Author Topic: PCB Stackup Planning and Materials Selection Tools  (Read 2425 times)

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Online DamperheadTopic starter

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PCB Stackup Planning and Materials Selection Tools
« on: May 29, 2023, 11:50:36 am »
I'm interested in how much Forum readers use the PCB Stackup Planning and Materials Selection tools. I think they are a great help in circuit board design and especially in specification.

I have experience with iCD Stackup Planner and Z-planner and I find them very useful tools in PCB material planning. Polar also has its own software for defining PCB stackup called Polar Speedstack.

 

Offline PlainName

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Re: PCB Stackup Planning and Materials Selection Tools
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2023, 06:09:06 pm »
I notice that none of those display even ballpark pricing. Typically, if you have to ask then they expect you to have a personal money tree.
 
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Online DamperheadTopic starter

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Re: PCB Stackup Planning and Materials Selection Tools
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2023, 06:39:25 am »
Here are my rough estimates of the prices:

iCD Stackup Planner: ~5k€ + options
Z-planner Designer: ~10k€
Polar Speedstack:  ~10k€ or even more

However, these are professional software intended for businesses, so the prices are not exactly at the cheapest end.
 

Offline PlainName

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Re: PCB Stackup Planning and Materials Selection Tools
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2023, 07:10:45 am »
Thanks. I realise they're not meant for someone etching in the garage :)
 

Offline tszaboo

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Re: PCB Stackup Planning and Materials Selection Tools
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2023, 03:09:01 pm »
Here are my rough estimates of the prices:

iCD Stackup Planner: ~5k€ + options
Z-planner Designer: ~10k€
Polar Speedstack:  ~10k€ or even more

However, these are professional software intended for businesses, so the prices are not exactly at the cheapest end.
I myself am not working with that complicated stackups, for a tool like this to be worthwhile.
Altium has something with basic functionality, that's enough for 100% of my needs.
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: PCB Stackup Planning and Materials Selection Tools
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2023, 03:22:04 pm »
Here are my rough estimates of the prices:

iCD Stackup Planner: ~5k€ + options
Z-planner Designer: ~10k€
Polar Speedstack:  ~10k€ or even more

However, these are professional software intended for businesses, so the prices are not exactly at the cheapest end.
An Orcad PCB designer license, which has such a tool included in the cross section editor costs less than those software packages.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline asmi

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Re: PCB Stackup Planning and Materials Selection Tools
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2023, 03:38:21 pm »
Here are my rough estimates of the prices:

iCD Stackup Planner: ~5k€ + options
Z-planner Designer: ~10k€
Polar Speedstack:  ~10k€ or even more

However, these are professional software intended for businesses, so the prices are not exactly at the cheapest end.
Wow, I wonder what kind of business can justify such insane prices, especially since companies tend to standardize these kinds of things, and in any case they always have an option to request that information from PCB fab they work with for free if they require something out of ordinary, as nowadays most PCB fabs' standard stackups are fairly good for most designs. I personally can't think of a business which would justifiably need this, except for PCB fabs.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2023, 07:02:23 pm by asmi »
 
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Offline asmi

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Re: PCB Stackup Planning and Materials Selection Tools
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2023, 03:46:46 pm »
An Orcad PCB designer license, which has such a tool included in the cross section editor costs less than those software packages.
So does Altium Designer - they licensed a 3D field solver from Simberian and integrated it into their Layer Stack Manager.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2023, 06:31:54 pm by asmi »
 

Offline Uky

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Re: PCB Stackup Planning and Materials Selection Tools
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2023, 07:39:49 pm »
There is a difference between layer managers where trace impedances, board thicknesses, etc. can be calculated
and "real" planners that take possible via spans over several layers, blind and buried as well as maintain tables for dielectric
thicknesses and baking combinations into account. The best thing to do after realizing that a complex multi-layer board is needed
is to contact the board manufacturing factory and ask "What are your most popular build-ups" in terms of dielectric and prepreg
availaibility, plating procedures and the combination of baking in several steps (intenal layer via spans). When I deal with
10 or more layers, it is a must. I also get recommendations regarding the materials and the qualities that moves more often.
This can be important, since prepregs stiffens as they age which affects trace impedances if inner traces are routed with a prepreg as
one of the dielectric layers.

 :)
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: PCB Stackup Planning and Materials Selection Tools
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2023, 08:23:03 pm »
That only works if you know the board manufacturer in advance. I'm always confronted with whatever an assembler manages to find. I just check whether the board can be produced within the specs based on the (slightly) different stackup the board manufacturer offers. Typically I go from a standard buildup from a big manufacturer assuming that such a buildup is commonly used. Which has been the case so far with only minor differences (slightly different materials and core / prepeg thicknesses that vary 0.02mm or so).
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline Uky

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Re: PCB Stackup Planning and Materials Selection Tools
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2023, 04:52:55 pm »
That is indeed true. In most cases, the customers I work for has a long term relationship with "their" board manufacturer
which saves me the hassle from searching for stackups myself. When the assignment is about to start; i approach the
manufacturer and we establish a dialog which saves me and the board manufacturer from unneccessary extra work.

 :)
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: PCB Stackup Planning and Materials Selection Tools
« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2023, 05:37:09 pm »
That would be so nice... Some of my designs have been produced by at least half a dozen different manufacturers and at one point a PCB manufacturer did manage to mess up the production of a board for a rather large production run. No happy faces and lots of finger pointing. BTW, it is interesting to see how much variation there is in trace widths between various PCB manufacturers based on the exact same layout. So even with a well defined stackup, etc there will be a large tolerance in the actual impedance of the traces.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2023, 05:40:14 pm by nctnico »
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Online DamperheadTopic starter

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Re: PCB Stackup Planning and Materials Selection Tools
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2023, 07:22:42 pm »
This eBook can increase your knowledge of stack-up design. The information is relevant especially if you are dealing with hi-speed links like high-speed Ethernet PAM4 protocols, including 25GE, 50GE, 100GE for example.

http://i-007ebooks.com/my-i-connect007/books/printed-circuit-designers-guide-stackups-design-within-design/
 

Offline asmi

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Re: PCB Stackup Planning and Materials Selection Tools
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2023, 07:53:54 pm »
That would be so nice... Some of my designs have been produced by at least half a dozen different manufacturers and at one point a PCB manufacturer did manage to mess up the production of a board for a rather large production run. No happy faces and lots of finger pointing. BTW, it is interesting to see how much variation there is in trace widths between various PCB manufacturers based on the exact same layout. So even with a well defined stackup, etc there will be a large tolerance in the actual impedance of the traces.
To help with that, if I know that the PCB might end up being manufactured all over the place, I target an impedance value closer to a lower bound of impedance tolerance window in my eCAD, this creates traces which are a bit wider than ideal, and so manufacturer can make them narrower if required for his process/stackup. This is OK because you can always make traces narrower, but often you can't make them wider without violating spacing and/or increasing risk of problems related to crosstalk.


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