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Component Placement on a PCB Can be Tricky: How to Save Time and Effort with Creative Solutions

The creativity necessary for effective component placement is something that is more similar to what would be required of an artist than an engineer, but the best tech is always created when artistic creativity and scientific accuracy come together in perfect harmony. On that note, today we are going to go through a few creative ways to design the component placement strategy that will help us minimize both time and effort.

Personal Space: ICs Really Do Need It

An Integrated Circuit (IC) will require 0.3500” to 0.5000” of space between them and those are just the standard ICs that we are talking about here. The bigger the integrated circuit is, the more “personal space” it will need!

ICs come with pins and unless there is enough space in between the pins, the engineer will find it impossible to route them without moving them. As moving in a cramped space will have a domino effect, the designer will likely need to do the layout again from the beginning.

You Can Still Optimize Your Connection Routes

Modern PCB design tools like Altium will allow you to optimize the connection routes, after you have converted the schematic to a PCB board model. The main job of this feature is to optimize the laid traces by removing as many intersections and crisscrosses as possible, especially after you move the components around a bit for a more creative and aesthetic design.

Set Boundaries First

We all need boundaries and PCB designs are not an exception to that idea either, except the fact that here, the boundaries are your edge components such as USB ports, power connectors, jacks or whatever else is applicable.

These are also the components which cannot be moved and therefore, when you set them in first, you have a proper idea of the kind of space you will need to work with, in order to create an appropriate PCB design.

Keep IC Pins and Polarized Components Aligned in the Same Direction

Use the inbuilt identifier of each IC to detect where Pin 1 is and then align all your integrated circuits in the same way. Polarized components should be arranged in a similar manner as well by making sure that their positive leads are all aligned with Pin 1. In the end, you will have a PCB design that you won’t need to be corrected, when its actually time to assemble the board in real life.

Why is an Artistic Touch of Creativity Essential in PCB design?

Technically speaking, there is no wrong way to place components, as long as it works, but aesthetics, practicality and symmetry come into play because a PCB is ultimately designed to create a marketable product.

The same schematic can be laid out in a number of different ways, but it’s always the most aesthetically pleasing and functional layout that will be appreciated. Your creativity in PCB design or lack of it, will almost certainly impact the end product’s popularity in the market.


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