Most automated Panelize tools are optimized for standardized rectangular PCB shapes. However FAB3000 supports using: hierarchy, nesting, and sub-panels making it possible to create optimized Panels for any PCB shape!
In this tutorial we'll create an optimized Panel for Round Circular PCB's using FAB3000. After importing your Circular PCB design (Gerbers, ODB++, 2581, DXF, etc) and defining all layer types, please perform the following:
1. Create PCB Rout and outer tabs (used to hold PCB in the Panel during assembly process).
- Place FAB3000 into NC mode and use command: Auto-Rout PCB Border
- Note: You can also remain in CAM mode and select toolbar menu: Featured Tools | Auto-Rout PCB Border..., as I have done in this tutorial.
- Verify the Auto-Rout Option values and press OK.
- Select the PCB outline and the rout will be automatically created.
- Note: The PCB outline should be on a separate layer with the Type defined as Border and the outline should be closed and continuous, https://support.numericalinnovations.com/support/discussions/topics/14000015876
- Add Tabs.
- Place FAB3000 into NC mode and use command: Add Tab...
- Note: You can also remain in CAM mode and select toolbar menu: Featured Tools | Add Tab..., as I have done in this tutorial.
- Verify the Add Tabs options and press OK.
- Important: In the Command window (located below editor) make sure to first type: R (for Rounded) to configure FAB3000 for adding tabs on a curved edge.
Select the Tab locations where you would like the tab to appear.
- It's important to select tab locations that will allow the Circular PCB to still remain intact throughout the entire PCB fabrication/assembly process.
- For circular PCB's usually 4+ tabs are the minimum requirement.
- Note: In this tutorial movie I randomly selected 4 tab locations that are probably best for a rectangular array - but not the best in a circular staggered array (that you'll see next section). Hopefully this tutorial gives you a great starting point for reference, and feel free to contact your PCB manufacturer about the best strategies for keeping your circular PCB intact in the panel.
- Save your workspace and proceed to creating the Panel. Menu: File | Save Workspace (Ctrl+S)
2. Panel Setup
- Create a New Panel. Go to menu: File | New | Panel...
- Review all Panel setup options. Here's more information about using Panel Setup >>
- Press OK. A Panel Page will be created with the Panel Outline displayed in the background as reference.
- Note: Typically here we would use either Panelize Wizard (Fixed or Minimum Size), however since we have a circular PCB - we're actually going to insert and array the Circular PCB manually. See Next Step: Array Circular PCB
- Note: Multiple different Jobs or Sub-panels can also be inserted into a FAB3000 panel. https://support.numericalinnovations.com/support/discussions/topics/14000003475
3. Array Circular PCB (as staggered) for optimized Panel Efficiency
- Use the command Insert Job (go to menu: Job | Insert Job...)
- Select the Circular PCB (i.e Job) to inserted into this panel and arrayed.
- Select Insert Type: Arrayed
- Enter X and Y Counts.
- Select an X/Y count that exceeds the total, because afterwards, you can delete any extra inserts that are not needed within your panel requirements.
- Enter the Spacing you require. Typically it's either the same as the Rout diameter (or 3X Rout diameter to allow for extra material stability). Make sure to check the option Use Staggered Array.
- Press OK, and select the Insert Point for your Array. You will now see your circular PCB's arrayed in a staggered fashion to optimize material usage.
Delete any excess PCB's that do not fit within your panel area. Menu: Edit | Delete
- Note: If you do not have enough arrayed PCB's, select Undo, perform Insert Job again and increase the Count in either the X or Y direction.
4. Finish Panel
If everything appears fine, use the command Finish Panel (menu: Tools | Finish Panel) to create all Panel objects (such as Fiducials, Tooling Holes, Bars, Text Labels, etc. Verify the results, and your Panel is now completed!
Sub-Panel Creation? Sub-Panels are basically the arrayed PCB only (without using Finish Panel). You could now create a new Panel and insert this sub-panel along with other Jobs/Sub-panels into a master panel that contains everything.
Want Smallest Panel Required? If you only need a few circular PCB's (or a large panel area is not used), FAB3000 can shrink-to-fit your Panel so it perfectly optimizes the required space only. Use the command Auto-Fit Panel (menu: Tools | Auto-Fit Panel (existing Inserts)...
Example Tutorial Movie (no sound):