PCB Configurator, our calculator goes visual

PCB Configurator – visualised ordering saves time and cuts costs.

“How can we make the ordering process faster, safer and simpler for our customers?  How can we present them with the widest choice of technologies, deliveries, quantities and prices so that every order is optimised to their requirements?”.  These are some of the questions we asked ourselves when we started to redesign our user interface.

We made changes to our service structure (our blog about the new services).  We made changes to our pricing structure (logic behind our new pcb price calculator).  But we also introduced powerful new features into the ordering process itself.

Data analysis and verification – the PCB Configurator bonus

We launched PCB Visualizer in July 2012.  Users immediately acknowledged the extra confidence it gave them that their data was correct for their order and that there would be no delivery delays due to data issues.  The analytical power of PCB Visualizer is central to the new ordering process.  For each of the four PCB services you have two ordering options:

calculate or analyse

  • Price Calculator.  First calculate your price in the new Calculate and order menu; then upload your data into your “Shopping basket” and run PCB Visualizer to check that the data is correct to your intentions.  You can then be confident that you will get the boards you need on the day you need them.
  • Analyse your data.  First upload your data.  Let PCB Visualizer analyse it.  Review any issues that have been flagged up.  When the data is good, open PCB Configurator.  This will show the Calculate and order menu but with many of the fields already completed.  You will get your price faster as you spend less time  ferretting out production parameters (like minimum track and gap) and entering them into the menu.  And you know that the data is correct to deliver the right board on the right day.

Smart menus

Most of our customers are design or purchasing professionals, not PCB fabrication experts.  But PCB fabrication parameters have a powerful influence on board price.  We asked ourselves how we could convey this information in a simple and straightforward way within the ordering process. The result?  Smart menus, using three key components:

  • Wizards.  For example, a “Pre-defined build-up” wizard shows a wide range of pre-set builds, all part of our STANDARD or RF pooling options.  Design one of these into your board to keep costs down and make ordering straightforward.

buildup wizard
  • Technical validations.  Not all possible combinations of features can be manufactured successfully (for example, fine tracks and gaps combined with heavy copper foils).  There are scores of validation checks built into the Calculate and order menu, too many to put into a “book of rules”.  As soon as an invalid combination is entered, the menu flags it up and gives a clear explanation of the issue.  Use this to check possible combinations at the design stage and also when you order.  That way you know that your board can be made successfully and there will be no delays at the production stage.

technical validations
  • Price guidance.  Different technology options and design parameters can increase the final board price.  Whenever you enter a board parameter that increases the price from the service default settings, the system will flag a warning, a single coin for a more expensive pooling option, and a double coin for a non-poolable [link] option.  Of course, you may need the more expensive option (for example, electroless gold over nickel instead of our choice of any lead-free finish) or a 3 day turnaround instead of a 7 day turnaround.  But the accumulated information can help towards cutting board costs in future.
coin double coin


Matrix pricing

Do you need prices for alternative quantities or deliveries so that you can get the best price to meet your requirements?  The Calculate and order menu automatically generates a matrix of prices based on different deliveries and on our “preferred quantities”  A single click opens a custom matrix option where you can enter your own choice of deliveries and quantities, pick the optimum, and place the order, confident that you have the lowest price that meets your own production requirements.

customer definable pricing wizard preferred quantity alternatives


Order process details

If you are an existing Eurocircuits user, you can find a summary of the differences between the old order process and the new here .  If you are new to Eurocircuits, welcome; there is afull user guide here.  If you need more help, there are links to our online technology guides listed with the user guide, or contact us at euro@eurocircuits.com .

The logic behind our new PCB Calculator

New web site, new PCB services => new prices.

Prior to the launch of our new website, we took the opportunity to review every aspect of our pricing structure to make sure that we were providing the best overall deal for our customers.  Let’s look at the major changes.

1. Board size.

To offer good prices for prototype and small batch PCBs we use order-pooling production technology.  Order-pooling means that we combine several orders with the same technical specifications onto large production panels.

Within the pooling panel, circuits are priced by their size (the amount of the panel each circuit occupies) and by their “pooling efficiency”.  Smaller circuits are more efficient as they allow a better material utilization on the panel; the better the panel utilization, the lower the cost of the individual circuits.

For the review of our pricing structure, we analyzed several years of panel utilization statistics.  As a result, the new pricing structure reflects more accurately the true cost of production on the shop floor.  We have held or reduced prices for smaller PCBs (100 x 80 mm or less).  Larger circuits and delivery panels pool less efficiently so there is more wasted material.  For these boards prices increased somewhat.  However, an accurate costing system is your guarantee for reliable prices and continuity of service for the future.

 panel with goodfill factor  panel with bad fill factor


Also read our BLOG on large boards and pooling we published earlier

2. Technical parameters.

To guide you towards the most cost-effective combination of price and technology, if you select an option that introduces extra cost, one of the coin symbols will appear.  The small coin symbol means that the option is poolable.  The double coin symbol means that the option is not poolable, and will be charged on a whole panel basis.

coin double coin

Technical parameter changes are:

  • Bare Board Testing is now included in the price for 2 layer boards. Previously this only applied to multilayer boards. BBT is now only a chargeable option for 1 layer boards where it is rarely required.
  • We have simplified the pricing of customer delivery panels.  V-cut, break routing, panel without cross out, different images on one panel etc.- none of these affect the price.
  • Pooling now includes more build-ups which were previously not poolable.  More predefined poolable build-ups keep down costs where specialist build are required.
  • Bringing all technical classification options of STANDARD pool, TECH pool and On Demand for FR-4 boards together in one service STANDARD pool creates a more gradual price increase for higher technology classes than the standard class 6C. Now also in between classifications are possible like 6D or 7D in pooling, making sure that extras are only applied as the DRC on the data requires it.
  • We no longer make any price difference between 0, 1 or 2 white legends on the board.
  • In advanced options, only Carbon contacts, Press-fit holes and Heatsink paste are non-poolable options.

3. Delivery terms.

a. Order areas smaller than 50dm²:

7WD is now the standard delivery term, regardless of the number of layers. This introduces a significant price reduction for multilayers delivered in up to 7WD.

b. Order areas smaller than 300dm² and larger than or equal to 50dm²:

For these orders 10WD is now the standard delivery term, regardless of the number of layers. This introduces a significant price reduction for all orders delivered in 10WD as the old standard delivery term was 25WD and 10WD carried a premium.

c. Order areas smaller than 1.000dm² and larger than or equal to 300dm²:

15WD is now the standard delivery term for these orders, regardless of the number of layers.  This introduces a significant price reduction for these orders delivered in 15WD as the old standard delivery term was 25WD and 15WD carried a premium..

e. Order surfaces equal or larger than 1.000dm² have as standard delivery term 20WD.


4. Preferred quantities.

One of the parameters determining pooling possibilities and efficiency is the quantity.

To rationalize the options and to achieve better results here we favour a set of rounded quantities: 1 – 2 – 5 – 10 – 20 – 30 – 40 – 50 – 100 – 150 – 200 – 250. Any of these quantities will give a small to more significant discount depending on the delivery term.

The discount for preferred quantities is higher for shorter delivery terms.

In the automatically presented alternatives on the bottom right of the calculator, we will always present preferred quantities and better priced delivery terms as well as one shorter than asked whenever possible.



5. Stencils.

The formula for the price calculation of the stencils has been changed bringing prices down in general. Stencils that are eC-registration compatible are favorite.

6. Limits of our service.

We would like to again point out that our strength lies in prototypes and small series. To ensure that we can offer a full service to all our customers all of the time we have limited the area of board available for each combination of layers and delivery terms. The following table shows these limits in dm² per layer and delivery term for the automatic online calculation system. Combinations outside these limits might be possible depending on the production loading in our factories. Ask for a quotation if you require something special.

surface-layer table

Finally by making our prices as competitive as possible with respect to the real costs of production, we offer a WIN-WIN situation with you, our customer.

The Eurocircuits Team


PCB services based on material choice

New PCB services based on choice of base material

Ordering a PCB online needs to be straightforward and fast – engineers and buyers are always under time-pressure.  It needs to be accurate so that there are no delays while data issues are resolved or worse, incorrect boards delivered.  It needs to be smart, guiding the customer to the best combination of technology, delivery and price.  Cost-pressures across the industry mean that fabricators must work continuously to keep prices down, but at the same time the pricing structure must be accurate, reflecting the true costs of production.  Only an accurate price structure can give the customer a reliable cost-base for future planning and the manufacturer the resources to invest in the new technology his customers will surely require.

Our new ordering menus been designed to meet these goals.  Changes to our pricing structure are highlighted in our blog on pricing logic The new data checking procedures are described in more detail in the blog introducing PCB Configurator.  This blog looks at the new service structure.

Four services based on material


Eurocircuits services

Today we have four services based on the base-material used.  “How do I choose which service to use?”  Simple: which base material do you want? FR4, RF or aluminium-backed?  Choose
  • PCB proto or STANDARD pool for FR4
  • RF pool for RF materials
  • IMS pool for aluminium-backed.

More options

Each service (except the tightly focussed PCB proto) offers a range of options, divided into poolable and non-poolable – see the Eurocircuits leaflet with Technical specifications

What does this mean?  We specialise in prototype and small batch PCBs.  We need a cost-effective production strategy to handle a large number of small orders (over 60,000 in 2012).  The solution is order-pooling – we combine different orders with the same specifications on large production panels.  Sometimes called “panel sharing” or “order combination”, pooling orders cuts manufacturing costs.  It streamlines production, optimises material utilisation, and spreads tooling and set-up costs.  The result?  Lower prices and we don’t charge for tooling.

Successful pooling depends on having enough orders of the same specification to be able to fill the pooling panels.  Thanks to our expanding user base we have been able to add many more options to our STANDARD FR4 pooling service.  Many options which previously had to be individually costed and quoted can now be priced and ordered directly online. This can save up to 24 or so hours on time-critical jobs.

“Non-poolable” options.

Of course our customers still need some options which are not ordered often enough to make pooling feasible.  The new ordering structure can cope with these.  The Technical Overview includes columns for “non-poolable” options. A “non-poolable” option in a pooling service may sound a bit strange, but it means that in a single menu you can access the whole range of technology options, both poolable and non-poolable. Now you can compare directly the costs of different technologies and find the solution which offers the best combination of performance and price.

Not only that, the services also include smart menus which actively flag an option which increases the price of the PCB.  If you select a non-poolable option a double coin symbol  will alert you.  Hover your mouse over it to see the explanation.  Non-poolable options cannot share the cost-benefits of pooling, but we still offer our customers a flexible solution.  We need to make the order in whole production panels.  For the same price you can order as many circuits as fill the panel.

double coin

New ordering procedures

The new ordering menus include new features to ensure faster and safer ordering, to guide you to the best prices, to reduce the risk of deliveries being delayed by data issues, and to cut down the amount of data you need to enter by hand.  These are all explained in our Configurator blog.

Pratical user guide lines are outlined in two articles:

– user guide lines for existing customers (what”s new)

– user guide lines

Service summary

PCB Proto


PCB proto

Dedicated designer prototype service – fast and low cost.

PCB proto offers Eurocircuits’ default technology to build functional FR4 prototypes suitable for most requirements, fast and at the lowest possible cost. Default technology makes ordering fast and easy, keeps costs down and speeds manufacture by dropping features typically needed only for production runs (specific surface-finishes, soldermask colours etc.).

To ensure correct prototype performance all boards are 100% DRC checked, profiled to your design, electrically tested and fully finished with 2 solder-masks and 1 or 2 legends as required.  See full specification here




Standard pool

The widest range of FR4 PCB options in a single menu structure

Our STANDARD pool service covers your needs for standard PCB production up to 16 layers using design technology down to 90 microns. A single clear smart menu structure gives you immediate access to our wide range of pooling and non-pooling options.

The menu will flag non-poolable items, so that you can change them for lower cost pooling options where possible.

Pooling prices are based on panel-sharing. Non-pooling prices are based on a production panel specific to the option and the job. Boards can be supplied as single circuits or panels. The standard price matrix shows alternative (lower-cost) quantities and deliveries, or set your own custom matrix.  See full specification here.

RF pool.



RF pool
All the benefits of pooling on RF materials

Eurocircuits’ “RF pool” service offers the cost benefits of order-pooling to designers of RF PCBs. RF pool covers a broad spectrum of technology including 2 types of material, 2- and 4-layer PCBs and a range of build-up options including mixed RF and FR4, all at acceptable prices.  See full specification here.

RF pool uses Isola IS680 as the base material for order pooling.  IS680 has been developed by Isola to provide a lower cost solution for commercial RF and microwave PCBs. It offers excellent electrical properties, stable over a broad frequency and temperature range.  More information about this material on the Isola group website . We offer Rogers 4000 series materials as a non-poolable option.



IMS pool

IMS pool
 Aluminium-backed PCBs for high heat-dissipation (LED) applications.

More and more of our customers are developing new designs for high-intensity LED, power conversion and automotive applications. These need Insulated Metal Substrate boards for better heat dissipation management. To meet these customer demands we have created a new service offering all the benefits of our other order-pooling services for aluminium-backed PCBs.  See full specification here.

Pilot the eC-reflow-mate

How to pilot the eC-reflow-mate?

Watch the program on the eC-reflow-pilot:

program ec pilot


  • On the left hand side we see that the bottom heater is set to follow the top heater with a difference of -40°C. So a top heater reading of 200°C would steer the bottom heater to 160°C. (more about pre-heater).
  • The reflow TAL time is set to 15 seconds. This means that when reaching the highest temperature point in the curve, the oven controller will keep that temperature for at least 15 seconds. When this function is set, the oven will heat until the highest temperature is reached, regardless in which time frame. It will hold the temperature for 15 seconds in this case and then jump back to that highest point in the curve and continue the rest of the curve. (see also eC-reflow-mate hold time and eC-reflow pilot hold time).
  • The curve itself looks unsmooth and when performing a solder test we can see that the temperature shown in the temperature scope in the bottom part of the screen, does not follow the theoretical curve at all. What is happening?

Controlling the oven is like driving a car.

heating up
  • The first step we step in our curve is jump to 100°C in a few seconds. That is not going to happen. It”s like pushing the gas lever of your car when the traffic light turns green. The car is not jumping from 0Km/H to 70Km/H in 0 seconds flat. It needs time to accelerate. The oven reacts in the same way. Telling the oven to heat up, will launch a current through the Infrared lamps. This current will heat up the lamp wire which then will start to heat up the oven and the board. It will take some time.
  • The second section of the curve reflects a slow acceleration. After you have told your car to accelerate, you release somewhat the gas lever, giving your car time to accelerate slowly to the 70Km/H desired. The same you do with the oven.
  • Whenever the oven reaches the highest point of the curve depends on the type of board you are soldering. Heavy copper boards will require more time. Time is exactly the only parameter to manipulate the curve: “time”. When you do not know how a board is going to react, it is best to solder it using the external sensor and thus measuring the temperature on board and using the reflow TAL function, explained above to guarantee that you reach the reflow temperature.

Cool down, open the door.


door open
  • The next point is the door open point. The temperature will never drop like we define in the theoretical curve. What we set is “hit the brakes” like we do with our car when we see a red traffic light. Only in case of the oven it means that we stop heating. From that point on the oven will cool down very slowly as he is very well insulated. From the moment that the temperature reaches the temperature set in the door open point, the door will open. The door open point is temperature controlled and not time controlled as we need to be below solder temperature before we open the door thus no components will move anymore.

Eurocircuits and conflict minerals

What are conflict minerals?



Conflict minerals are minerals originating from areas of armed conflict and human rights abuse, notably in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

These minerals are traded through middlemen from neighbouring countries, so countries where conflict materials can originate from include also Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo Republic, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.



The most commonly mined minerals are cassiterite, wolframite,coltan, and gold, which are extracted from the Eastern Congo,  We are concerned about cassiterite (basis for making tin) and gold, as these metals are used in our production process.


We contacted our suppliers for these metals and got confirmation that the material we receive from them do not origin from conflict areas. Based on this information we can issue a conflict minerals declaration.

Supporting documents :

Eurocircuits conflict minerals declaration   conflict minerals declaration.pdf

Felder conflict minerals declaration (supplier of tin for HAL)   felder konflikt-metalle.pdf

Confirmation Safina ( supplier of gold)  safina.pdf

Confirmation Ampere (tin for plating line) ampere.pdf

Electronics & Automation 2013