What are the important rules for an Internet of Things PCBA Designer?Posted on 2020-06-18
Internet of Things PCBA: Things to Know about IOT as a PCB Designer
Internet of Things (IoT) is huge, and with time, it is growing. People define it as the fourth industrial revolution. Therefore, every industry needs to incorporate the IoT requirements in their current and future applications, PCB being no different. As an Internet of Things PCBA designer, there are certain aspects that you need to consider.
After all, statistics show that by the end of 2020, around 26 million devices would connect to the internet. The number is exceptional. It would open up new opportunities. However, at the same time, it would also increase the competition regardless of the industrial genre.
You are one the decide your part in the future: smart cars, smart homes, and smart cities. We are not sure about the rest, but as a PCBA designer, things are going to become challenging. After all, it is not that easy to scrap up all those functionalities into small packages.
What more is that the packet size is decreasing rapidly. Nonetheless, here are some things that you need to know to secure your place in the near future.
Elements that matter to an Internet of Things PCBA Designer
Every Inch of Layout Space Matters
Gone are the days, when you could lavishly use the layout space. The modern world is compact and sophisticated; thus, it requires electronics that are even more sophisticated. You no longer have the facility of adding layer after layer on your Printed Circuit Board to achieve effective results.
On the contrary, you would have to plan to optimize. Your objective here would be to offer the same or more functionalities while decreasing the size, layers, etc. For instance, an Apple Watch, the aluminum model is a classy device.
It weighs only 28.2g, measuring 38.6mm x 33.3 mm and has a dept of 11.4. In addition to looking sleek when worn, the smartwatch offers tons of functionalities. For instance, have access to SoC controllers, LED display, Bluetooth Chip, a couple of sensors, etc.
In short, you have the features of a smartphone, while a significant decrease in the size. This clearly indicates that Apple engineers fought hard for ever inch of the space they had on the PCB board. So, to stay on top of your league, as a designer, it is your stop to be innovative in terms of saving space.
Remember, with time, you would be adding more functionalities to these compact devices. Instead of relying on traditional PCBs, you would have to excel in the High-Density Interconnect and the Rigid-Flex Printed Circuit Board.
With High-Density Interconnect PCBs, you are actually able to use micro vias, denser component placement, and blind vias, thus offering additional space onto the board. In the case of Rigid-PCB, you can the facility of twisting and turning it to meets the demand of the respective device.
Newer Packaging Technology
To survive in this fast-changing world is to leave your comfort zone. Adopt the technological innovation and advancement to yield better results, and ensure your place as an excellent Internet of Things PCBA designer.
It is time to say goodbye to traditional ways of the Printed Boards and adopt the new packaging technologies.
With 3D-IC, designers now can vertically stack multiple silicones that die together. These all silicone dies act as one single device. Thus, offering a smaller footprint and reduced power consumption.
SIP is the new way to integrate RF, analog, and digital logic systems into a single Chip. It offers efficiency and effectiveness.
It is now possible to connect several integrated circuits onto a single die because, with MCM, you can keep form factors thin.
Designing more than PCB.
Thinking, what we mean by saying designing more than PCB. Traditional, the devices were to adopt as per PCB requirements. But changing times, now require you to design for the entire product instead of just a Printed Circuit Board.
With so many small factories emerging, you need to bring the stakeholders on board right from the designing phase. Doing so would ensure a smooth and long-lasting relationship. You now would have to focus on more virtual prototypes as much as possible.
These virtual prototypes would allow the evaluation of PCB size, product weight among others. You would be able to focus on all aspects of the electronics design process.
Be Friends with the Mechanical Designer
In addition to the product planning process and the virtual prototyping, you would also have to spend quality time with your mechanical designer. In other words, you would have to make the designer your best friend.
There is a high probability that when IoT comes up in full swing, you and your mechanical designer would be working on products in tandem. It might just eliminate the need for assembly lines. So, every stage of the designing phase would have an impact on both the real-time sharing of PCB between
Design Reuse Tools Would Become Handy
Once you start developing IoT devices, you would see a movement in electronics designs towards standardization. Instead of reconstructing the basic circuitry, again and again, the focus would be on innovation in circuity.
After all, the objective here is to attain reliability and efficiency. Reusing the already constructed blocks of circuity is easier in comparison to creating them again and again. The module design would take place in the conventional schematic design process.
The designers would start saving and reusing the part lists, modular schematics, and other courses of layouts that have been successful in the past.
Introduction to New Materials
It is time to move on from the square-shaped, FR4 Printed Circuit Board. There are HDI Printed Circuit Boards, Aluminum, Rigid-Flex, etc. To stay afloat in the times of IoT, you would need to rely on flexible circuit boards that are embedded with other materials.
In case, you are unaware of some currently being used, look out for the research firms that are investing in wearable technologies such as the Holst Centre, University of Sussex, and Wearable Technologies.
Focus on the Power Consumption
In modern times, you no longer have the guarantee that the IoT product, you are working on would have a dedicated source of Plug-in Power.
Most of these devices either rely on energy harvesting capabilities or either on batteries. Therefore, the need of the hour is to design your Inter of Things products to be power efficient.
You should strategize your power consumption plan in regard to the allocated budget. Instead of focusing on the Power consumption of the whole product, you can allocate a power budget to each functional circuit block on a Printed Circuit Board.
In case, you are having issues, you can reach out to the component supplier. Since they excel in what they do, thus they can offer you alternate parts that would fall within your power budget.
In addition to planning out the power consumption of the PCB, you also need to consider test and verify each power state of the Printed Circuit Boards while you pass it via cycles through different tasks.
See how these things impact the battery of the product.
Internet of Things PCBA Designer needs to be Familiar with Wireless Protocols and Modules
For an Internet of Things PCBA designer, it is important to understand that wireless connectivity lies at the heart of every IoT product. Devices are able to sense data in its soundings and send it to cloud to interpretation.
All this is possible because of the RF circuit and wireless module. However, the important question here is how can you find a place for all these components as well. For starters, you can use off-the-shelf modules that are readily available for wearable and IoT products.
These parts have extremely small footprints, yet they do not compromise on the functionality. There are several factors that would affect your decision of using the type of wireless protocol and modules.
For example, you would have to consider data transfer speed, required range, power consumption, security requirements among others.
You might also have to use different protocols such as the Infrastructure (RPl, IPv4/IPv6, 6LowPAN), Identification (URIs, IPv6, uCode, EPC), etc.