QuickNav - PCB Design Objects

 

This page provides quick reference information about the design objects that can be used in a PCB document (and PCB Library document, where applicable), giving you a means to quickly navigate to more detailed information about each.

Graphical Overview

The following slides provide a collated visual of commonly used PCB design objects.

Javascript

Design objects that are commonly used in a PCB document (and PCB Library document, where applicable).

Notes

  1. You can also place a Reuse Block or a Snippet, where available, into a PCB document. For more information, see Ruse Blocks & Snippets.
  2. Some objects are not placed in the traditional sense (from a Place menu or the Active Bar). For example cartesian and polar grids are defined from the Properties panel for the board (with no object selected). Tuning objects (Accordion, Sawtooth and Trombone patterns) are 'placed' as part of interactive length tuning.
  3. The board shape, split lines and bending lines (not shown above) are also defined, rather than placed, when in Board Planning Mode (shortcut key: 1).
  4. There's a single Text object that can be defined in two modes - String or Text Frame. Also, a Barcode is not a separate design object, rather it is a representation/mode of a placed text object.

Key Objects Slideshow

Take a look through the slides below to see a variety of design objects highlighted 'in action' within a real board. A high-level intro to each object is given, along with a link to more detailed information. Note that focus is primarily on the objects that you'll use more regularly when laying out your physical boards.

Component

The component footprint defines the space and connection points needed to mount the physical component on the printed circuit board. It is a group object made up of a collection of simple primitive objects, which could include pads, lines and arcs, as well as other design objects. The pads provide the mounting and connection points for the component pins. Additional design primitives, such as lines and arcs, are often included to define the outline of the component shape on the component overlay (silkscreen) layer. Learn more...

 
Component Designator & Comment

The Designator and Comment fields are child parameter objects of a PCB component. The designator is used to uniquely identify each placed component to distinguish it from all other components placed in the PCB document. The comment is used to add additional information to a placed component. Both comment and designator are configured after the parent component object is placed. They are not design objects that you can directly place. Learn more...

 
3D Body

A 3D Body object is used as a container into which a standard-format generic 3D model, including STEP, SOLIDWORKS and Parasolid format models, can be imported to represent the three-dimensional shape of the physical component that is mounted on the assembled PCB. The actual 3D shape is displayed when the editor is switched to 3D display mode. If the physical component has been defined using a 3D body object, three-dimensional component clearance checking can be performed. Learn more...

Track

A Track segment is a straight line of a defined width. Tracks are placed on a signal layer to form the electrical interconnections, or routing, between component pads. Tracks also are used in group design objects, such as dimensions. Learn more...

Pad

Pads are used for fixing the component to the board and for creating the interconnection points from the component pins to the routing on the board. A pad can exist on a single layer as a Surface Mount Device pad, or it can be a three-dimensional thru-hole pad, having a barrel-shaped body in the Z-plane (vertical) with a flat area on each (horizontal) copper layer. The barrel-shaped body of the pad is formed when the board is drilled and thru-plated during fabrication. In the X and Y planes, a pad can have one of the predefined shapes (e.g., Round, Octagonal, Chamfered Rectangle) or you can make your own custom pad shape. Pads can be used individually as free pads in a design or, more typically, they are used in the PCB Library editor, where they are incorporated with other primitives into component footprints. Learn more...

 
Via

Vias are used to form a vertical electrical connection between two or more electrical layers of a PCB. Vias are three-dimensional objects and have a barrel-shaped body in the Z-plane (vertical) with a flat ring on each (horizontal) copper layer. The barrel-shaped body of the via is formed when the board is drilled and through-plated during fabrication. In the X and Y planes, vias are circular, like round pads. The key difference between a via and a pad is that as well as being able to span all layers of the board (top to bottom), a via can also span from a surface layer to an internal layer or between two internal layers. Learn more...

Polygon Pour

A Polygon pour is used to create a solid or hatched (lattice) area on a PCB layer, using either region objects or a combination of track and arc objects. Also referred to as a copper pour, a polygon pour is similar to a region except that it can fill irregularly shaped areas of a board as it automatically pours around existing objects, connecting only to objects on the same net as the polygon pour. On a signal layer, you can place a solid polygon pour to define an area for carrying large power supply currents, or as a ground-connected area for providing electromagnetic shielding. Hatched polygon pours are commonly used for ground purposes in analog designs. Learn more...

Region

A Region, also known as a Solid Region, is a polygonal-shaped object. It can be placed on a signal layer to define an area of solid copper to be used to provide shielding or to carry large currents. Positive regions can be combined with tracks or arc segments and be connected to a net. In the PCB Library editor, regions can be used to create custom pad shapes on copper layers or special mask shapes on the solder and paste masks. On non-electrical layers, regions can be used to define custom shapes for tasks such as logos. When placed as a negative, a region can create a cutout (a void) in a polygon pour. In this mode, the region will not be filled with copper when the polygon is poured. When used as a negative region for a board cutout (by placing it on the multi-layer), it defines an area that becomes a hole through the finished board. Learn more...

Keepout

A Keepout in PCB design is a user-defined area or perimeter placed (using Keepout Arc, Fill, Region and Track objects) in the layout that copper objects cannot intersect. Typically included to control the area used by automated copper placement actions, such as polygon pours and interactive routing, a keepout also represents an invalid location when manually placing copper objects. Keepouts are ideal for defining non-routable board regions (such as electrically sensitive or high voltage areas), specifically exposed copper locations such as in fiducials and testpoints, or mechanically incompatible areas (such as mounting holes or the corners of a PCB). Learn more...

Text

A Text object places a single-line string or multi-line text frame on the selected layer in a variety of display styles and formats including popular barcoding standards. It can be user-defined text or a special type of string, referred to as a special string that can be used to display board or system information or the value of user parameters on the board. The text frame is a resizeable rectangular area that can contain multiple lines of text and can automatically wrap and clip text to keep it within the bounds of the frame. Learn more...

 
Barcode

The software provides the ability to place barcode symbols directly onto a PCB on any layer, allowing barcodes to be easily imprinted on a PCB as part of the manufacturing process. Barcodes are commonly used to tag and identify PCBs, streamlining inventory tracking for example through the use of automated scan-machines. A barcode is placed within a PCB document as a Text object whose Font Type is set to BarCode. BarCode ISO Code 39 (US Department of Defense standard) and Code 128 (global trade identification standard) are supported. Learn more...

Room

A Room is a region that assists in the placement of components. Rectangular or polygonal type rooms can be placed on either the top or bottom layer of the board and can either be placed empty (associating components at a later stage) or placed around components in the design (automatically associating them to the room). Alternatively, orthogonal, non-orthogonal and rectangular-shaped rooms may be created automatically, based on selected components in the design space. Learn more...

Comment

A Comment is a user-added note that is assigned to a specific point, object, or area (as applicable) on a supported document type, and may be replied to by other users. Comments promote collaboration between users without altering the shared data itself, because comments are stored by the connected Workspace independently of that data. Comments are posted, replied to, and managed directly within the main design space using a contextual commenting window in conjunction with the Comments and Tasks panel. Learn more...

Tuning Object (Pattern)

The Interactive Length Tuning and Interactive Diff Pair Length Tuning features provide a dynamic means of optimizing and controlling net or differential pair lengths by allowing variable amplitude tuning patterns to be inserted, according to the available space, rules and obstacles in your design. Once placed, a tuning pattern (Accordion, Sawtooth, Trombone) becomes a selectable object that can be modified. Learn more...

Dimension

A Dimension object is comprised of one or more string and track segments. A variety of dimension objects are supported to cater for different design requirements, with each offering a high-level of customization of the arrows and text. When dimensioning an object, anchor points become available to you that highlight where the dimension can be attached. A dimension's value (where applicable) automatically updates as its start or end points are moved. Likewise, if the position of an object that a reference point of the dimension is anchored to is changed, the dimension will update and expand/contract to reflect this. Learn more...

Embedded Board Array

An Embedded Board Array is a design object that you place into the PCB design space and link to an existing board file. It stamps out the linked board from 1 to n times at the specified spacing. By placing multiple embedded board arrays you also can create a fabrication panel of different boards, or the same board can be laid out in a step and turn pattern. Layer stack, dimensioning, V-groove and route information can also be added to this 'manufacturing panel' PCB.

 

The embedded board array(s) used to create a representation of the manufacturing panel should be placed on a separate PCB document within the existing or alternate PCB project. This document should be considered the manufacturing 'hub' for other PCB documents that contain the actual designs. Learn more...

A-Z Listing

The following is a convenient alphabetical listing - no frills, no fuss - to be able to get at more detail for a particular design object in true QuickNav fashion.

 

Note

The features available depend on your level of Altium Designer Software Subscription.

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