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PCB Design Rule Check

PCB design and manufacturing is a highly complex process that requires effective management of thousands of components and connections on a multilayer board. Ensuring production yields is critical in this process, and design rule checking is a key method to improve manufacturing yields. By performing DRC, errors can be detected and corrected in time during the design phase, avoiding product scrap due to issues such as shorted power grounds, misaligned vias or missing pins. Design rule check is essential to ensure that the quality of PCBs manufactured on the production line meets high standards.

What is Design Rule Check?

Design Rule Check or DRC for short, is an automated tool or software feature used during the PCB design phase to detect potential design errors and violations. It performs a comprehensive check of the PCB design based on predefined rules and constraints to ensure that the design meets specific specifications and requirements. Taking as a starting point the assurance of design correctness and fulfillment of conventional design specifications is an indispensable part of PCB design.


What Does Design Rule Check Contain?

Here are some examples of common DRC:

  • The minimum line width and minimum via size should comply with the manufacturing capabilities of the PCB manufacturer.

  • Spacing between lines, lines and pads, lines and vias, pads and vias, and vias and vias should be reasonable and meet production requirements. PCBWay's minimum line width and spacing are 3 mil (0.0762 mm), but it is strongly recommended to design with line widths and spacing of 6 mil (0.15 mm) or above to save costs.

  • The width of power and ground traces should be reasonable and tightly coupled.

  • For critical signal traces, follow the data sheet or relevant guidelines for routing, such as minimizing length, adding guard traces, and meeting impedance requirements for differential pairs.

  • Input and output signals should be separated, digital and analog sections should be separated, high-frequency and low-frequency sections should be separated, and high-power and low-power sections should be separated.

Here are only some of checks listed. There are many other checks that need to be performed during the design.

The importance of Design Rule Check

  • Avoiding manufacturing issues: DRC helps in identifying and rectifying potential design errors and violations, such as insufficient spacing between traces, improper pad-to-via spacing, etc. Detecting these issues during the design phase helps in avoiding problems during manufacturing, reducing rework and repair costs.

  • Improving manufacturing yield: DRC ensures that the design complies with manufacturing processes and requirements. By adhering to specifications and best practices, it enhances the manufacturing yield of the PCB on the production line, reducing errors and defects during manufacturing, and improving the quality and reliability of the product.

  • Reducing failure risks: DRC helps in identifying issues with critical signal traces, power lines, and ground lines, such as excessive trace length, insufficient guard traces, improper grounding connections, etc. By conducting these checks, it reduces the risks of signal interference, power noise, and other potential system failures.

  • Optimizing circuit performance: DRC ensures that circuit layout and routing meet design requirements such as signal integrity, impedance control, etc. By optimizing circuit layout and signal transmission, it enhances circuit performance and stability, reducing signal distortion and timing issues.

  • Ensuring product quality: By performing DRC, potential design issues can be identified and resolved in advance, ensuring that the PCB's quality meets expectations. This helps in avoiding the production of low-quality products, increasing customer satisfaction, and enhancing brand reputation.

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