Layer Stack Management Enhancements (New Feature Summary)

Created: May 11, 2016 | Updated: December 14, 2017

Altium Designer 17.0 delivers a powerful enhancement to the way in which saved layer stack information is loaded into the current PCB. Rather than a blanket replacement of the current layer stack with the one being loaded, you now have the ability to control how the layers will be added, effectively performing a merge of the two stacks, to arrive at the desired stack setup.

In addition, if you are connected to an Altium Vault, you now have the ability to save your layer stack as a managed item in that vault, and load a stack from a vault. And by extension, if your company is using environment configuration management (through the Altium Vault's Team Configuration Center service), layer stack usage can be managed through this system, allowing the use of all, or specific Layerstack Items stored in the vault, and shared with the defined role(s).

Note that only the Master layer stack is considered when being imported.

Saving a Layer Stack

You now have the choice of where to save your current layer stack, accessed by clicking the Save button at the top-left of the Layer Stack Manager dialog:

  • Save to File - save the layer stack into a Stack-up file (*.stackup).
  • Save to Vault - save the layer stack data into a revision of a target Layerstack Item in a target Altium Vault.

New save commands give you the choice of where to save your layer stack data.
New save commands give you the choice of where to save your layer stack data.

An example of a released Layerstack Item in an Altium Vault.
An example of a released Layerstack Item in an Altium Vault.

Loading a Layer Stack

Conversely, you now have the choice of where to load a layer stack from, accessed by clicking the Load button at the top-left of the Layer Stack Manager dialog:

  • Load from File - load a layer stack that has previously been saved to a Stack-up file (*.stackup).
  • Load from Vault - load layer stack data from a revision of a target Layerstack Item in a connected Altium Vault.
The Load button's menu will also present the available (and shared) Layerstack Items in the Altium Vault in which you are currently signed-in.

New load commands give you the choice of where to load your layer stack data from.
New load commands give you the choice of where to load your layer stack data from.

Merging Layer Stacks

When you load layer stack data - be it from a .stackup file, or a Layerstack Item in a vault - the Merge Layer Stacks dialog will appear. Use this dialog to control how the layers in the existing stack, and the layers in the stack being loaded, are to be used, to arrive at the required final stack to be used for the board.

You now have full control over how layers from an imported layer stack are used.
You now have full control over how layers from an imported layer stack are used.

The New Layer column corresponds to the layer stack being loaded/imported, while the Old Layer column corresponds to the existing, current layer stack for the board. The Used column shows which layers currently have primitives placed on them in the board design. Use the Create column to specify that an imported layer be used (checked) or not (unchecked).

The Action column details what is to be done for the associated layer:

  • Move Primitives - layer being loaded will be used, and existing primitives on the current layer will be moved to that layer.
  • Add - not a layer in the current stack, will be added to the stack.
  • Skip - not a layer in the current stack, will not be added to the stack.
  • Skip & Delete - layer exists in the current stack, but is no longer required. Do not import the layer from file/vault item, and delete the existing layer from the stack.

The default state for the dialog is to:

  • Map existing layers (those used in the board's current layer stack).
  • Add new layers - found in the layer stack being loaded.
  • Add all layers that are currently being used in the board design (i.e. have primitives placed upon them).

So now, even if you have a layer that is in the current stack, but not in the new, loaded stack, you can preserve it, rather than it being automatically removed as was the case previously. In addition, primitives are not deleted, but rather simply moved to the newly created layer. And if you disable the creation of a layer, and that layer is used and has primitives on it, you will be alerted to this, and asked to confirm.

There is also validation, so that a mechanical layer cannot be mapped to a signal layer!

Ordering of the layers is consistent with the ordering presented in the Layer Stack Manager dialog, with all mechanical layers appearing after the physical layers.

The grid supports familiar grouping, sorting and filtering. In addition, the Create column can be quickly populated using commands on the right-click context menu.

 

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