Altium Designer Documentation

Layer Stack Manager

Modified by Phil Loughhead on Jun 19, 2017


The Layer Stack Manager dialog.

Summary

The Layer Stack Manager dialog allows the designer to configure the layers of the board. It also allows designer to configure drill pairs and impedance formula editor. 

Additionally, for Flex-Rigid design, the designer can add sub layer stack for different board regions. 

The Layer Stack Manager dialog can be used in two modes: Simple or Advanced. Click the Simple/Advanced button at the lower left to toggle between these two modes.

Access

The Layer Stack Manager dialog can be accessed by selecting Design » Layer Stack Manager from the toolbar. 

Options/Controls

Simple Mode

 In its Simple mode, the dialog provides the features and functionality to manage the layers in the stack for a simple, rigid PCB.

  • Save - Click this button to save the current layer stack settings as a .Stackup file. Stackup files can be loaded when you create a new PCB.
  • Load - Click this button to load a .Stackup file and apply it to current PCB layer stack.
  • Preset - Altium Designer provides some reference layer stack settings from Two Layer up to 16 Layer. Use this button to quickly load these presets and apply them to your PCB.

Stackup loading and preset loading is not possible if any of the layers are used on the board.

  •  - Check this option to show the Layer Stack in 3D mode.
  •  - Click to roll roll layer stack changes backward.
  •  - Click to roll roll layer stack changes forward.
  •  - Click this icon to take a screenshot of the current layer stack preview and save a copy of the screenshot to the clipboard. See the example of a typical Board Layer Stack screenshot below:


    Example of a typical Board Layer Stack screenshot.
     
  •  - Click this icon to copy the selected content to the clipboard. Alternately, use the shortcut key Ctrl + C.
  •  - Click this icon to paste the content in Clipboard to target location. Alternately, use the shortcut key Ctrl + V.

Content from the main table in the Layer Stack Manager can be easily copied and pasted into an external spreadsheet, such as in Microsoft Excel. Right-click in the table to utilize Copy With Header.

  • Layer Stackup Style - Changing the layer stackup style changes the way that the core and prepreg layers are distributed through the layer stack. Defining the stackup style is only required if you plan to use blind and buried vias and for signal integrity analysis. Select one of the following layer pairs for this layer stack up:
    • Custom 
    • Layer pairs
    • Internal Layer pairs
    • Build up

Use this option to select the technology that will be used to build the board, the available options include: Layer PairsInternal Layer PairsBuild-up or Custom. Note that this option does not affect the final design of the layer stackup, it is simply used to help select the appropriate type of dielectric layer to add and the location in the stack where it is added, when you run the Add Layer command. In all modes other than Custom, whenever a signal layer is added, a dielectric layer will also be added. The type and location of dielectric added depends on the current number of layers used and the current Style setting. Note that once a second layer Stack has been added, the Style is automatically set to Custom. In Custom mode, new layers are added one-by-one.

  • Add Layer - Click to open a pop-up menu from which to select and add desired layers, including Signal Layer, Internal Plane, Dielectric Layer, Overlay, Solder Mask. In simple mode, Add Layer is quite straight forward. While in Rigid-Flex, it'll be a little bit complicated. We'll discuss the control in Advanced Mode later.
  • Delete Layer - Click to delete the selected layer.
There is no confirmation dialog for deleting a layer. Once you click Delete Layer, the selected layer will instantly be deleted.
  • Move Up - Click to move the selected layer upward.
  • Move Down - Click to move the selected layer downward.
  • Drill Pairs - Click to open the Drill-Pair Manager dialog, which allows you to configure the required drill pairs for the active layer stack. View the Drill-Pair Manager dialog page for more information.
  • Impedance Calculation -  Click to open the Impedance Formula Editor dialog which allows you to to view and, if required, modify the formulae used to calculate Impedance and Trace Width, when using impedance-controlled routing. View the Impedance Formula Editor dialog page for more information.
  • Advanced - Click this button to switch to Advanced Mode.

Layer Properties

Double-click on editable properties to enter text-editing mode or access drop down menus. Note that not all properties are editable.

Top/Bottom/Signal Layer

  • Name - Specify a name for the layer.
  • Thickness - Specify the thickness for the selected signal layer.
  • Orientation - Specify the direction of the embedded components in signal layer, options include: TopBottomNot Allowed. This can be overridden if needed at the individual component level, by enabling the Flipped on Layer checkbox in the Component properties dialog.

Dielectric Layer

  • Name - Specify a name for the layer.
  • Type - Displays the type of layer. The layer type is determined when the layer is created.
  • Material - Specify the Solder Mask type, options include: Surface Material, PrepregCoreNone. or None. The layer material may be determined by the layer type.
  • Thickness - Specify the thickness of the layer. Thicknesses are measured in mm or mil. You can change the unit of measurement used in the dialog by pressing the Ctrl+Q hotkey.
  • Dielectric Constant - Specify the dielectric constant of the solder mask material.
  • Coverlay Expansion - Specify the thickness for a custom coverlay. Coverlay is an insulation layer that is cut and laminated onto specific areas of the board. Because of this selective use, custom coverlay also known as a bikini coverlay
In order for the Coverlay Expansion column to appear, the Custom Coverlays option must be enabled in the Board Region dialog for that region of the board.

Internal Plane Layer

  • Name - Specify a name for the layer.
  • Thickness - Specify the thickness of the layer.
  • Pull Back - Specify the pullback value for the internal plane.

Solder Mask Layer

  • Name - Specify a name for the layer.
  • Type - Specify the Solder Mask type, options include: Surface Material, PrepregCoreNone.
  • Material - Specify the mask layer material.
  • Thickness - Specify the thickness of solder mask.
  • Dielectric Constant - Specify the dielectric constant of the solder mask material.
  • Coverlay Expansion -

Overlay

  • Name - Specify a name for the layer.

Layer Stack Preview - Located to the right of the main table, a graphical preview of the current layer stack up is displayed.

Advanced Mode

For rigid-flex PCBs, you need to get at additional controls for adding and managing multiple sub-stacks. This is performed by entering the dialog's Advanced mode. 

In the Layer Stack Manager dialog, below controls are enhanced or added for this purpose.

Stack Layout

  • Layer Stackup Overview - Shows the graphical preview of multiple sub-stacks in current design.
  • Add Stack - Click to add a new sub layer stack, which can be assigned to different board regions in Flex-Rigid design.

Select an existing layer and click the Add Stack button to add a new layer stack. The properties of the new layer stack will be identical to the source stack

  • Delete Stack - Click to delete a selected sub layer stack.
  • Show Stacks Option - Click to select the stacks you want to show
    • Show All Stacks
    • Show User Stacks
    • Show Managed Stacks
  • Move Left - Click to move the selected sub layer stack to left.
  • Move Right - Click to move the selected sub layer stack to right.

Stack Properties

  • Name - Specify the name of the layer stack. Each stack should be named to uniquely identify it. This helps it to be correctly applied to a user-defined board region.
  • Flex - Enable this option for Rigid-Flex design. Each stack that is flexible needs to have its Flex option enabled, so that required flex bending properties can be applied.
  • Stack In Use - If the check option is ticked, it indicates the selected stack is in use in current design.
  • Managed - Check this option to set selected stack layers to be managed

Each stack that is flexible needs to have the Flex checkbox enabled, so that required flex bending properties can be applied.
Note that flex bending is defined by placing a Bending Line across the flex region (Press 1 to enter into rigid-flex defining mode and choose Design » Board Shape from menu), and then editing its properties in the PCB panel when the panel is set to Layer Stack Regions mode.

  • Add Layer - Click to open a pop-up menu from which to select and add desired layers, including Signal Layer, Internal Plane, Dielectric Layer, Overlay, and Solder Mask. New layers are always added to the selected stack.

The currently selected stack has its name highlighted with a blue background, in the stack region of the dialog

  • Simple - Click Simple button to switch to Simple Mode.
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