coating
  • Place artwork
  • Expose panels to ultraviolet light
  • Etch
  • Strip resist
  • Oxide coating
  • Multilayer lamination
  • Primary drilling
  • Deburr and clean
  • Desmear
  • Copper deposition
  • Dry film photoresist coat
  • Expose & develop
  • Copper pattern plate (electroplating)
  • Etch
  • Strip resist
  • Solder mask and cure
  • Hot air solder leveling
  • Surface finishes
  • Hot air leveling (HAL, HASL)
  • Legend and cure
  • Fabrication and routing
  • Electrical test/final inspection

What is the PCB material?

While FR-4 is the most commonly used material for PCB design, there are several material choices to consider based on the unique design needs. Before selecting a material, it is recommended to first define the functionality and reliability requirements that the board must meet. As an example, PCBs that are involved in applications requiring high temperatures, would require specific temperature characteristics than PCBs that would be used in a smart home product. These requirements will typically include:

  • Electrical properties
  • Thermal properties
  • Interconnections (soldered components, connectors, etc.)
  • Structural board integrity
  • Circuit density

In addition to the above, other things to consider when it comes to PCB material are:

  • FR4 base material and thickness
  • FR-4 prepreg designation and thickness
  • Copper foil type
  • Copper resistance values
  • Current carrying capacity of copper
  • Finished board thickness

Does PCB manufacturing software work on a Mac?

While Fusion 360 ECAD software works with Macs and Windows operating systems, not all ECAD software are Mac compatibles. If you own a Mac, check the minimum requirement section of the ECAD software you intend to purchase.

How much does PCB manufacturing software cost?

Several different factors will affect the cost of PCB Manufacturing software, but in general, you can expect them to be between $500 and $4000 per year (subscription)

Can I use AutoCAD for PCB design?

AutoCAD is a computer-aided design (CAD) software that is used for precise 2D and 3D drafting, design, and modeling with solids, surfaces, mesh objects, documentation features, and more. And while Autodesk's AutoCAD Electrical toolset includes all the features and tools you need for electrical design, it's not best suited for PCB Design. Autodesk Fusion 360 on the other hand, is a comprehensive tool that can be used for modeling, CAD, CAM, CAE, as well as PCB Design and manufacturing.

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