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The Superconductive Circuit Board

Custom PCB shapes

Posted by Paul Jackson on Thu, Aug 22, 2013 @ 08:35 AM

In business as in life, we learn more from listening than talking.

PCB trace shapes

We may think our message is getting out but just because we understand our processes completely, doesn’t mean our customers do.

The other day, for example, we received a fairly odd question from an electrical engineer with a product development company we have worked with for many years.

“Can you do round circuit boards?” he asked.
“Yes…” I replied tentatively, thinking there must be so much more to the question.
“So a board that’s three inches round… no problem?” he inquired.
“Absolutely,” I confirmed.

But then I began to think. If a long-time customer doesn’t know we have the capability to produce boards which aren’t just rectangular, how would a new customer know? So we are providing a PCB routing specification guide to help you determine just how wild you can go with a PCB board outline.

  • smallest standard radius for an inside corner: 0.01575"
  • smallest routed slot width 0.0315" 
  • thinnest standard material we can rout: 0.0050"
  • thickest standard material we can rout: 0.1670"
  • largest panel size we can produce: 14”x 18”
  • variety of profiles we can produce: almost infinite

And if you have a special requirement which exceeds these standards, we are always happy to review it. Some of our most fun days are spent doing things that have never been done.

Often, we are provided with PCB designs which need to precisely fit into an enclosure and the enclosure is rarely rectangular. Good examples are hand held devices like game controllers, PC mice and sensors of every shape and size. More often than not, we can hold routed dimensioning to tolerances lower than enclosure manufacturers (sheet metal, die cast or injection molding) can produce.

We sometimes get a kick out of the shape of the boards and will refer to the project as its shape while it’s in production. For example, we just produced a “submarine” which sailed through the shop very well. Last week, we made an “Argyle” panel which looked much more high-tech than its namesake.

In an upcoming blog about Hollywood PCBs, we feature the Printed Circuit Board used in the Cylon visor for the cinematic masterpiece Battlestar Galactica. Okay, maybe it didn’t win critical acclaim and the visor didn’t collect an Emmy for special effects, but we sculpted the PCB from a piece of FR-4 and we are still proud of it.

Unique shapes can consume more time and tooling during the CNC routing process. The result may be an increased cost for your PCB but often the impact is less than the effort required for a product redesign. Normally PCB design engineers don’t express their creativity in their PCB shapes although we do sometimes get a glimpse of it in their silkscreen layers.

So you have to know we do appreciate customers who ask us about our capabilities.

It educates us on how we need to improve our communications and what information we need to provide to all our customers, both established and new. And we know it helps, when we listen.


Tags: electrical engineering, printed circuit board design, printed circuit board manufacturing

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Omni Circuit Boards is an e-sensitive manufacturer of Printed Circuit Boards.

Omni Circuit Boards has been in the printed circuit board fabrication business since 1985. It has been our goal to be as environmentally conscientious as possible.

We are committed to keeping our customers and the future of our children front of mind.

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