“The PCB design ecosystem is not supported adequately with hardware prototyping in India”

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Bare PCBs are the foundation of any electronic device. With the increasing role of electronics in everyday life, including mobile phones, self-driving and electric cars, home automation and especially IoT, the need for a professional and reliable PCB supplier is critical. Baishakhi Dutta of the Electronicsforu.com Network spoke with three eminent leaders at the Hyderabad based Sulakshana Circuits Ltd (SCL)—C. Krishna Rao, chairman; Dr V. Venkata Ramani, director, business development; and S. Rambabu, GM – commercial and technical, to find out where the Indian PCB industry is headed and the challenges it faces.

EB: How does the choice of a PCB manufacturer affect IoT and embedded systems projects?
IoT and embedded systems are becoming increasingly important for electronic products and an excellent PCB manufacturer is now more important than ever, for three key reasons.
First, time to market is a critical parameter for success in this quickly changing field, and SCL can help in this area by manufacturing prototypes within three days. We have specialised equipment such as a ₹ 15 million flying probe tester to ensure boards are 100 per cent acceptable on electrical quality tests. The normal bare board tester (BBT) used for volume production delays prototype testing since complex fixtures must first be manufactured. The flying probe tester uses the CAD data directly.

Second, a good PCB manufacturer should carefully check the design rules, and ensure manufacturability of the designs before wasting valuable time building a PCB that does not work as intended. We have a skilled CAM (computer aided manufacturing) department that works with designers to resolve problems before they become too big.

Finally, with the small size of IoT devices, it is critical that the alignment of the board’s routed profile and the electrical circuit are perfect. CNC drilling and routing machines are critical to maintain this alignment.

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EB: Do you think India has a strong base of PCB players who can create innovative and value added designs?
Yes, India has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of design. We’ve seen more designers doing innovative things over the last 30 years. About 20 years ago, most designs were from government organisations like ITI, C-DOT, BHEL, ECIL, etc. Very few were from the private sector. In the last few years, the majority of design work is being done in the private sector, and these designers are constantly improving their designs and products. It is quite heartening to see so many young designers doing creative and innovative work.

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