The Superconductive Circuit Board

    A PCB Manufacturer’s Brush with Market Research

    A how-to conduct market research for small and medium tech businesses

    For SME businesses, conducting market research can be a daunting task which above all else requires the skill of listening.

    Understanding PCB Manufacturing: Impedance Control

    Printed circuit boards with impedance requirements demand a high level of precision.

    Image courtesy of Zmetrix

    For standard circuit boards, a PCB manufacturer is given a set of patterns - copper patterns, hole patterns, ink patterns, which are combined into a single circuit board with all the pattern sizes and positions within certain tolerances. Failure to meet a certain size or position with the specified tolerance can be cause for the circuit board to be rejected. If a trace has been defined as an impedance control trace, it is not the trace size which is strictly defined, but rather the impedance. While a nominal trace size will be provided in the Gerber layer, it is understood the circuit board manufacturer can vary trace width, height, and dielectric thickness as long as the final impedance is within tolerance.

    Understanding PCB Manufacturing: Hard Gold Plating

    Plating Hard Gold onto printed circuit boards is typically done to provide contact points and PCB edge connectors.

    Gold contact surfaces are often used on circuit boards with membrane switches which are a technology of choice for industrial, commercial and consumer products. When PCBs will be repeatedly installed and removed electroplated gold is used for edge-connector contacts or as they are more commonly known: Gold fingers. It is difficult to hear the term Gold finger without remembering the villain Auric Goldfinger from the James Bond film of 1964. However, the gold fingers (gold-plated contact pins) found on PCBs are quite unlike Auric’s stubby, fat digits. To begin with, the plating thickness of a PCB gold finger is typically a mere 300 micro-inch. At this thickness the hard gold is expected to survive 1,000 cycles before wear through.

    How to Get the Best Printed Circuit Board Quote

    Some people look at purchasing printed circuit boards with the same zeal and excitement as Lady Gaga shopping in East Hampton. While others treat it with some trepidation.