Altium Designer Documentation

Polygon Pour Improvements

Modified by Jason Howie on Apr 11, 2017

Polygon pours, often just referred to as polygons, are a standard object in most board designs. They allow the designer to flood areas of the board with copper, pouring around existing objects in accordance with the applicable Clearance design rules, connecting to same-net objects in accordance with the applicable Polygon Connect Style design rule.

In this release of Altium Designer, polygons continue to be improved with the introduction of:

  • Configurable automatic polygon naming
  • Intelligent dependency checking
  • Interactive pour order manipulation commands

Automatic Polygon Naming

In previous versions of Altium Designer, the naming of polygons was managed by the designer. Apart from the headache of having to define logical and meaningful names, name changes were not detected and applied to design rules that used the polygon name.

Automatic polygon naming is applied selectively to each polygon. A naming template is used to define a name for each auto-named polygon - the name is based on the layer, the connected net and a unique numerical index.

Auto-assigned names are continually monitored and managed by the software. If an attribute changes, such as the net assignment or the position of the layer in the layer stack, then the auto-assigned name is automatically updated.

Enabling Auto Naming

Auto naming is enabled for each polygon. This can be done in the:

Use the PCB Inspector panel or Polygon Pour Manager dialog to toggle the Auto Assigned Name for multiple polygons in a single action.

Selecting a Naming Template

How the polygons are named is determined by the selected Polygon Auto Naming Template. Select the required template in the Board Options dialog.

There are 4 choices of naming templates:

  • NET NAME_LXX_PXXX
  • LXX_NET NAME_PXXX
  • NET NAME_LAYER NAME_PXXX
  • LAYER NAME_NET NAME_PXXX

where:

  • NET NAME - name of the net that the polygon is connected to. If the polygon is not connected to a net, the name NONET is used.
  • LAYER NAME - user-defined name of that layer, from the Layer Stack Manager dialog.
  • LXX - system assigned copper layer number based on the current order of layers in the Layer Stack Manager dialog, where Top Layer is L01. This value is updated whenever the order of copper layers is changed.
  • PXXX - system-assigned numerical index, unique for each polygon on the board.


Select the preferred Auto Naming scheme in the Board Options dialog.

Design changes, such as moving a layer in the layer stack, renaming a net or changing the naming scheme will result in the automatic name changing. Affected design rules are automatically updated.

Polygon Pour Order Dependencies

As polygons are placed into the workspace, they are given a default position in the pour order, with each new polygon having the next priority down from the previous one.

The designer then sets the required pour order in the Polygon Pour Manager dialog, to suit the polygons in their design. For any given polygon, every polygon that has a higher priority than that polygon, is a dependent polygon.

Whenever a polygon is edited, every other polygon that is:

  • on the same layer, and
  • that touches the polygon being edited, and
  • has a higher priority than the one being edited,

is a dependent polygon, so must be repoured as part of the repour process for the polygon under edit. In this situation, each affected polygon is repoured in turn, starting with the highest priority, moving down to the lowest.


The polygon being edited has the highest priority, so the two dependent polygons are automatically repoured as well.

Controlling when Polygons are Repoured

The repour behavior for polygons can be set to be automatic, by enabling the Always repour polygons on modification (PCB Editor - General page of the Preferences dialog). When this option is enabled, as soon as you de-select the polygon (click in the workspace away from the polygon under edit), that polygon and all of its dependents are repoured.

If this option is disabled, then the Repour Polygons dialog will appear, where you can choose to:

  • repour the modified polygon and its dependents (enable the Repour all dependent polygons option and click Yes)
  • repour only the modified polygon (disable the Repour all dependent polygons option and click Yes)
  • not repour at all (enable the Repour all dependent polygons option and click No)


If the Always repour polygons on modification option is disabled, then this dialog will appear.

Typically you would repour the polygon under edit and its dependents, unless you are performing a series of edits on different polygons and you prefer to wait until all the edits are complete. Note that if you have said No to repouring a polygon, that polygon will not be repoured automatically later, unless it is a dependent of another polygon under edit. Use the Tools » Polygon Pours » Repour All command to resolve this.

Interactively Configure the Pour Order for Overlapping Polygons

When two polygons overlap, the software needs to know which one should occupy the shared area where they overlap. This is done by defining the pour order, with the higher-order polygon having precedence and pouring over the shared area. The pour order is displayed and managed in the Polygon Pour Manager dialog.


The Pour Order can be managed in the Polygon Pour Manager dialog, here MidLayer1 has 3 polygons, the currently selected polygon is poured second.

To allow the designer to be able to interactively configure the pour order of overlapping polygons, two new commands have been added to the right-click » Polygon Actions workspace menu:

  • Bring to Front - change the pour order so that the selected polygon is in front of all other overlapping polygons (has the highest precedence).
  • Send to Back - change the pour order so that the selected polygon is behind all other overlapping polygons (has the lowest precedence).


Change the pour order directly in the workspace with the Bring to front and Send to back commands.

 

 

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