After a printed circuit board (PCB) has been designed and manufactured, it must be populated with electronic components. Although board designers go through a lot of effort to make this as easy as possible, who hasn’t run into a PCB with an incorrect footprint or into a bill of materials (BOM) missing a part? Indeed, it is not easy to get everything right the first time, PCBs and BOMs have to be debugged too. The PCB Assembly Visualizer by Eurocircuits or PCBA Visualizer is a great tool to find such problems before the board is being made, saving money and lots of time.

The Holy Trinity PCB, BOM & CPL

Besides a PCB, board assembly requires a BOM and a component placement list (CPL). All three are related and have to be correct with respect to the others. Together they are the holy trinity of board design:
  1. The PCB must have the correct footprints;
  2. The BOM must specify the right parts having those footprints;
  3. The CPL must contain the exact positions of these parts on the PCB.
The PCB Assembly (PCBA) Visualizer provides the tools to get these three right before the board is even ordered.

PCB Assembly Visualizer: Three Steps

  1. It all starts by uploading a board design and opening the PCB Visualizer. First use the tools treated in other articles to ensure that the board itself can be manufactured.
  2. Upload the BOM. The PCBA Visualizer checks it against a database of known-good components. Unknown, obsolete and ambiguous components are identified during this step. Issues found here should, of course, be corrected before continuing.
  3. Adding the CPL to the mix allows highlighting other issues like incorrect footprints, wrong positions of parts and even parts missing from the BOM.