Our New Glossary of Printed Circuit Board Design and Manufacturing

(with Electrical Engineering and related fields.) is currently in development.


(FUUT print)     [Pronunciation Key.]

noun - PCB Layout A graphic software (artwork) representation of the pattern and space on a printed circuit board taken up by a component, with special handling for the portions for solder to attach. On a manufactured board the body of a footprint is represented is an epoxy-ink outline and the terminals as exposed metal. In Altium Designer, a footprint can have a 3D body.

Footprints are designed by the PCB designer based on datasheets from manufacturers.

Also called a land pattern, the footprint forms the pattern of exposed metal on a PCB that allows the component to be soldered. If the component is a through-hole type, the footprint includes numerical controlled drill data, so that the holes that the leads get inserted into are available and in a pattern that fits the component.

Footprints in artwork become patterns on manufactured PCBs and should be carefully vetted so that errors don't occur during assembly. A footprint is given a name by the PCB designer when he builds it. The name of a footprint is customarily a description of its size and shape and can also include an abbreviation standing for the category of electrical function of its corresponding component. E.g. CAP, RES, DIO or LED for capacitor, resistor, diode or light emitting diode respectively.

Also called a decal, because hand tape-up of printed circuit boards employed the use of pull-off and paste decals to represent components. Also called a part or package. The derivation of the term is intuitive and metaphorical. In forensics, a footprint made by a person can be matched to his shoe and place him at the scene of a crime. In PCB manufacturing, the footprint had better match the component or someone is in trouble--the PCB layout person.

Except where cited as a bibliographic reference, the content of this glossary was written by John Walt Childers, who also programmed the MySQL and PHP herein. He received help in the form of instruction from the open source community. Click here for full development credits and more information about how this PHP glossary engine came about.

The terms included in this glossary all relate in some way to PCB design and only the definitions in that context are included. The definitions are intended to include helpful information for the PCB designer and in this wise may be improved over time.

While the new glossary is being transitioned to and developed, our legacy glossary is still in use.

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