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How to Panelize Mulitple Boards

For many reasons sometimes its convenient to combine multiple boards onto a panel and have a pcb fab house fab the panel of several boards rather then having them fab several smaller boards.  The PCB house will not cut the boards out completely but they will do either a tab route or score the area in between the boards so they can just snap apart. 

I wanted to do this for a set of boards i was making but i didn’t know what i was supposed to do in my cad software so that they would make the appropriate cuts.  After searching for a while i was suprisingly unable to come up with anything. 

So, i asked technical support at Advanced Circuits and they provided me with the following:
“For tab route we need at least .100 mils spacing from edge of board to edge of board. If you have a spot you want the tabs than show that by a break in the line.  Here is a pic of a tab route.  Hope this helps.”

[Click To Enlarge]
[Click To Enlarge]

In this picture you can see the you just need to draw a board outline around all the areas where you want the router bit to cutout.

Below is a picture of the board that i did a tabbed route on.  When i was getting a quote you’re supposed to indicate the number of CNC Route Points which is defined as how many times the routing bit has to change directions.  This board layout has a total of 26. 

[click to enlarge]
[click to enlarge]

Related FAQ

The following was copied directly from Advanced Circuits FAQ:

What does CNC Route points mean?  Each corner or “turn” on your pcb is a rout point - that is every time the router bit turns or stops. Each radius is three points. Count 8 for a circle and for each tab-routed pcb in an array configuration.

What is tab route?  A tab route is used for arrays. The customer can place more than one part (same or different design) up in a given area in an array or panelized configuration. This is typically for the convenience of the customer or for assembly requirements that utilize pick and place machines to load components. The pcbs are then snapped or cut apart. Tabs are usually 0.05” in width.

What does “scoring” mean?  This is a “v” notch on the top and bottom of an array configuration of multiple pcbs of the same design. The cut is usually 1/3 top, 1/3 bottom, leaving 1/3 uncut in the middle. This process is used when the printed circuit boards are typically set up side by side and end to end in closer proximity to one another than they are in tab routing. After assembly the boards are broken or snapped apart.