Few Questions regarding PCB

by VEGETA on Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:23 am

I would like to ask about few things as follows:

1- How can I design a PCB with a specific color that I want? like Arduino for example.

2- How can I add a logo to the PCB? I've seen the solution online but I want to see what you think.

3- I want to design a custom shape for the PCB. i.e, any shape that I want.... How is that done?

4- Finally, the PCB has to get covered to make a final product, is there a reliable program to design the enclosure for the PCB with colors, logos,...etc? and exactly how it's gonna be made after finishing the design?

Thanks :)

My current project is making a solar inverter for small air conditioners and not everything above concerns it but it's nice to know it for future projects.

If you plan to answer these questions in the next episode, please inform me in this post.

Thank you.
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Re: Few Questions regarding PCB

by adafruit_support_mike on Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:35 pm

VEGETA wrote:1- How can I design a PCB with a specific color that I want? like Arduino for example.

That's something you ask for when you send the design files off to be etched. The company I work with (Advanced Circuits) has a list of colors in its order form. Fair warning though, anything other than 'plain old green' will probably cost more.

VEGETA wrote:2- How can I add a logo to the PCB? I've seen the solution online but I want to see what you think.

It depends on the program you use to design the PCB. In Cadsoft's 'Eagle', there's a utility that will import bitmap files. Dangerous Prototypes has a good walkthrough here: http://dangerousprototypes.com/docs/Cad ... CB_library

VEGETA wrote:3- I want to design a custom shape for the PCB. i.e, any shape that I want.... How is that done?

Again, that's part of the information you send to the company that makes the PCBs for you. With Advanced Circuits, they want the information in the 'milling' layer.

More generally, the company you choose to create the boards will have its list of rules for how to arrange the information, probably somewhere on their website.

VEGETA wrote:4- Finally, the PCB has to get covered to make a final product, is there a reliable program to design the enclosure for the PCB with colors, logos,...etc? and exactly how it's gonna be made after finishing the design?

The companies that make PCBs generally don't make enclosures.. it's a different kind of business, and there are way too many options. It's up to you to choose the kind of material you want (plastic, metal, wood, etc) and then find a company that can make it for you.

Companies like Shapeways will 3D-print any kind of object you want, but each enclosure will cost a lot. Companies like Radio Shack and Sparkfun have generic enclosures, but those may not be the specific size or shape you want. If you want something specific, you'll probably have to find a machine shop or plastic molding company that does short runs (small batches) and talk to them about designs and prices.
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Re: Few Questions regarding PCB

by VEGETA on Fri Dec 07, 2012 1:41 pm

for the color it's better to ask the manufacturing company.

but for the shape of the PCB, regardless of which layer should I clarify the shape... how to do it in programs like Eagle of KiKad?

the enclosures... I want to design the enclosure myself not get an already-made one.

I saw that Solidworks does the job but really can you pay 8000$ for making an enclosure? me not!

there is a program called Alibre that makes 3d CAD mechanical designs and some people work with SketchUp... what i asked is not about just model a 3D shape, but to choose it's material and some parts of it has a different material, like plastic with glass... moreover, colors, logo.... etc........ you get me now?

for PCB and stuff Eagle is perfect, though Altium seems nice! (what do U think of Altium?)

_____________

In designing products you need to like the PCB\ECAD... with the Mechanical CAD and stuff. That's why I asked about these things.

for most of I saw, Altium and Alibre are great combination... your opinion?
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Re: Few Questions regarding PCB

by adafruit_support_mike on Sat Dec 08, 2012 2:04 pm

VEGETA wrote:but for the shape of the PCB, regardless of which layer should I clarify the shape... how to do it in programs like Eagle of KiKad?

In Eagle, you just use the 'Wire' tool to draw lines in the shape you want.

VEGETA wrote:the enclosures... I want to design the enclosure myself not get an already-made one.



VEGETA wrote:there is a program called Alibre that makes 3d CAD mechanical designs and some people work with SketchUp... what i asked is not about just model a 3D shape, but to choose it's material and some parts of it has a different material, like plastic with glass... moreover, colors, logo.... etc........ you get me now?

I get you, but you're asking a very big question.. it covers an industrial designer's whole job. When choosing materials, you have to decide which ones work where the product will be used -- a laser-cut plywood box won't work as a scuba-diver's computer, plastics might get brittle for products that go outdoors in the winter.

When you narrow it down to a list of materials that will work, you have to make choices about what they can do and what they cost. Laser-cut plywood or plastic sheet is light and good for producing large, flat shapes. Molded plastic can do complicated shapes, but making the molds is expensive. Metals are strong, but you can fill book with different ways to work metal.. die cutting, die forging, wire bending, sheet metal forming, casting, machining, etc.

Some of your material choices will be based on environmental and mechanical requirements, some will depend on how you want the final product to look. That's where things get really fuzzy, because you have to weigh "how much do I like this shape?" against "how much will it cost to make it?" and "do I want to pay that much, or am I willing to live with something else that's cheaper?" There are no rules or guidelines for those decisions.. they all come down to your personal decisions and taste.

Since you seem to be new to the field, I'd suggest you find a machine shop nearby and talk to someone there. That person will already have a background in materials, processes, and costs. They'll be able to make suggestions and offer alternatives while you make choices about style and "what I'm willing to spend". Listen carefully to what they tell you about mechanical issues.. "that looks nice, but will break easily", "this one will be much easier to build than that one".. but don't ask them to do the 'style' part. That's your job.

You can decide what you're willing to spend, but don't argue when they tell you what producing a given design in a given material will cost. If you don't want to pay for the design you like, and don't like any of the designs that hit the price you're willing to pay, that's your problem.. not theirs.

VEGETA wrote:for PCB and stuff Eagle is perfect, though Altium seems nice! (what do U think of Altium?)

I've never used it, so I can't offer an opinion.

VEGETA wrote:In designing products you need to like the PCB\ECAD... with the Mechanical CAD and stuff. That's why I asked about these things.

That depends on where you go to have the parts made.

PCB houses like Advanced Circuits don't care what layout program you use, for instance, but they do want a specific set of data files called 'Gerbers' (named for the plotter which originally drew the masks). Machine shops want measured drawings, but can get those from DXF files (the defult format for computer drawings). Places that do computer-controlled fabrication will want Gcode, or will charge you to create Gcode from the measured drawings you give them.

That "getting information from the designer to the people who make the object" is a big part of the business these days, so every fabricator will have a list of files they want from you. Different vendors want different things, so start by finding someone who can make what you want, then find tools that can produce the data they want. If you aren't sure how to do something, they'll have tech support people to answer those questions.

I once had to ask Advanced Circuits how narrow a slot they *could* cut, and how narrow they *prefer* to cut. The 'preferred' cut was a bit wider but cost less, and didn't force me to change my design in any major way. I did have to move some things .025" to .050" though. That's an example of how small changes to a design can mean large changes in price, and how you only learn about them by talking to the people who actually make the parts.

VEGETA wrote:for most of I saw, Altium and Alibre are great combination... your opinion?

The best tool for you is the one you like, and can do what you want it to. As long as it produces files the people who make the parts can use, the rest is personal taste.
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