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Calculate Mass of PCB

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Apn15:
I need to calculate the mass of a PCB I designed in Altium, and I have no idea where to start.

Does Altium have a feature for the mass of a PCB?

evb149:
I don't recall that it does.

In general its MCAD related capabilities are pretty minimal.

Can you even get a good "surface area" of the PCB excepting any defined holes / slots / cut-outs for an irregular board shape?

Probably even less so the possibility to get surface areas for rigid-flex boards with various flex and rigid sections plus holes + cut-outs.

And then what of the pattern and weight of areas where the copper is removed?  Does the weight of overlay / solder mask matter?

Depends on your stackup / design and precision requirements.

I think just exporting the data to a MCAD program would likely get you the answer you seek more easily than using altium.

Of course the problem there is if you care about the details even exporting the details like copper tracks and patterns and holes may be difficult to export to MCAD in STEP format so maybe you'd have to use a more advanced board representation like going straight to native solidworks or something would help.

If you can manually define the weight per square meter of your "fully present" stackup you could then use a surface area calculation which excepts slots / cut-outs to get a rough approximation and then you could subtract the surface area of the holes defined in the drill table to get a bit more precise.  But you'd still over-estimate the weight of copper and legend and solder-mask.

Oh and you didn't mention components so I don't know if you're accounting for those based on the BOM and component data sheets.. if not.. well.. Altium won't do it for you that I know of.


Apn15:
Understood. Thanks for the information.

The MCAD plugin may be the best approach to this problem, however I can see there will be difficulty when wanting to add in the components.

evb149:
The components may be "easier" to get out of Altium (in a fully explicitly manual sort of way).
If you add a mass property parameter to all the design's components, you should be able to use the BOM output to
just add-in a report including the mass column for all components present in the BOM.  Then you'd just have to sum that column
for the component masses yourself or if possible in some BOM setting that might be able to roll up that summation for you (?).

As for the PCB itself,
In the PCB editor there is the "Reports" menu and "Board Information" sub menu option.
If you use that report it seems to calculate some possibly useful information about the present board outline, holes, slots, copper area / percentage cover, etc. broken down in some cases by layer etc.

Unfortunately at first glance it isn't obvious that it deals with board cutout regions as something that it or you can subtract giving you a solid board area that's completely accurate, but maybe there are direct or work-around ways to get that and any other deficiencies accounted for.

But at least for simple rigid boards that might be enough to give you enough to figure out approximately the bare PCB mass based upon its calculated solid area and explicitly manually calculated volumetric mass density & board thickness and the copper weight may even be able to be correctly estimated in the mix.

Maybe draftsman or other internal features can be exploited to give better results but at least this simple approach seems likely to be practicable in simple cases.



T3sl4co1l:
The next best tool might be pouring a polygon on an unused layer (mechanical say?); check that it's clearing around keep-outs (holes, cutouts, etc.).  Then measure its area.

Which, uh, still isn't that easy to do, hmm; check the forums, I recall a thread about measuring polygon area.  Maybe it can't be done directly, or in any convenient (even relatively roundabout) way.

If nothing else, I think the area can be indirectly measured by doing a binary search on "remove islands less than X".  By that I mean, editing the field, repouring, and repeating until the whole thing (assuming it's contiguous) just disappears at one value.  This is, not all that roundabout really, but it sure isn't convenient...

Tim

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