PCB manufacturer: Collaborate with design houses while securing your intellectual property

By Keren Paryenti

How to make sure that your manufacturing process capabilities remain private, even when shared with others


Siemens presents a pending patent that will change the future of collaboration in the PCB design industry.  As a “left-shift” leader in PCB design development, at Siemens, we are focused on introducing innovative tools that facilitate PCB design-for-manufacturing (DFM) and accelerate collaboration between designers and board manufacturers.

ValorTM NPI, Siemens powerful PCB DFM analysis solution, reduces the number of design-to-manufacturer handoffs by allowing the designers to validate their design’s manufacturability at an early stage of the product life cycle.  Until now, any collaboration between manufacturers and designers was limited to standard channels (email for example), and vulnerable to security breaches.

PCBflow, a new and highly-secured Siemens cloud-based solution, allows manufacturers and designers to gain exposure to other companies in the industry and to collaborate with each other by exchanging design data and information on manufacturing capabilities.  Each member logs in to a protected area with their unique credentials.

The challenge: Secured online DFM

While each PCBflow subscriber is allocated a secured space for their proprietary data on a multi-tenant cloud server, an additional solution is required that will ensure that their intellectual property can only be accessed by invited participants – and not by unauthorized third parties.

To ensure security, Siemens developed a methodology that prevents unauthorized third parties from obtaining a manufacturer’s intellectual property.

Solution: How do we protect the manufacturer’s data?

Siemens offers a unique, patent-pending solution for protecting the manufacturer’s proprietary data. 

When a manufacturer uploads its DFM profile capabilities to PCBflow, the data is encrypted and saved in his account, ready to be used by designers that are approved by the manufacturer.  After the designer and the manufacturer establish a connection, the designer can run a DFM analysis based on the specific Manufacturing capabilities set. Leveraging the new patent-pending technology, once the designer selects the manufacturer’s constraint set (CS) to be used with Valor NPI, the software encrypts & digitally signs the CS using the designer’s account ID, so that only the designer with that ID can run a DFM analysis based on this constraint set.  The manufacturer’s data remains protected and cannot be shared with any other designer

PCBflow provides a trusted environment

Siemens has created a trusted environment that enables manufacturers to upload their proprietary data with the confidence that it will not end up in unauthorized hands.
The designers, in turn, can use the manufacturer’s profile to check the manufacturability of their designs, saving time and effort for both parties as they reduce the number of manufacturing cycles.
To access the PCBflow community, register at

This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at