The fundamental design task of searching for and choosing the most suitable component parts for PCB designs can be performed in a single, advanced panel available from within Altium Designer – the Manufacturer Part Search panel. As a replacement for the Part Search panel, the Manufacturer Part Search panel offers a sophisticated search feature based on categories and parametric filtering that allows you to zero in on the exact manufactured components you need, and also select a preferred supplier of that physical part based on cost and availability.
To open the Manufacturer Part Search panel, select View » Panels » Manufacturer Part Search from the main menu or the Manufacturer Part Search option from the button menu at the lower right of the main screen. When vertically docked, use the to toggle the panel layout between full screen (wide) mode and its narrow docked mode.
The panel harnesses the manufacturer and supplier data resources of the Altium Parts Provider service to source the most pertinent and up to date component data. A selected manufactured part can be downloaded as a library or acquired to a managed content server, or its parameters and datasheets added to an existing part in the design space. The preferred supplier(s) of that manufactured part may also be selected and added, as Supplier Link parameters, to an existing design part.
The panel’s advanced search engine allows it to be used in a straightforward search mode, by entering a query in the main Search field, or in its advanced parametric mode by progressively refining the search criteria using component type category choices and smart Filters – or indeed, by using both capabilities together.
When using the parametric search options, which is ideal for researching suitable manufactured parts for a design, the panel's filter options will dynamically adapt to the most relevant parameter choices based on the existing category/Filters selections. This allows you to quickly narrow the listed choices to the most suitable manufactured parts, which in turn are ordered by a combination of model availability, supplier stocks and price. Note that multiple options may be selected for a given (checkbox-based) filter attribute, and the filters also include unit-aware (text to number) search options for specifying a range of acceptable parameter values.
The currently selected filter options are shown above the parts list and may be removed (via their associated X icon) to modify the active search filtering. Similarly, individual choices in the Filters list may be removed by unchecking an entry or deselecting an option button.
A selected manufacturer part in the list is summarized by its column data, where all available parameter columns are active by default. Within the component listing, the content that is included may be managed by:
Case/Packagecode). Select the All option to reset the filter.
Parts with associated models are ready for use in designs and may be attained by:
Parts located through the panel are normally downloaded or acquired and then reused in designs as library components or Managed Components. Alternatively, a part may be placed in an active design directly from the panel using the Place option in the right click menu or button menu. Note that with this approach however, the placed component’s data source will be the Altium Content Vault rather than your own library/server.
Each part entry in the list also includes a link to the online manufacturer's data, and a link to a tabular list of supplier choices – again ordered by their price/availability suitability.
The supplier entries provide a snapshot of the current (live) stock level, pricing and supplier part number. Right click on a supplier cell to add the associated Supplier Link to a component part in the schematic editor, via the mouse cursor (Add Supplier Link to Part). The alternative Add Supplier Link and Parameters to Part option also adds all parameters for that manufacturer component to the schematic part.
When a Schematic Library is the active document, drag and drop a Supplier cell onto an entry in the SCH Library panel, or onto the editor space, to add that component Supplier Link. Alternatively, right click on the Supplier cell to add the link and/or the part parameters to the component selected in the SCH Library panel, or choose the Import into... option to add that component data as a new library entry.
Full details of the selected manufacturer part, including models if available, are presented in the panel’s Details section pane – on the right in the panel’s full screen mode. Use the panel's button (top right) to toggle the visibility of the Details pane.
The information and options presented in this section depend on the available component data, where a part may be downloaded, acquired or placed ( menu) if associated models are available, and datasheets viewed from the menu or from the pane's Datasheets list.
The drop down menu offers options to Acquire the component to an available managed content server (via the Create new component dialog and Component Editor) or Download the component locally as a Integrated Library Package in a zip archive. Alternatively, if models are not available for the selected component – it cannot be matched as a manufacturer part in the Altium Content Vault – the Part Request option is offered (if enabled at a server level).
Further options in the part Details section include:
The search engine behind the Manufacturer Part Search panel will source parts data from the Altium Parts Provider service – available when its extension is installed and enabled through the Extension and Updates view – and where possible, access matching schematic, PCB and Sim models from the Altium Content Vault. The match between a part listed in the Manufacturer Part Search panel and models from the content server is based on the manufacturer name and the manufacturer part number. In an Altium server, this is determined by the Part Choices associated with a managed component part.
In the example shown below, models from the Altium Content Vault are sourced by the panel because that particular LED component can be found in the content server, based on its Part Choices entry. All other data is sourced live from the Altium Parts Provider, giving you the latest Manufacturer and Supplier information for the selected component.
Since the selected component is available as an Altium Managed Component (indicated by its associated symbol), it is ready to be downloaded or acquired to your local component resources.
When a component part is Downloaded/Acquired from the Manufacturer Part Search panel the component data (both models and parameters) are sourced from the Altium Content Vault. In practice, the found component is matched to an Altium Managed Component, which will include its parameters when placed.
As an adjunct to this, the panel offers a rich source of parameter data with each part entry, courtesy of the Altium Parts Provider service – see the parameter list in the selected part Details section. These parameters represent the current manufacturer data for that part, and therefore relevant, up to date information that can be added to a component in a library/server or board design.
For example, use the right-click menu in the panel's parameters list to add selected parameters to a schematic component, or choose the Add Supplier Link and Parameters to Part option (as outlined above) when adding supplier data to a component. Note that parameters sourced from the panel are added to the schematic component's existing parameters.
The search engine and view used in the Manufacturer Part Search panel is also applied in other Altium Designer applications where component data is sourced. The Part Search functionality is included in these (modal) dialogs, along with an OK confirmation button and minor variations in the available action commands.
Manufacturer Part Choices:
The Compare feature allows you to compare parameters of two selected parts. This feature is accessed by selecting two parts in the grid region with the icon enabled (blue). The Selected Part Details region opens to the right of the grid region. The upper region (region 1 in the image below) displays the selected parts side-by-side. Click the Datasheet button to open the manufacturer's datasheet (if available) for the associated component.
The lower region (region 2 in the image below) displays a side-by-side view of the components' parameters, with differences highlighted in red text for easy comparison.