What is it?

The printed circuit board (PCB) pooling and manufacturing company Eurocircuits offers a free online tool suite, the PCB Visualizer, that clients can use to check their PCB design for manufacturability before ordering it. Not only allow these tools to see how your board’s production files are interpreted by the manufacturer, they can also highlight problems that for some reason went unnoticed so far. The PCB Configurator was covered in a previous article, this time we will have a look at the PCB Checker.

What can you do with it?

The PCB Checker looks for issues that may make a board difficult or even impossible to manufacture or that may have an influence on the quality and long-term reliability of the board. It will for instance highlight annular ring (AR) problems, hole sizes and distances, track width and isolation or clearance issues. It also analyzes the copper distribution of the board, which, if uneven, may result in board bending or produce tracks that will be thinner than expected thus limiting their current carrying capabilities. In short, if the PCB Checker finds something it thinks is suspicious, you'd better have another close look at your board and fix the problems found.

My board got a red flag, time to open the PCB Checker

Test driving the PCB Checker

For this review I designed a board with a few issues. When added to my shopping cart the PCB Visualizer flags it with a red flag, meaning that I should think again before ordering the board. Clicking the PCB Visualizer link will open a new window with a PCB Checker tab. Click it. You now have access to DRC and DFM tabs. The first one will show Design Rule Check related conflicts like clearance, hole size and width problems, the second one, Design for Manufacturability, shows the copper distribution.