Military PCBs & Defense Electronics

by Northwest Engineering Solutions

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Aerospace & Defense Electronics

Today’s military systems incorporate more features, greater connectivity, and higher I/O counts than ever before. Military-grade PCBs must be able to withstand extreme environmental conditions such as high temperatures, humidity, and vibrations, while still performing reliably and consistently. Failure is not an option in critical military applications, which is why military-grade PCBs must meet strict quality and reliability standards.

NWES is a PCB design and layout services company that specializes in some of the most cutting edge areas of electronics development, including rugged systems design for defense electronics. We work with primes and subcontractors on a diverse range of systems, and our ITAR-compliant manufacturing partners can also help you take your design from idea to full-scale manufacturing. We look forward to working with you!

high speed pcb design IPC complianthigh speed pcb design ITAR complianthigh speed pcb design UL compliant

Military-Grade PCB Design Capabilities

Advanced Applications in Defense Electronics

The modern battlefield is heavily digitized and incorporates more connected electronic systems than ever before. We specialize in advanced electronic systems for deployment in electronic environments. Our products are used in guidance, military aircraft, commercial aircraft, power systems, and military IoT. We also work with fab vendor engineering to verify designs are compliant with IPC Class 3/6012 ES and Mil-Spec.

  • High-speed digital, high-GHz RF, & mixed-signal design
  • High-performance embedded computing (HPEC)
  • Sensor fusion platforms aligned with SOSA/MOSA
  • RF systems for data capture, communications, and advanced radar
  • Embedded AI-capable mil-aero hardware platforms

Atlium Designer




Defense Systems Expertise

SOSA aligned electronics

SOSA-Aligned Hardware

OpenVPX backplanes

VPX/OpenVPX Backplanes

Electronic materials

Interface Daughtercards

Electronic materials

FMC, XMC, & PMC Designs

Rugged Mission Computers

Rugged Mission Computers

OpenVPX backplanes

Compute for Sensor Fusion

Success in Military PCB Design

Military-grade PCBs supporting defense electronics must balance capability, manufacturability, and reliability no matter which domain they will occupy. Military circuit boards must be designed with reliability and standards conformance at top-of-mind to ensure products operate successfully, meet compliance requirements, and will be reliable in their envisioned operating environment.

  • Standards compliance - Defense electronics systems, whether in the hands of warfighters or deployed in sophisticated weapons systems, must meet important inspection, performance, and reliability standards.

  • SWaP-C optimization - Size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C) are imoprtant optimization targets for rugged electronics deployed in the air, at sea, on land, and in the hands of warfighters.

  • Reliability and DFM - Design for manufacturing (DFM) is inherent to ensuring reliability in military circuit boards and defense electronics. Success often requires close collaboration with a fabrication vendor to ensure performance targets are hit.

  • Enclosure and form factor - Interoperable defense electronic systems demand specific form factors that fit within standards compliance and ensure reliability. Form factor also enables thermal control primarily via conduction or convection.

  • Standard vs. HDI processing - More advanced systems with advanced embedded capabilities may require advanced fabrication processing to ensure a PCB can support the required features in the end product. Working with manufacturing partners helps ensure DFM and reliability needs are satisfied.

  • SI/PI/EMI - Signal integrity (SI) and power integrity (PI) are intimately linked, and the high number of fast I/Os in embedded military systems create challenges in both areas. Simulation and verification tools can speed up qualification and ensure performance requirements are met.

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Standards Compliance

As we help modernize and digitize systems deployed on the battlefield and intended for use in harsh environments, we keep an eye towards standards conformance and regulatory compliance. As part of compliance, we also we work with our network of manufacturing partners to develop a sourcing strategy that is sustainable. Our process gives a fully manufacturable design that can be produced anywhere. Many of the systems we design and produce are intended to be compliant with the following standards:

Standard Description
MIL-PRF-31032, MIL-PRF-55110, MIL-PRF-50884 • A set of military specifications for PCBs specifying the design, materials, manufacturing processes, and performance requirements for generic (MIL-PRF-31032), rigid (MIL-PRF-55110), and flex (MIL-PRF-50884) PCBs used in critical applications, including in defense and aerospace electronics.
IPC-6012, IPC-6013 • This pair of specifications covers the performance requirements and acceptance criteria for rigid PCBs (IPC-6012) and flexible PCBs (IPC-6013). Class 3/3A design, production, and performance requirements are covered in these standards.
IPC J-STD-001E • A widely recognized standard for the assembly and acceptance of electronic components, defining the requirements for the manufacturing of high-reliability electronic assemblies, including those used in aerospace, defense, medical, and other mission-critical applications.
SOSA (Sensor Open Systems Architecture) • A set of electronics design standards aimed at promoting open systems architecture for military and aerospace applications, improving the interoperability, affordability, and flexibility of sensor systems used in defense and aerospace applications.
VITA 46 (VPX) • A standard for ruggedized modular open systems architecture (MOSA) used in defense and aerospace applications, providing a framework for interoperability between different modules and components, including commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) to high-reliability military and aerospace systems.
VITA 65 (Open VPX) • A standard for backplanes and modules usedin high-performance embedded computing (HPEC) systems for defense and aerospace, providing a modular, scalable, and flexible architecture that spans custom and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) high-reliability hardware.
DO-160, DO-220 • This pair of testing standards and EMC standards applies to avionics, including coverage of humidity, shock, vibration, and ESD. DO-220 specifically addresses EMI susceptibility to ensure electronics can operate reliably in the presence of electromagnetic fields generated by other equipment or external sources.

Our Military Circuit Board Design Process

We streamline the innovation process for advanced electronics and help clients scale to volume production.
  • Contact us for a consultation and quote.

  • Provide a data package, specifications, and reference material through your ITAR-compliant file-sharing system.

  • We'll work with your front-end engineering team to complete schematic capture and prepare CAD data for layout.

  • We work with your team and fab vendor to qualify a PCB stackup and ensure your form factor requirements are met.

  • We perform a final DFM/DFA check and any signal integrity checks to ensure the design is ready for PCB manufacturing.

How We Work

Why Work With NWES?

  • Technical expertise - We're not a typical content company, we're electronics experts that love educating engineers. We're the best because we use your products and we know the value they help create.

  • Integrated strategy - We work with local and overseas CMs and EMS providers that are ISO-9001, AS9100, ISO-13485, IPC-A-610, and/or ITAR/JCP certified. We help you find the best option to produce prototypes and scale to volume production.

  • Supply chain management - We take a proactive approach on projects to ensure your design can be produced at the required volume. We'll manage procurement from major distributors or brokers throughout your project.

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Need a hand with a current or future PCB design project? Find out the difference our experts can make.

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