Day by day electronic devices is shrinking in size due to consumer demands and more stress on portability and light-weight products. It is understandable that when a device is shrunk in size; the printed circuit boards utilized in it will also experience a reduction in size and increase in complexity and functionality. Hence, a PCB designer, at each phase of designing a printed circuit board, has to maintain proper documentation of the design.

Even before beginning to design a PCB, based on the client requirements, an effective layout of a printed circuit board must be documented. This documentation is essentially the base to start the designing process and is critical in various aspects. As the designing process goes on and the designer makes certain changes to the board; the same needs to be documented as well. This documentation is not only helpful to the designer but also to the manufacturer as well as the person who will work on creating a different PCB from the existing one. Most PCB designers hate to go through the documentation part but it is never a good idea. Multiple problems can occur when skipping proper documentation during the design phase of a printed circuit board.

Performance Not According to Specifications
When a PCB designer fails to take note of the client requirements, it is most likely that the final design of the printed circuit board won’t give the functionality and level of performance as desired by the client. So, what does this means? This means that the same printed circuit board has to be modified or, in worst cases, has to be designed from scratch. This unnecessary wastage of resources and essential time could have been avoided if the designer has followed and maintained proper documentation during the designing process.

Ideas Cannot be Shared With The Team

In most cases, a single person is not working on designing a printed circuit board but an entire team of designers works on the design part. In such cases, it becomes extremely necessary to share the ideas regarding the design of a printed circuit board between each other in the team. This is not possible verbally and a documentation is needed for this. Altium PCB Design Software provides a great functionality in the form of Altium PCB Viewer that allows a designer’s team to have a read-only and secure access to the documentation which is extremely helpful for the collection of feedback regarding the improvements and enhancements that can be made in the design. Now, it is understandable that if there is no documentation maintained no design files can be shared within the team.

The quality or Functional Issues
When designing a board a lot of factors like electromagnetic interference, current flow, size of the components etc. need to be taken into consideration. However, if the designer is not following and maintaining a proper documentation along with, the design of the board is most likely to suffer from quality or functional issues which again means a lot of rework and wastage of time and essential resources.

Mistakes in Manufacturing
When there is no proper documentation attached to a design of a printed circuit board a manufacturer will have, absolutely, no idea regarding the essential metrics and measurements to be used while manufacturing the printed circuit board. As a result, a manufacturer has to get in touch with the designer each and every time a certain doubt arises. This results in back and forth meetings between the manufacturer and the designer and it is needless to say that this causes a lot of wastage of time. If the client is strict regarding the delivery time this can cause innumerable delays in the production of the printed circuit board which won’t be liked by the client at all.

Conclusion
It is almost impossible to create a good PCB design without working on the documentation part. In the worst cases, a PCB designer has to create the entire PCB from scratch if client requirements are not properly documented and adhered to. Good and proper documentation is vital to ensure that the PCB is manufactured and delivered within the time frame specified by the client and provides the desired functionality and level of performance.

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