What is a Fiducial Mark/Marker?

A fiducial mark/marker is a circuit pattern recognition mark or marker. Basically, it is a round solder mask opening with round bare copper in the center. Bare copper has a smaller diameter than the solder mask opening. See picture 1.

Picture 1. Fiducial Mark

Pick and place machines use Fiducial marks as referent points on the PCB to position the Surface Mount Components (Packages) on the PCB during assembly of the Printed Circuit Board.

What is the size of fiducial marks?

It depends on assembly machines. Dimensions of 3.2mm solder mask opening diameter and 1.6mm diameter of bare copper or 2mm solder mask opening diameter and 1mm diameter of bare copper are excellent for almost all Assembly machines. Picture 2. shows dimensions of the fiducial marks.

Picture 2. Dimensions of the fiducial marks

How many and where to position them?

There aren’t strict rules for the number of fiducial marks. It is good if you position two fiducial marks on opposite corners of the PCB near corner edges. If you have BGA, QFN, QFP packages with small pitch on the layout, it is very useful to position one fiducial mark near every one of those packages/footprints. Picture 3. shows positions of the fiducial marks on the board with one QFN and one QFP package with small pitch.

Picture 3. Positions of the fiducial marks on the PCB 

We recommend you to place it on your panel. It is also helpful and sometimes necessarily to place four fiducial markers near panel frame corners.  It depends on assembly machine. Picture 4. shows positions of the fiducial marks on the panel frame edge.

Picture 4. Positions of the fiducial marks on the panel edge 

Do I need a Fiducial Mark/Marker on the both sides of a PCB?

If you have SMD components on both sides of a PCB you need to place Fiducial Mark/Marker on both sides top and bottom of your layout.
Here is interesting article about how to design a cheap PCB.

Tutorials in the category: PCB Design

  • Difference between the component (top) and the bottom side view
  • How to design a cheaper PCB?
  • Package outlines review and useful links
  • Shipment and handling package types
  • What is a Fiducial Mark/Marker?