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.
coindouble 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 wizardpreferred 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 .