Optimum Design Associates Blog



What is Product Realization?


The short answer is that product realization is a term used in ISO 9001:2008, referring to the basic design and realization of a product provided to customers, measurable by quality control. The long answer is ISO9001:2008 product realization provides clear, certifiable standards for the process of bringing a product to market. Product realization means a clear idea of what the product will be, usually expressed in drawings, statements of work, functional product specs, or their equivalents.  Based on this clear idea, quality management can objectively determine if the product was "realized" and how efficient the process was.


PCB Design Tips: 5 Need-to-Know Component Assembly Methods

Part of a designer's professional developments should be to learn as much as possible about the activities that go before and come after the layout process. And with today's highly complex designs, the assembly process has grown in importance and has become a major concern for designers. 


Schematic vs. Netlist: A Guide to PCB Design Integration


Integration is the process of adding intelligence to the PCB database by means of a netlist or schematic. This can only occur once all of the necessary library elements for a particular design have been created by a design bureau or by receiving a customer-supplied library. A 100% successful design integration (no errors) will allow the designer to confidently place components, route, and output manufacturing files with the PCB database and schematic in sync. The engineer may supply the data for integration in one of two ways: schematic or netlist.


How to Place a PCB Bypass Capacitor: 6 Tips

The placement of bypass capacitors is one of the most critical phases of the design process. Failure to place them correctly can completely negate their performance. Also critical is a situation in which there are too few capacitors for particular components. This information should be communicated back to the engineer, whenever it occurs, so that the schematic can be updated.


How to Bypass BGA Packages

Knowing how to place a bypass capacitor is a crucial step in PCB design. In most cases, we recommend that the bypass capacitor is placed on the bottom side for ideal proximity to an SMT, all while utilizing extra space. But bypassing BGAs can be slightly trickier. BGAs are high desity components with high pin counts, and it's generally harder to acheive the desired proximity. 


Outsourcing PCB Design: A Primer

Deciding to outsource a PCB design can be a daunting task. Between choosing a design firm to handle the design, knowing what to give them in terms of inputs, ensuring the design meets your specifications, there are myriad opportunities for a problem to arise. Upon deciding who you will be outsourcing the design too, the creation process begins. There are a number of critical steps which must be met for successful completion of a design. Here we’ll try and provide insight to the design process, as well as what is required of both the customer and designer at major milestones within the process.

 Design Process Stages

  • Initial Design Review & Integration
  • Mechanical Definition
  • Placement & Review
  • Routing
  • Pre-Delivery Review
  • Wrap-Up

How to Read a PCB Fabrication Drawing

A fabrication drawing specifies how the PCB is to be manufactured. There are four major sections to a fabrication drawing—Board Illustration, Drill Chart, Section A-A, Notes, and Title Block. 


What is ODB++?

Originally developed by Valor, ODB++ is an electronic database for printed circuit board manufacturing. Created in 1995, it was designed as a way to better organize the transfer of board data from the designer to the manufacturer.


Lean NPI at ODA Part One: Where Are We Now?

For more than twenty years, Optimum Design Associates (Optimum) has offered their customers PCB design and layout services, and also bare-board assembly. Optimum has customers in many application areas in the electronics industry and specialize in very complex PCB designs. To stay at the top of the competitive heap, they employ advanced design techniques and software solutions to ensure the highest quality possible and avoid costly re-spins due to any factor – design errors, data errors, manufacturability problems, signal and power integrity issues, and a host of other potential issues.

Optimum Design Associates designs printed circuit boards following a standardized design flow, ensuring that the requirements of the customers are met, quality levels are high, and the resulting designs are suitable for PCB fabrication, assembly, and test.


Although Optimum has several PCB design tools available, depending on customer compatibility and fabricator requirements, they have used Mentor Graphics tools since the business was founded in 1991. Currently, they employ Mentor Graphics Expedition Enterprise and PADS. With Expedition, they also have Xtreme technology that allows multiple designers to work on the same PCB at the same time.


HDI Layer Stackups for Large Dense PCBs

A few days into a recent project for one of our customers, the lead engineer called me to tell me that the PCB design would have to change…drastically! The design as originally conceived did not seem too difficult—a 20-layer board having active components on one side only, 2.75″ x 4.0″ in size, 284 parts with 2500 pins. That works out to about 228 pins/sq. in. The new requirement was to reduce the board size by 50%. Accomplishing this would prove to be much more difficult, and would require a complete rethinking of the strategies to get the board designed, eventually requiring the use of high-density interconnect (HDI) techniques. What follows is a description of some of the critical design decisions that had to be made along the way toward achieving success in the design effort.

Shrinking the Board

Working with the lead engineer, the first task was to remove all non-essential circuits. After whittling the schematic down to its bare bones and allowing active components to be placed on both sides of the board, we arrived at a final board size of 1.5″ x 1.9″ (2.85″ sq. per side, or 5.7″ sq. total area). This smaller form factor (Fig. 1) resulted in over 900 component pins per square inch of board space, a pin count that is considered very dense, based upon an available but underused, Packaging Map Formula[1]. The resulting pin count ended up well into the HDI region of this chart, so there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that this was going to be an HDI design.