Altium Designer Documentation

Support for Rectangular Pad Holes

Modified by Jason Howie on Dec 14, 2017

Adding to Altium Designer's pad hole options of round, square and slotted definitions, the new Altium Designer 15 release includes enhanced hole support through the addition of Rectangular shaped holes.

This is implemented as an extension of the existing square hole capability, and caters for occasions where a rectangular hole is desired for the placement of specialized components or larger hardware items such as modules, etc.

A rectangular hole can be applied to any pad shape.

Rectangular pad holes are produced by board fabricators using a variety methods depending on the available equipment and hole shape accuracy requirements. Both square and rectangular holes can be created using specialized techniques such as NC routing/milling (using a tightly-controlled, extremely small tool), a punch and die machine, laser cutting or a proprietary square-hole drilling machine.

Defining a Rectangular Pad Hole

In Altium Designer, the rectangular holes are defined using the newly reconfigured Hole Information options in the Pad dialog.

The previous Square hole options have been redefined as Rectangular hole options, where a square hole configuration is now implemented as a rectangular hole of matched X/Y dimensions. With all pad hole options, the dialog provides immediate visual feedback on the current pad design.

Rectangular holes are defined by an updated version of the previous Square hole configuration.

Select Rect in the Hole Information options to define a rectangular (or square) pad. A Length setting of zero or bank defines a square hole (matched X/Y dimension), while any other setting will define the hole’s X dimension – the effective Y dimension is determined by the Hole Size setting.

In summary, the Hole Information settings for rectangular pad holes are:

  • Hole Size: X-dimension ('height')
  • Length: Y-dimension. Note: 0 = square hole (matching X/Y settings)
  • Rotation: Hole angle (degrees of CCW rotation)

Integration in Altium Designer

Altium Designer provides full support for Rectangular pad holes, with corresponding 2D/3D graphics compatibility, polygon pour, clearance and power plane integration, Live Drill Table inclusion and more.

This includes the Hole Size Editor, where an overview of the design's current pad holes is available for both managing and editing all pad hole types.

Altium Designer's Drill Table and Hole Size Editor (and more) also support rectangular pads.

Fabrication Outputs

Support for rectangular and square pad holes also flows through to the generation of fabrication output files.

For Drill File outputs, generated both individually and as an OutJob, separate drill files (NC Drill Excellon format 2) are generated for each hole kind (round, square, rectangular and slot) as well as for plated and non-plated holes. Multiple drill files are generated for these hole types. Note that Rectangular holes can be plated or unplated.

Nominal output support is also provided for other manufacturing outputs such as ODB++, Gerber and PDF printouts etc. These, plus the newer, advanced fabrication standards available in Altium Designer such as Gerber X2 and IPC-2581 formats currently express rectangular holes as slots.

Contact your board fabrication house to ascertain its capability to produce rectangular (or square) holes, and to determine suitable fabrication output formats and a method of notifying the presence of rectangular/square holes in your design.
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