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Ensuring Connectivity:

Balancing Industry Best Practices and Project-Specific ERC Rules in PCB Design


The success of any PCB design hinges on achieving flawless electrical connectivity. This requires navigating the intricate world of Electrical Rule Checking (ERC) – a cornerstone of PCB design. Here, designers must adhere to established industry best practices for ERC while also considering project-specific rules set by individual companies. CircuitHawk™, a powerful design verification tool, emerges as a valuable ally in streamlining this process.

Industry Best Practices for Rock-Solid Connectivity: The Foundation of ERC

Industry best practices for ERC serve as the bedrock for reliable connections within your PCB design. These practices encompass a wide range of considerations, including:

  • Net connectivity: Ensuring all components within a net are properly connected with no open or shorted connections.

  • Power and ground integrity: Verifying proper power and ground plane connections to avoid power delivery issues and noise interference.

  • Antenna rules: Maintaining proper spacing between nets to minimize unwanted antenna effects and signal crosstalk.

  • Clearance and spacing: Adhering to recommended clearances between nets and components to prevent electrical shorts and ensure manufacturability.

  • Design for Test (DFT): Implementing test points and ensuring proper accessibility for probes during manufacturing testing.

Following these best practices during the design phase lays a strong foundation for robust electrical connectivity within your PCB.

Project-Specific Rules: Tailoring ERC for Unique Needs

While industry best practices provide a comprehensive framework, companies often establish their own set of project-specific ERC rules. These rules can be more stringent than industry standards or address unique aspects of the project's requirements. Some examples include:

  • Minimum trace width and spacing requirements: Companies may have stricter guidelines for these aspects to account for specific manufacturing processes or high-frequency applications.

  • Restricted component placement: Certain areas of the board might be designated as off-limits for specific components due to thermal or electrical considerations.

  • Custom via styles and rules: Companies might have preferred via types or specific via placement limitations based on their internal design philosophies.

  • Specific net naming conventions: Ensuring consistent and clear net naming can be crucial for internal documentation and future design modifications.

By adhering to these project-specific ERC rules, designers can ensure their designs are not only electrically sound but also perfectly aligned with the project's unique needs and the company's design philosophy.

CircuitHawk™: Bridging the Gap Between Best Practices and Project Needs

Managing the interplay between industry best practices and project-specific ERC rules can be a complex task. This is where CircuitHawk™ comes in – a comprehensive design verification tool that simplifies the process. CircuitHawk addresses both sets of needs through its powerful features:

  • Automated ERC Checks: CircuitHawk automates the process of verifying your design against both industry best practices and your company's specific ERC rules. This saves designers significant time and effort compared to manual checking.

  • Customizable Rule Sets: CircuitHawk allows you to import and configure your company's specific ERC rules, ensuring seamless integration with your existing design workflow.

  • Advanced Reporting: CircuitHawk provides detailed reports highlighting any ERC violations, allowing for efficient identification and rectification of potential connectivity issues.

  • Generative-AI Technology: CircuitHawk's AI capabilities might go beyond simply checking for rule adherence. It could potentially identify and address new or unforeseen ERC issues, contributing to a more robust design.

By leveraging CircuitHawk's capabilities, PCB designers can achieve:

  • Reduced Risk of Design Errors: Early identification and correction of ERC violations lead to fewer errors downstream in the manufacturing and assembly process.

  • Improved Design Efficiency: Automating ERC checks and streamlining rule management frees up valuable design time for focusing on innovation.

  • Enhanced Design Quality: Adherence to both industry best practices and project-specific rules ensures a design that is not only functional but also aligns with company standards.


In conclusion, navigating the world of ERC effectively requires a balance between established industry best practices and project-specific rules. CircuitHawk, with its comprehensive verification capabilities and customizable rule sets, empowers PCB designers to achieve this balance, leading to high-quality, error-free designs that meet both industry standards and company-specific requirements.

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