How Do You Manage Component Obsolescence in SMT Circuit Board Design?

Manage Component Obsolescence in SMT Circuit Board Design

Managing component obsolescence is a challenge in any electronics design process. As we continue to squeeze more and more components onto smaller PCBs, the risk of obsolete components entering a design becomes a real threat to the product’s production. In many cases, the best way to avoid these problems is to work with an EMS (electronics manufacturing services) partner who has an existing network of vetted suppliers and knows how to find alternative parts for any potential issues. These partners are able to provide the quickest solution possible in the event of a component going EOL.

Larger Original Equipment Manufacturers produce in huge volumes, often reaching millions of units over repeated production runs, and need to ensure that their products have the longest lifecycle possible. For these manufacturers, the first step in avoiding problems with obsolescence is to make lifetime buys on critical components when they are available. This will give them a chance to secure the parts they need at reasonable prices. However, the availability of this option for smaller companies is not always assured, and they may not be able to take advantage of it.

It is also important for designers to have access to a real-time supply chain data solution within their smt circuit board design software. While some PCB design solutions claim to include this data, they can fall short by not updating this information in a timely manner. The ideal solution is to use a software tool that allows designers to access this data directly from the manufacturer’s site and within their design. This is what Altium Designer does, and it provides the ideal way to manage obsolescence right from the initial phases of the design process.

How Do You Manage Component Obsolescence in SMT Circuit Board Design?

There are a few other ways to prevent the problem of obsolescence from impacting a design. One method is to use second source components where possible. This is standard practice and will protect a design from the risk of EOL events in the future. However, it is necessary to check that the second source component can deliver the same performance as the original part.

Another method is to redesign the circuit board using a different component that can perform the same function. This can be a difficult task and it is important to consider all aspects of the board or module when undertaking such a re-design. However, in the case of a device that has been in market for some time, it may not be feasible to undertake a full redesign.

In most cases, solder mask is green in color. However, it’s also possible to use red, blue, black, and other colors for specialized or aesthetic reasons. Choosing the right color is a matter of personal preference and your specific product requirements.

Another option is to use an in-between solution, such as a daughter board that can replace the obsolete component or sit between the PCB and an LCD panel and convert the signals. While this is a complex approach, it can be much faster and more cost effective than a complete redesign. In addition, it will help to reduce the lead times associated with the redesign.

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