Innovative PCB Stackup Design
Z-zero offers an all-in-one software solution to solve the data gap for PCB hardware design teams. Designed to look and operate like a spreadsheet, Z-zero's software enables hardware design teams to test, validate and automate their PCB design.
Z-field, Z-designer, Z-designer Enterprise and Z-solver software products have been in development since 2012. The company was officially established in 2018.
With software developers and engineers working in various locations around the world, Z-zero is headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA.
Founder, Bill Hargin
Our Mission is to reduce schedule delays and rework in the PCB development workflow, streamlining stackup design and validation processes, getting better products to market faster and saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process.
Our Vision is to see stakeholders in high-speed PCB workflows get their products to market faster and with higher reliability across multiple hardware OEMs, PCB fabricators, and laminate manufacturers.
"Far too many engineering teams leave stackup design, which is critical to signal integrity, to PCB fabricators, who are—more often than not—working with little electrical engineering expertise. As someone who’s designed more than 1,000 stackups over the years, I must say that I find Z-planner to be an exceptional stackup-planning tool. It has the most comprehensive library of laminates I have seen and is very user friendly. It would be an excellent addition to any signal integrity engineer’s tool set.”
-Lee Ritchey is one of the industry’s premier authorities on high-speed PCB & system design. He is the author of “Right the First Time” and the Founder & President of Speeding Edge.
Current Market Issue
Bill recognized a serious gap in PCB design workflows, requiring manual intervention. Manual intervention takes time and introduces an opportunity for errors, which often compromises product performance, as well as introducing costly project delays and rework.
Bill saw engineers and fabricators manually entering stackup descriptions into spreadsheets; and he saw signal integrity (SI) analysts re-entering the stackup information into SI simulators. This is the gap.
Information is sometimes lost between the spreadsheets and the simulators. Critical material details, important to laminate manufacturers and PCB fabricators, are often overlooked by hardware engineers and SI analysts because the information is all over the place.
Engineers typically build their own stackup spreadsheets using Dk and Df values from datasheets, while ignoring resin content and frequency. Then they rely heavily on third-party fabricators to resolve final-implementation details with stackup and materials long after simulations were performed—more often than not with data that differs from the as-fabricated printed-circuit board.
Z-Zero bridges this gap and automates information transfer between the functions (CAD design, hardware engineers, SI specialists and PCB fabricators in the PCB design, validation and new product introduction (NPI) workflow.
Where our Name Comes From
Just like a classic album cover or a PCB stackup, there are layers to the Z-zero name and logo that may not be apparent at first glance. Z-zero, usually represented as Z0 or Zo, represents the resistance to the flow of electromagnetic energy along a transmission line or through a component. Aligning impedances along a transmission-line path–through PCB traces, connectors, and cables–is fundamental to signal integrity. That’s the Zo part.
The Z in Z-zero also represents the fact that everything we do is in the Z-direction within a PCB. Electric fields (E-fields) in a PCB–between transmission lines and power and ground planes–are oriented normal to conductor surfaces, with the heaviest concentration of E-fields, composed of inductances and capacitances in the Z-direction, resulting in what we know as impedance.
If you like double entendres or multiple meanings for otherwise simple things, the word “Zero” has “Zo” on either end, with Er (relative permitivitty; aka: dielectric constant) in the middle. Did we think of all of this when selecting a company name and designing the logo? Actually, yes. 🙂 If you like depth and careful consideration of details, you’ll probably like our software too!