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Your Ultimate Guide to PCB Rulers

Blog  /  Your Ultimate Guide to PCB Rulers

Your Ultimate Guide to PCB Rulers

Mar 8, 2024

In the world of PCB design and manufacturing, having the right tools is crucial for achieving accuracy and precision. One such tool that has gained popularity among professionals and hobbyists is the PCB ruler. This specialized measuring tool is designed to provide accurate measurements, reference information, and component footprints, assisting designers, engineers, technicians, and assemblers in various stages of PCB development. In this guide, we'll explore what a PCB ruler is, the features and measurements it offers, how to choose the right PCB ruler, and tips for creating a custom one.

JLCPCB ruler

What is a PCB Ruler?

A PCB ruler is a dedicated measuring tool specifically designed for PCB-related tasks. Crafted from durable materials like FR-4 or metal, these rulers ensure longevity and accuracy. They feature a wide range of markings, encompassing measurements, component footprints, and various reference guides. These elements are aimed at facilitating efficient PCB design and assembly processes.

The Main Functions of a PCB Ruler

A PCB ruler primarily serves two vital purposes in the PCB design process.

Firstly, it provides accurate measurements and reference information for electronic components and traces on a printed circuit board. This knowledge is essential to prevent mistakes during the welding process, ensuring precise component placement and proper circuit functionality.

Secondly, the ruler aids in visualizing and understanding the packages of components such as resistors, capacitors, inductors, and IC chips, allowing designers to make informed decisions during the design phase.

JLCPCB ruler

PCB Ruler Features and Measurements

The markings on a PCB ruler serve multiple purposes and offer valuable features to designers. Here are some key features of PCB rulers:

1. Measurement Precision for Component Layout

Accurate measurements provided by the ruler enable designers to plan and lay out components on the board with precision. This assists in avoiding design errors and optimizing component placement within the available space.

2. Optimizing Trace Width for Performance

Many PCB rulers include trace width references, helping designers determine the appropriate trace width based on factors like current carrying capacity. By utilizing these references, designers ensure that the PCB can handle the required electrical current without any performance issues or overheating.

3. Visualizing Component Size and Shape

PCB rulers offer more than just measurements and trace width references. They also incorporate component footprints, allowing designers to visualize the size and shape of electronic components. This enables them to ensure compatibility with the available space on the PCB and make informed decisions during the component selection process.

By utilizing the precise measurements, trace width references, and component footprints provided by PCB rulers, designers can achieve accurate component placement, optimal trace routing, and adherence to industry standards. The use of a PCB ruler not only saves time but also minimizes errors, resulting in high-quality PCB designs.

JLCPCB ruler

How to choose the right PCB ruler?

When selecting a PCB ruler, several factors should be considered to ensure its suitability. Here are four important factors to keep in mind:

1. Accuracy:

Choose a PCB ruler that provides accurate measurements and component footprints to ensure precise design and compatibility.

2. Durability:

Considering the demanding nature of PCB design, select a ruler made from durable materials such as stainless steel or acrylic. This ensures its longevity and reliability throughout the design process.

3. Ease of use:

Opt for a PCB ruler with clear markings, easy-to-read fonts, and user-friendly features such as color-coded sections. These characteristics enhance the designer's experience and overall efficiency.

4. Compatibility with design software:

Some PCB rulers are designed to be compatible with popular design software, allowing designers to import measurements and footprints directly into their projects. This streamlines the design process and improves efficiency.

Making Your Own PCB Ruler

If you prefer a custom PCB ruler tailored to your specific needs, follow these steps:

PCB ruler design file

Plan the design:

Determine the specific features and measurements you want to include on your ruler, such as trace widths, drill sizes, and component footprints.

Use PCB design software:

Utilize software like EasyEDA, KiCad, or Altium Designer to create your ruler design. Take advantage of precise measurement tools, component libraries, and design rule checks for accuracy.

Determine size and scale:

Choose a suitable size for your ruler, ensuring it fits within your workspace and is easy to read. Common dimensions include lengths of 15 centimeters (150 mm) or 6 inches.

Choose a suitable material:

Select a durable and stable material for your ruler, considering factors like rigidity and resistance to environmental factors. FR-4 fiberglass or aluminum are popular choices.

Ensure clear markings:

Use appropriate line thicknesses and font sizes to enhance readability on your ruler, ensuring the measurements are clear and legible.

Verify accuracy:

Compare your ruler to a calibrated reference or standard ruler, making adjustments as needed to ensure precise measurements.

Include alignment marks:

Add alignment marks or registration features to aid accurate positioning during PCB layout tasks.

Incorporate component footprints:

Optionally include commonly used component footprints to serves a quick reference during PCB layout.

Export and fabricate:

Export your PCB ruler design in Gerber format and choose a reliable manufacturer. Specify the material, layer stackup, copper weight, solder mask color, and silkscreen preferences. Provide the necessary files and specifications, following the manufacturer's guidelines for smooth fabrication.

Review and test:

Thoroughly review and test the accuracy of your custom PCB ruler upon receiving it. Verify the measurements against a calibrated reference and ensure that the markings are clear and legible. Make any necessary adjustments for future iterations if needed.

PCB ruler design file


In conclusion, PCB rulers remain essential tools in the realm of PCB design and manufacturing. Despite the availability of online tools, physical PCB rulers offer crucial advantages for real-world PCB design. They provide precise measurements, facilitate accurate component placement, and enhance the overall development process. By utilizing PCB rulers, designers and manufacturers can boost efficiency, minimize mistakes, and achieve superior quality PCBs.


JLCPCB ruler

The JLCPCB ruler combines both imperial and metric units of measurement. It prominently displays numerical values from 0 to 20 centimeters, showcasing its accurate measurement capabilities. Additionally, smaller increments between the printed numbers allow for precise measurements. The ruler is also adorned with a cute cartoon bear. To obtain the JLCPCB ruler, simply order it here on