On 12:07 AM 3/09/2003, Tim Fifield said:
When making a panel is it best to do it in Protel or a gerber tool such as

Tim Fifield

My preferred solution for production boards is to lay up the full panel on the board outline layer, including breakoff strips (or v-groove) information. This panel includes outlines for all the individual boards as well as any production boarders, tooling holes and break-off holes (unplated 0.75mm holes in my case and the only 0.75mm holes in the design). I include dimensions showing the step and repeat.

Then I lay up the design just in one individual board. So I have the full production panel, but just the one board layed up. I then get the PCB maker to do the step and repeat.

This gives me control over the production panel, while still allowing me a fully editable, synchronisable final design file. I do not have to muck about with separate PCB files for the editable form and the final production form (a problem maintaining consistency). The PCB makers I have used to date have been very happy with this.

Prototype or mixed boards are a different issue - with mixed board panels watch out for inconsistent design rules if you are panelising in Protel - especially anything to do with layer stackups and and planes. Remember that copying and pasting from one PCB to another does *not* copy the design rules - best off using Save-As, at least initially, to create a basis for the panel that includes the appropriate manufacturing design rules from one of the (hopefully) consistent individual PCB designs.

Panelising in Protel is a great way to make odd mistakes but can work if you keep very switched on. There are a number of gotchas, but many of us do do it.


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