- Panel editor – the next level of efficiency in PCB Visualizer
“I want my boards delivered as a panel, but I need to see what it looks like before I place my order”
“I want to make sure that I have got the maximum number of circuits on my assembly panel”
“My assembly people need fiducials and tooling-holes in exactly the right place. I haven’t got time to make a drawing, but they want to check the panel’s OK for them before I order.”
Eurocircuits have always had options to deliver a customer’s circuits in a panel (see our Panel Guidelines), but there has never been an opportunity to see the panel before placing the order, to experiment to find the best circuit “fill”, or to order a special layout without providing a drawing. The new PCB Visualizer tool, Panel Editor, changes that. Now you can view the Eurocircuits panelisation you have specified before you place your order. Or, if you need a special panelisation, you can create your own panel directly on-screen. Place your order confident that what you have seen or what you have laid out is what you will get as your finished panel – and there will be no delays while our engineers query your requirements.
How do I …..?
- Use PCB Visualizer Panel Editor to get a fast price without uploading data?
- View or modify my eC-panel by Eurocircuits?
- Make a custom panel?
- Set up/change panel and board properties?
- Change the step and repeat values?
- “Fill” a panel?
- Define special panel settings (stepped blocks, rotated circuits/blocks, custom blocks e.g. “nested” for L- and T-shaped circuits?)
- Add my own border features (tooling holes, fiducials, text etc.)?
- Specify panels with several different circuits (multipanels)?
- Get confirmation I did it all right, even if I did it for the first time? Use our pre-production approval process.
Our BLOG explains it all and contains 2 movies to illustrate the processes.
See separate sections for each topic. If you have any questions, use our online chat line to talk to one of our engineers.
1. Use PCB Visualizer Panel Editor to get a fast price without uploading data?
Most Panel Editor options can be used before you upload your data. For this, PCB Visualizer uses dummy PCBs.
There are three panel options. To select one, go to the Delivery format box at the top of the screen. For more details of each, see our Panel Guidelines. Selecting eC-panel by Eurocircuits or Custom panel by Eurocircuits automatically opens the Panel menu.
eC-panel by Eurocircuits
Specify the repeats you want in X and Y. Select the panel border, and the PCB spacing from the pull-down boxes. All eC-panels are eC-registration compatible. This means that they have the necessary tooling holes in the border if you want to use a solder-paste stencil with our eC-stencil-mate or eC-stencil-fix. As they also have our standard pattern tooling holes and fiducials in the corners (see Panel Guidelines p. 6), they are 100% suitable for use with other registration systems.
Click Panel editor to see the panel with the dummy PCBs. For the full range of options, see below.
Customer panel by Eurocircuits
Click the Panel editor wizard and proceed as below to specify the step and repeat, border and separation distance required. Ignore the red warning message about the 0,0 panel size – this will be changed by the Panel editor. PCB Visualizer will display the default board size, so for an accurate price enter the correct circuit size, make any other size changes required and click Apply.
TIP: Don’t put in the border elements at this stage as they will be lost when you upload the real board data.
Customer panel by customer.
Use this panel option if you have already prepared Gerber files with the complete panelisation for a special layout or for a multi-panel (panel with several different designs). Your layout should meet our panelisation requirements for panel border and distance between the circuits. This option won’t open Panel Editor as the files will display correctly in PCB Visualizer.
TIP: All delivery panels require a border to hold them together during transport and handling. If you have not included a border or want to put additional features into the border, select Custom panel by Eurocircuits and specify a 1-up panel using the Panel editor wizard.
2. View or modify eC-panel by Eurocircuits
Step 1. Load the job into PCB Visualizer.
Use the “Price Calculator” option to get a price and then upload your data. Or choose the “Analyse your data” route, so that PCB Configurator fills out the board parameters for you. Go to Shopping basket and click the PCB Visualizer column for the job you want.
Step 2. View eC-panel by Eurocircuits.
If you have already specified the step and repeat, border size, PCB separation method and distance, click the Panel editor wizard to see the panelised circuit.
The router path is shown as a hatched area. Our engineers will place rout tabs in this area to ensure a stable panel.
TIP: If there are areas in which you do not want rout tabs to appear due to sensitive components etc., specify them in a mechanical drawing.
You can now change:
- Repeat in X and/or Y
- PCB separation method
- Panel border
- PCB spacing
For any other changes, click “Advanced panel options”.
Click “Apply” at the bottom of the screen and the price in PCB Configurator will automatically update to the new configuration. Click the orange “Save changes” box to update the basket.
In the next menu just click Continue. There is no need to re-upload the job.
MOVIE: create and view an eC-panel with panel editor
This film gives an overview of how to make an eC-panel with our new panel editor module, part of our PCB Visualizer software.
3. Lay out a custom panel by Eurocircuits.
- For hints and tips on designing stable panels including panelising round circuits and handling overhanging and heavy components, click here.
- If you are using an external assembly company and they supply a detailed dimensioned drawing of their requirements, you may find it easier to use the Launch inquiry route to get a price. Upload your single circuit data, the drawing and your step and repeat instructions (as a README file) and our engineers will lay out the panel and give you a price. This may take up to 1 working day.
Step 1. Load the job into PCB Visualizer as Section 2 step 1 above.
Click the Panel editor wizard. Ignore the red warning about the 0,0 panel size – the Panel editor will complete the correct size.
Step 2. Select your panel border and enter your preferred value:
Step 3. Set up the circuit separation method and spacing:
Step 4. Choose the panel content type.
- Stepped PCB if you want to build your PCB out of single circuits.
- Stepped block if you want to build your panel out of a custom block of two or more interlocked or “nested” circuits, typically L- or T-shaped. For this option, see below.
Step 4. Select “Stepped PCB”. And click “Next >”.
Step 5. Set up the basic step and repeat, and the rotation if required. Additional options will be available in the editor.
Step 6. PCB Visualizer now shows the board together with top and bottom birds-eye view, the Panel and board properties menu and the panel tools menu.
- Swap top and bottom views by clicking on the bird’s eye menu, or using the tool menu icon.
- Pan and zoom with your mouse or use the pull-down zoom menu.
Click the orange “Apply” button to accept the panelisation and go back to the PCB Configurator menu.
4. Change panel and board properties.
Use this menu to change:
- Panel size.
- Panel border
- Board separation method
- Board separation distance
TIP: If the board size is incorrect, PCB Visualizer will show a dummy panel. Correct the size in the menu (“Board size”).
5. Change the step and repeat of the job
Click within the existing stepped circuits to select the block. This opens the “Stepped PCB properties” menu. You can now change the repeat and the rotation of the PCB. Use to action
6. To “fill” a panel
- Un-tick the Automatic X and Automatic Y boxes in the “Panel and board properties” menu.
- Select the panel size you require (e.g. the Eurocircuits recommended maximum panel 350 X 250 mm, or your assembly company’s maximum size e.g. 300 x 200 mm)
- Use the “Step/repeat block properties” menu to change the step and repeat and rotation to find the best fit
- Re-click the Automatic boxes to get the final panel size.
7. Define special panel settings.
- Stepped PCB
- Stepped Block
- Block (Custom block of nested PCBs: L-shapes, T-shapes, etc…)
These allow you to customise your panel layout.
- To deselect a tool, double-click the Select button or pick the next tool.
- To select a border element that is below another border element, you need to click with the right mouse button to first highlight it (orange border), then you can click with the left mouse button to select it.
- Use “Reset the panel definition” to
- restart the Panel wizard – select “Create new panel definition”
- clear everything and go back to the PCB Configurator menu – select “Clear panel definition”
7.1. Add stepped PCB pattern
TIP: Use this function to step and repeat PCB blocks or to add rotated PCBs.
- Click the tool “Add stepped PCBs”.
- Select the orange location box where you want to repeat the same circuit pattern.
- This opens the “Stepped PCB properties” menu. Enter the repeat values you require and click the location boxes as required.TIP: By default PCB Visualizer will retain the last repeat values used. If these are incorrect, simply change them and the screen image will correct automatically.
- Add spacers as required to control the distance between the blocks. Click “Select the object to edit” to clear the location boxes and show the true distances.TIP:The spacers change the distance between the blocks of circuits, not the individual circuits. Change the distance between circuits in the “Panel and board properties” menu.
7.2. Rotated blocks:
There are two ways to panelise with rotated and non-rotated circuits depending on your requirements. To build a panel with rotated circuit patterns, follow the procedures here. To put rotated and non-rotated in a set, see below.
- Click the tool “Add stepped PCBs”.
- Select the orange location box where you want to add the rotated pattern
- Enter the required repeat and rotation values
7.3. Panelise with stepped blocks (“nested” PCBs).
Use this function to interlock (“nest”) L-shaped or T-shaped PCBs.
- Open the Panel editor
- Select the border required
- Set your preferred PCB spacing and separation
- Set the Panel content type to “Stepped Blocks”
- Click “Next>” to open the “Edit block definition” box. Click “Edit block”.
- This opens the editing screen.
- The offset will normally remain at X = 0, Y = 0 for the first circuit. For the demo job, change the rotation to 180°.
- To add a second circuit, click “Add a PCB”. To avoid a second circuit being placed directly over the first circuit, it is given a notional offset, roughly 20% of its X & Y dimensions.
- Add the desired offsets for the finished set. Click Apply to return to the wizard.
- Click “Next>” to move to the “Define step values menu”. Enter your preferred repeat and click “Finish”.
7.4. Add a spacer.
Use this function to increase the width of a single border or the space between blocks of circuits.
- Select “Add a spacer” tool.
- Click on the orange locator box where you want to insert the space
- Enter your chosen spacer value.
- Click on “Select the object to edit” or “Apply” to show the new image.
TIP: Tick the Automatic box if you have a fixed panel size which the circuits do not fill exactly and you want to maintain e.g. the relationship between the circuits and the panel edge. The automatic spacer will push the circuits into the required position.
8. Define customer specific border elements.
- To see how these different options work together, see the illustration of an eC-panel above or the finished panel at the end of this section.
- All border elements are dimensioned from 8 reference points. These are placed in the middle of the laminate border in the 4 corners and on the centre line of the panel. For each tool click the tool, select the (first) reference point, and the tool menu will open.
- Border elements (except drill holes) can be placed on copper, soldermask or legend layers, and on top, bottom or both sides.
8.1 Add a drill hole border element.
- Select the “Drill hole border element” tool and the reference point.
- Enter the drill hole diameter plus the copper, soldermask and legend clearances and any offset required.
- Click to insert the hole. Select the next reference point – the values entered will carry over.
8.2 Add a frame border element.
Specify the width, the side and the layer required (copper, soldermask and/or legend). Unless an offset is specified this will appear in the centre of each border.
8.3. Add a clearance border element.
Tooling holes, fiducials and text come with automatic clearances to your chosen values. Use the clearance function if you need to clear copper, soldermask or legend for any reason. The cut-off allows the corner to be rounded.
8.4. Add copper pad.
For example as a fiducial. You can specify the pad size, the clearances from copper, soldermask and legend, and the offset from each reference point.
8.5. Add text border element.
Enter the text, dimensions, layer (copper, soldermask or legend), and the clearances required. The cut-off value gives a curved clearance. The soldermask and legend clearances will default to the copper values but they can be changed if you prefer.
8.6. Add hash fiducials
You can set copper, soldermask and legend clearances for hash fiducials.
8.7. Finished panel
Including eC-compatible tooling holes
MOVIE: use panel editor to create your own custom panel
This film gives an overview of how to make a custom panel using our new panel editor module, part of our PCB Visualizer software.
9. Specify panels with several different circuits (“Multipanels”)
PCB Visualizer has been developed as a Gerber file analyser to run Design Rule (DRC) and increasingly Design for Manufacturability (DFM) checks on single circuits. There is at present no functionality to allow you to import and place interactively separate circuits into one delivery panel.
If you want to put several different circuits on one delivery panel, you have three options:
- Prepare a single Gerber file for each layer including the circuits you require in the positions where you want them in the panel. Make sure that you provide a suitable border and distance between circuits. More …
- You can use PCB Visualizer to analyse the panel as though it is a single circuit. If you need to add a border or border features, load the job as a 1 x 1 Customer panel by Eurocircuits.
- To ensure optimum manufacturability we have rules for the maximum size and copper balance for panels with multiple different circuits.
- Use the Launch inquiry route. Upload a single .zip file including separate .zip files for each circuits and an exact drawing how you want them panelised. Our engineers will check the data files and build the panel for you. We will send you a quotation and you will be able to see the finished panel in PCB Visualizer.
- Place your order and upload a single .zip file including separate .zip files for each circuits and an exact drawing how you want them panelised. Skip PCB Visualizer. If you want to check the panel before it goes into production click the box “Request pre-production approval” in the Running menu.
10. Pre-production approval
Not sure about the panel you have created and need reassurance before your panel goes into production? Use our pre-production approval check. More info in our BLOG.