Altium NEXUS Documentation

New in CoDesigner

Created: September 9, 2020 | Updated: September 14, 2021

Contents

All Contents

Parent page: ECAD-MCAD CoDesign

Altium's CoDesigner technology connects the mechanical and electrical design domains, allowing the mechanical and electronic engineers to pass the loaded PCB back and forth between the two domains.

In Altium NEXUS this is achieved through an extension that loads and extracts board and component data from the PCB editor, the MCAD CoDesigner extension (in earlier versions this was performed by the Collaboration Panel extension). In the MCAD software the Altium CoDesigner Add-in performs the same function, loading and extracting board and component data from the MCAD software.

The ECAD and the MCAD software pass design changes through an Altium Workspace, hosted on the NEXUS Server. The Workspace acts as a bridge, with both the ECAD and MCAD software connecting to it. The Workspace holds the board and component data, allowing the ECAD and MCAD engineers to continue to work autonomously, Pulling and Pushing their changes when they are ready.

CoDesigner is under continuous development, this page outlines the changes made in each version. Because the CoDesigner extension and Add-ins can be updated separately from the Altium NEXUS update cycle, this page also includes information about supported versions of Altium NEXUS, as well as the supported versions of MCAD software.

  • Download and install the version of Add-in you require for your MCAD software from the MCAD CoDesigner Plugins section on the Altium Downloads page.
  • The updates are listed in reverse order on this page - you'll find the latest updates at the top of the page.
  • The features available in Altium CoDesigner depend on your Altium Subscription Plan. Learn more about the features included in each Subscription Plan.
  • For the latest announcements and engaging topic conversation, head on over to the MCAD CoDesigner forum.

If you're an Altium NEXUS designer, you'll find videos on this page that demonstrate CoDesigner features using Altium Designer. The process of CoDesigning between Altium NEXUS and your MCAD software is the same, the only difference is that in earlier versions of Altium NEXUS you use the Collaboration panel, not the MCAD CoDesigner panel.


New in CoDesigner 2.6.0

Released: 3 September 2021 – Version 2.6.0

Feature Highlights

Support for Change History and Rejection Comments

For NEXUS Server users, this feature will be available in the next update of the NEXUS Server.

CoDesigner now displays the full history of accepted and rejected changes, along with any comments the engineer has entered if a change is rejected. The history of changes is shown in CoDesigner's panel, making the interaction between the electrical and mechanical engineers more transparent. As soon as changes are applied/rejected on one side the engineer on the other side is notified, and any rejection comments are displayed.

Change history makes it easy for the engineers on both sides to be aware of each other's responses to the changes being made.

A complete history of the changes that have been made in the project can also be viewed in your Workspace (using your browser), or in Altium NEXUS.

To view the history in your browser first open the project (it will open in a separate browser tab), then click on History in the panel on the left. To view the history in Altium NEXUS, select Project » History & Version Control » Show Project History from the menus.

The history of changes can be viewed in the Workspace.

Note: This feature is not available under the Standard subscription plan on Altium 365.

Options for Naming of Component Models

For NEXUS server users, this feature will be available in the next update of the NEXUS server.

CoDesigner now provides four options for controlling how component models are named, during their initial transfer from ECAD to MCAD:

  1. <FootprintName>, then <ComponentID> (this is the default option, and how it worked before this change)
  2. <ComponentID>, then <FootprintName>
  3. <FootprintName>, then <CustomComponentProperty>
  4. <CustomComponentProperty>, then <FootprintName>

Configure the Naming of Component Models option in the MCAD CoDesigner section of the Workspace Settings.

Select the Naming option and if it includes a Custom Component Property (parameter), define the parameter name.

These new options simplify the interaction with the components in MCAD, allowing the MCAD engineer to add meaningful information such as part numbers into the Component ID, or the ECAD engineer to add a Custom Component Property in the ECAD component library.

The MCAD model is named based on the naming option configured in the Workspace.

Notes:

  • The option can be changed by an Administrator in the Admin > Settings > MCAD CoDesigner section when you are logged into your Workspace in a browser.
  • Changing the option will not change the name of component models that have already been created by CoDesigner.

Support for Synchronization of Body-less Components

CoDesigner now supports synchronizing the movement of body-less components that have multiple holes, for example, a mounting hole component created from one large pad surrounded by smaller pads, from MCAD to ECAD. The movement distance and direction are defined according to the movement of the largest hole.

MCAD panel Renamed in Altium NEXUS

The Collaboration panel in Altium NEXUS has been renamed to the MCAD CoDesigner panel. Its capabilities are the same as the capabilities of the MCAD CoDesigner panel in Altium Designer.

Versions Supported by CoDesigner 2.6.0

Altium NEXUS Client 4.3.1 (or higher) with MCAD CoDesigner extension version 2.6.0.412

This update has been tested on the following MCAD platforms and Add-in versions:

MCAD Version MCAD Add-In Version
Autodesk Inventor Professional® - versions 2019, 2020, 2021 2.6.0.8
Autodesk Fusion® 2.6.0.9
Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS® - versions 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 2.6.0.9
PTC Creo Parametric® - 4.X , 5.X, 6.X, 7.X, 8.X 2.6.0.9

Release Notes for CoDesigner 2.6.0

MCAD-962 There were problems with the support for non-English encoding on PCB project names, PCB variant names and on the preview of comments in ECAD. Fixed.
MCAD-1732 The copper barrel on a pad was not removed in MCAD after unchecking "Plated" property for that pad in ECAD. Fixed.
MCAD-1734 CoDesigner was not be able to send a cutout created on multiple contours from Autodesk Fusion 360. Fixed.
MCAD-2045 CoDesigner did not assign the correct names for Keepout and Text Note Room features after the roundtrip from Autodesk Fusion 360 to ECAD and back. Fixed.
MCAD-2145 CoDesigner now allows the engineer to enter a comment when a change is rejected when pulling changes on both sides - MCAD and ECAD. Also, the full history of accepted and rejected changes (and reject comments) is now saved on the server and can be shown in CoDesigner's panel. This makes the interaction between the electrical and mechanical engineers more transparent. Note: The feature is not available under the "Standard" subscription plan on Altium 365.
MCAD-2294 CoDesigner now supports synchronizing the movement of body-less components with multiple holes (eg one large hole surrounded by smaller holes) from MCAD to ECAD. The movement distance and direction are defined according to the movement of the largest hole.
MCAD-2339 CoDesigner now shows the proper warning message on pull in MCAD for holes placed in ECAD outside of the board outline.
MCAD-2347 The behavior with components that are placed in MCAD and then recognized in ECAD has been improved. If such a component includes a cutout in the footprint definition, CoDesigner now recognizes it and does not suggest removing that cutout on the next pull in ECAD.
MCAD-2374 The Collaboration panel in Altium NEXUS has been renamed to the MCAD CoDesigner panel. Its capabilities are the same as the capabilities of the MCAD CoDesigner panel in Altium Designer.
MCAD-2414 Incorrect changes were suggested for slotted holes on the second pull in Autodesk Inventor, Autodesk Fusion 360, SOLIDWORKS. Fixed.
MCAD-2425 CoDesigner now provides 4 options for the naming of component models transferred from ECAD to a) The name starts with the Footprint Name and then the Component ID is added (this is the default option, and how it worked before), b) The name starts with the Component ID and then the Footprint Name is added, c) The name starts with the Footprint Name and then a Custom Component Property is added, d) The name starts with a Custom Component Property and then the Footprint Name is added. The purpose of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th options is to simplify the interaction with the components in MCAD when some meaningful info like part numbers is put into the Component ID or into a Custom Component Property in the ECAD component library. Note 1: The option can be changed in your Workspace by an Administrator in the Admin > Settings > MCAD CoDesigner section when you are logged into your Workspace in a browser. Note 2: Changing the option will not change the set of component models that have already been created by CoDesigner.
MCAD-2438 CoDesigner was unable to push a rigid-flex PCB from ECAD if there were two or more layers with the same name defined in the different layer stacks. Fixed.
MCAD-2459 CoDesigner required the re-placement of alternate parts on the PCB in ECAD after a PCB Variant was renamed. Improved (re-placement is not required anymore).
MCAD-2469 CoDesigner now shows the proper warning message in MCAD when an enclosure reference is broken because the user has switched from the context of the Device to the context of the PCB.
MCAD-2470 In PTC Creo, the start_model_dir and search_path parameters are now taken into consideration when CoDesigner searches for custom templates.
MCAD-2503 The name of the PCB project was not added to the name of inter-layer copper assemblies and parts in MCAD (which created some issues when a PDM system is used with the MCAD software). Fixed.
MCAD-2598 CoDesigner wrongly showed that the board thickness had changed in the change table on pull in MCAD if: the "Build 3D Copper" option was activated; and, if there was a pad added to the board in ECAD; and, if there were no components placed on that board. Fixed.
MCAD-2621 There were some problems with building the internal layers of copper in MCAD with the "Build 3D Copper" option turned ON in v.2.5. Fixed.
MCAD-2628 CoDesigner now sets its own value of "default_dec_places" parameter for the assemblies and parts included into a PCB assembly in PTC Creo if "Build 3D Copper" option in CoDesigner's settings is ON. Note: previously, if the custom value of "default_dec_places" parameter was too low, CoDesigner was not be able to build some precise elements of copper.
MCAD-2666 The name of the PCB project was not added to the name of the decals in SOLIDWORKS (which created issues when a PDM system is used or when a user works with two or more PCBs simultaneously). Fixed.
MCAD-2679 On push from ECAD, CoDesigner did not allow to push PCBs with the microsegments and self-intersections that were not detected by the corresponding PCB validation check but affected the integrity of the contours, CoDesigner showed an abstract error in those cases. Fixed (now CoDesigner allows to push such boards).

New in CoDesigner 2.5.0

Released: 13 July 2021 – Version 2.5.0

Feature Highlights

Accurate Representation of the Solder Mask

CoDesigner now builds a precise model of the solder mask, including the openings for the pads, as a separate entity in MCAD when the Build 3D Copper option is enabled. Because the mask fills the etched regions between the copper, the thickness of the mask layer in MCAD is the sum of the thicknesses of the top copper layer plus the soldermask layer, as defined in ECAD.

Improved Display of Decals in SOLIDWORKS

CoDesigner now combines all of the decals into one top decal and one bottom decal in SOLIDWORKS, in order to prevent issues with rendering half-transparent solder mask decals which can happen with some graphics hardware.

The Top decal is a combination of the top copper layer, the top solder mask layer, and the top silkscreen layer.

Notes:

  • The silkscreen decal is not generated when the Build 3D Copper mode is enabled.
  • The feature is not available under the Standard subscription plan on Altium 365, since the Build 3D Copper option is not available with this plan.

Versions Supported by CoDesigner 2.5.0

Altium NEXUS Client 4.3.1 (and later) with Collaboration panel extension version 2.5.0.362

This update has been tested on the following MCAD platforms and Add-in versions:

MCAD Version MCAD Add-In Version
Autodesk Inventor Professional® - versions 2020, 2021, 2022 2.5.0.11
Autodesk Fusion 360® 2.5.0.11
Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS® - versions 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 2.5.0.11
PTC Creo Parametric® - 4.X , 5.X, 6.X, 7.X, 8.X 2.5.0.11

Release Notes for CoDesigner 2.5.0

MCAD-2010 CoDesigner now warns the ECAD user if different revisions of the same component are placed on the PCB, as this may cause problems with handling the placement of models in MCAD.
MCAD-2115 CoDesigner now builds a precise model of the solder mask (incl the cutouts for pads) as a separate entity in MCAD if the "Build 3D Copper" option is ON. This helps perform more precise analyses of the PCB. Note 1: The decals (silkscreen in particular) are not shown in this mode. Note 2: The feature is not available under the "Standard" subscription on Altium 365, since the "Build 3D Copper" option is not available under this plan.
MCAD-2118 CoDesigner now works with the custom templates in PTC Creo.
MCAD-2160 CoDesigner truncated the name of the "-EDM" subfolder to 10 characters (located in the project folder on the ECAD side) which made navigation difficult. Fixed (the name is not truncated unless the full path is less than 128 symbols).
MCAD-2248 CoDesigner is no longer sending parts that have no physical geometry inside of them (eg parts with construction geometry which are used as skeleton models) from MCAD to ECAD. Note: previously, such parts caused non-blocking errors on pull into ECAD.
MCAD-2268 The changes to a hole created by the Hole Wizard in SOLIDWORKS were applied only on the second pull in MCAD if the hole size was decreased in ECAD. Fixed.
MCAD-2284 Altium's session (and Altium's license for on-prem installations) was not released on closing MCAD if "Sign In automatically" option was turned ON in MCAD. Fixed.
MCAD-2288 CoDesigner previously replaced dashes with underscore symbols in the project name when created a PCB assembly in MCAD (this was done to satisfy PTC's rule that a model name cannot start with the "-" symbol). Fixed, the "-" symbols are no longer replaced, except for the very first one.
MCAD-2297 Altium CoDesigner toolbar was shown automatically on creation of a new part or assembly in SOLIDWORKS. Fixed.
MCAD-2299 An empty "Interlayer" assembly was created in SOLIDWORKS if "Build 3D Copper" option is ON but there were no interlayer copper entities in a PCB. Fixed.
MCAD-2311 Changes made to the component properties in ECAD were not transferred to MCAD if the 3D model of component was not changed. Fixed.
MCAD-2328 Ellipses in the board outline were transferred incorrectly from Autodesk Fusion 360 to ECAD. Fixed.
MCAD-2332 Changing board shape to an Ellipse in Autodesk Fusion 360 changed the shape of the PCB Rooms to ellipses as well. Fixed
MCAD-2333 Re-definition of the board shape to a Circle or Ellipse in PTC Creo was not recognized in ECAD. Fixed.
MCAD-2336 CoDesigner changed "Update component names when documents are replaced" option in SOLIDWORKS (it was necessary in the past when CoDesigner represented Ref Designators in the model tree). Fixed (no changes now).
MCAD-2342 CoDesigner now combines the decals into one "top" decal and one "bottom" decal in SOLIDWORKS in order to prevent issues with rendering half-transparent solder mask decals, which can happen with some graphics hardware.
MCAD-2354 It's now possible to disable the check for MCAD plugin update if there is no internet connection. Note 1: By default, CoDesigner warns user in that case, so now it's possible to disable that warning. Note 2: It's possible to turn that option back ON in CoDesigner plugin settings.
MCAD-2377 CoDesigner no longer overwrites the "default_dec_places" parameter for regular (non-flex) boards in PTC Creo. Note: CoDesigner did set the value of that parameter higher than necessary for a regular design, in order to build the geometry of rigid-flex boards properly.
MCAD-2390 The Beta status for CoDesigner plugin for Autodesk Fusion 360 has been removed.
MCAD-2395 CoDesigner plugin for PTC Creo was not able to download components from the server if the "AltiumCoDesignerPtcCreo downloads" folder was deleted by the user. Fixed.

New in CoDesigner 2.4.0

Released: 12 May 2021 – Version 2.4.0

Feature Highlights

Improved Support for the Latest MCAD Tools

This release sees the introduction of support for the following MCAD tool versions:

  • Autodesk Inventor 2022
  • PTC Creo 8

Note that with this update, Autodesk Inventor 2019 is no longer officially supported. You will be able to continue to use CoDesigner with Autodesk Inventor 2019, but future CoDesigner updates will no longer be tested on Autodesk Inventor 2019.

Automatically Resolve Micro-Segments in the Board Contour

A variety of techniques are used by the engineering team to define the board shape. Depending on the approach used, there are situations when the board outline can end up with micro-segments in the outline. These micro-segments cannot be transferred by CoDesigner and a warning about this will be displayed when you attempt to Push from ECAD. The consequence of this is that the ECAD engineer must remove the micro-segments before the board can be pushed to MCAD.

This release sees the addition of a new automatic micro-segment removal feature. When they are detected the following dialog will display, click Yes to remove them and allow the board outline to be transferred to MCAD. If you click No the micro-segments will remain and must be resolved manually.

Note that this feature utilizes a new API, so is only available with Altium NEXUS 4.3.x or newer.

New MCAD-Coordinates Grid

CoDesigner now creates an MCAD Coordinates grid on Pull into ECAD, including an MCAD Origin entity, when the MCAD origin differs from the default (absolute) ECAD origin. This helps the electrical engineer communicate with the mechanical engineer on the positioning of the different board entities.

The representation of the MCAD Coordinates grid can be customized in ECAD, double-click on the entry in the Properties panel to open the Grid Editor dialog. Learn more about the PCB Grids System.

The representation of the ECAD origin in MCAD is planned to be implemented soon.

Support for a Custom Coordinate System in PTC Creo

CoDesigner in PTC Creo now supports using a custom coordinate system for models placed by the engineer in Creo. Enable this feature in Creo's Altium CoDesigner Settings dialog. Note that on the ECAD side, the models used in the footprints of the corresponding components should be built on the same coordinate system.

Note that on the ECAD side, the models used in the footprints of the corresponding components should be built on the same coordinate system (origin and orientation). If you are exporting the model from Creo to use in ECAD, enable the Customize Export option during export and select the correct Coordinate system. ( show image )

Support for SOLIDWORKS PDM

The placement of native MCAD components from a data management system is now supported when SOLIDWORKS is connected to a SOLIDWORKS PDM system.

Note that the MCAD component must be defined in the ECAD component as a parameter, in the form <vault>:folder\folder\component.sldprt, where <vault> is the name of the PDM vault.

Common Recommendations:

  1. It is recommended to set up a common component folder in the Altium CoDesigner Settings dialog, to put that folder under SW PDM control, and to synchronize that folder with the local storage before collaborating with ECAD. Learn more about Configuring CoDesigner in SOLIDWORKS.
  2. It is recommended to synchronize the component libraries with the local PDM storage before pulling the PCB into MCAD.
  3. It's recommended to disable the Prompt to check out file if opened in read-only mode option in the SOLIDWORKS PDM settings (accessible from the Tools menu in SOLIDWORKS) as shown below. This means existing components will not need to be checked out, which means there will be no inconvenience to the work of other mechanical engineers. However, in the situation where it is necessary to change component properties, the corresponding components should be checked out.
  4. After the changes are applied, it's recommended to check the new components into SOLIDWORKS PDM.

Support for Fusion 360 to Ignore Small Components

To improve performance in Fusion 360 on boards with a large number of components, CoDesigner now supports excluding components below a user-defined height during a Pull from ECAD. For the height threshold, CoDesigner uses the height defined as part of the component properties in ECAD ( show image ).

Define the threshold height in the Altium CoDesigner Settings dialog, as shown in the image below. The dialog is accessed via the Altium CoDesigner panel in Fusion 360, select Settings in the panel's menu to open the dialog.

Small components can be excluded during Pull by setting the Height threshold (hover the cursor over to see the board in ECAD).

Improved Support for Previewing Changes

The ability to preview the impact of each change before applying it gives the mechanical engineer greater confidence in accepting the latest changes from ECAD. This release sees the addition of previews in MCAD for:

  • Autodesk Inventor
  • Autodesk Fusion 360
  • PTC Creo

Versions Supported by CoDesigner 2.4.0

Altium NEXUS Client 4.3 with Collaboration panel extension version 2.4.0.336

This update has been tested on the following MCAD platforms and Add-in versions:

MCAD Version MCAD Add-In Version
Autodesk Inventor Professional® - versions 2020, 2021, 2022 2.4.0.7
Autodesk Fusion® 2.4.0.8
Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS® - versions 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 2.4.0.17
PTC Creo Parametric® - 4.X , 5.X, 6.X, 7.X, 8.X 2.4.0.13

Release Notes for CoDesigner 2.4.0

MCAD-869 Preview of changes is shown in PTC Creo now.
MCAD-870 Preview of changes is shown in Autodesk Inventor now.
MCAD-1027 In PTC Creo, CoDesigner now supports using a custom coordinate system for MCAD models placed by the engineer in Creo (there is an option to enable this in the plugin's settings). Note that on the ECAD side, the models used in the footprints of the corresponding components should be built on the same coordinate system.
MCAD-1529 CoDesigner now warns SOLIDWORKS users if it detects a circular extruded cut, warning that it will be transferred as a Cutout, not a Hole. It also explains that a SW Extruded Cut -> ECAD Cutout, and a SW Hole -> ECAD Pad (circular).
MCAD-1726 Components which are placed on the internal layers in ECAD are now placed precisely in MCAD, considering the offset and orientation defined in ECAD (previously, those components were adjusted to the top/bottom planes in MCAD).
MCAD-1753 Changes made to the order of copper layers in ECAD were not applied in MCAD. Fixed.
MCAD-1917 Incorrect height was set up for board areas in Fusion 360 in some cases. Fixed.
MCAD-2044 Placement of native MCAD components from a data management system is now supported for SOLIDWORKS connected to SOLIDWORKS PDM. Note 1: The MCAD component must be defined in the ECAD component as a parameter, in the form "<vault>:folder\folder\component.sldprt" , where <vault> is the name of the PDM vault. Note 2: The component libraries should be synchronized with the local PDM storage before pulling the PCB into ECAD.
MCAD-2051 CoDesigner now creates an "MCAD Coordinates" grid (including an "MCAD Origin" entity) on pull in ECAD, when the MCAD origin differs from the default (absolute) ECAD origin. This helps the electrical engineer to communicate with the mechanical engineer on the positioning of the different board entities. Note 1: The representation of the "MCAD Coordinates" grid can be customized. Note 2: The representation of ECAD origin in MCAD is planned to be implemented soon as well.
MCAD-2067 For Autodesk Fusion 360, CoDesigner now provides an option to ignore small components on pull (the size limit is customizable). This improves the performance on boards with more than 500 components placed.
MCAD-2082 PTC Creo 8 is officially supported now.
MCAD-2107 CoDesigner now creates a sheetmetal template in PTC Creo automatically if that template is not found in Windchill.
MCAD-2119 Preview of changes is shown in Autodesk Fusion 360 now.
MCAD-2127 Added a feature to offer to automatically fix problems with micro-segments in the board contour (on user's confirmation). Note that this feature utilizes a new API, so is only available with Altium NEXUS 21.3.X / Altium NEXUS 4.3.X or newer.
MCAD-2133 Intermediate layers which were turned OFF in the ECAD rigid-flex layer stack were incorrectly included in the board thickness in MCAD. Fixed.
MCAD-2156 The max length of component name in PTC Creo has been increased from 24 to 31 symbols. Note: previously, the remaining symbols were reserved for the comp revision, now the symbols for the revision are substracted from the overall length of the comp name.
MCAD-2170 CoDesigner was not able to identify the board areas (keepouts, rooms) when two areas with the same geometry were created on the top and bottom faces of the board ("Object reference not set to an instance of an object" was shown). Fixed.
MCAD-2183 Autodesk Inventor 2022 is officially supported now. Note: Autodesk Inventor 2019 is not supported anymore.
MCAD-2211 CoDesigner now supports choosing the type of accuracy (Absolute or Relative) for PCBs built in PTC Creo.
MCAD-2215 The button for opening CoDesigner's panel is now added directly to the toolbar in Autodesk Fusion 360, simplifying opening the panel.
MCAD-2242 CoDesigner blocked pushing a PCB from MCAD if there was a part with zero geometry added into the PCB assembly. Fixed.
MCAD-2298 If the "Ignore small components" option is ON in Autodesk Fusion 360, CoDesigner sometimes failed to push the PCB back to ECAD, giving an internal "Index is out of bounds" error. Fixed.
MCAD-2303 CoDesigner deleted the custom MCAD component properties (the properties assigned by the user or by PDM system to the models that were transferred from ECAD previously) on pull in SOLIDWORKS. Fixed.

New in CoDesigner 2.3.0

Released: 22 March 2021 – Version 2.3.0

Feature Highlights

Support for Autodesk Fusion 360® (Open Beta Release)

This release sees the introduction of support for Autodesk Fusion 360 (currently in Open Beta).

Use these tips to get started with Fusion 360:

  • Download the Add-In from the Downloads page.
  • Install the CoDesigner Add-In in Fusion 360 (AltiumCoDesignerFusion360_<VersionNumber>.exe) - close Fusion 360 before installing the Add-In.
  • You work between Fusion 360 and Altium NEXUS through the Altium CoDesigner panel. Use the image below to help you enable the panel in Fusion 360.

  • Board designs are Pushed and Pulled to and from ECAD through an Altium 365 Workspace. If you don't already have a Workspace, visit altium.com/altium-365 to activate your Workspace on Altium 365.
  • In Fusion 360, sign in to your Workspace in the Altium CoDesigner panel using your Altium Live credentials.
  • Once that is done, you're ready to start CoDesigning. Check out the Direct ECAD-MCAD CoDesign page to learn more about the process.

Notes:

  • The initial support for Autodesk Fusion 360 only includes the feature-set available in a standard subscription plan, regardless of your current subscription level.
  • The representation of copper and silkscreen is different from what is implemented for other MCADs; in Fusion 360 they are represented by sketch-only based components within the bare board part. These components are hidden by default, you can make them visible and build 3D features such as an extrude or an extruded surface, if required.
  • With this Beta version, users may experience performance issues with the initial pulling of a PCB into Fusion 360 with more than 500 components.

These issues will be addressed in an upcoming version.

Rigid-Flex Support for PTC Creo

This release introduces support for transferring rigid-flex board designs between ECAD and PTC Creo.

Rigid-flex board designs can be transferred back and forth between Creo and ECAD.

The Mechanical Engineer, after getting a rigid-flex board from ECAD, can:

  1. Preview the ECAD changes in MCAD.
  2. Make changes to the geometry of the rigid and flex segments of the board. For example, adjust the board’s shape to suit the geometry of the product enclosure, create cutouts or mounting holes, or change the radius of a bend.
  3. Make changes to the placement of existing components, and place new components on the board.
  4. Transfer copper and silkscreen detail.
  5. Push those changes to ECAD and pull new changes from ECAD.

Capabilities not yet Supported

  1. Create a rigid-flex board from scratch in MCAD.
  2. Create new rigid and flex board regions in MCAD.
  3. Create new bends in MCAD.
  4. Transfer boards that include flex regions that have different thicknesses (multiple flex regions are supported).
  5. Transfer components mounted on a flex region from ECAD to MCAD.
  6. Place components on a flex region in MCAD.
  7. New features introduced as part of the Rigid-flex 2.0 update in Altium NEXUS.

Learn more about the process of Synchronizing a Rigid-Flex Board (Note that while this page refers to SOLIDWORKS, the overall process is the same in Creo. The page will be updated for Creo soon.)

Improved Select Project Dialog

The Select Project dialog that you opens when you click the Pull Board button in the Altium CoDesigner panel has been improved.

The Select Project dialog now details:

  • ECAD-MCAD exchange information: Last pushed from ECAD details, including the Push comment.
  • A table with Variants (if they exist). The first variant is selected by default.

Improved Support for PCB Variants

In previous versions of CoDesigner, if the ECAD design included PCB variants, only one variant could be pushed at a time from ECAD. With this update, all variants are pushed from ECAD, and the required variant can then be chosen in the new Select Project dialog when the board is Pulled into MCAD.

Display of CoDesigner Version Number

In previous versions of CoDesigner, you had to open the Windows Control Panel and check the version number of CoDesigner in Programs and Features. With this release, the version number is now displayed at the bottom of the Altium CoDesigner panel.

Improved Decal Storage in SOLIDWORKS

To better support designers who use SOLIDWORKS with a PDM system, CoDesigner now saves the decals (image files that represent the copper, silkscreen and soldermask layers) directly into the board part file. This simplifies the management of the PCB-related files when a PDM system is used on the MCAD side.

Decals are now stored in the SOLIDWORKS prt file, simplifying the process of working with SOLIDWORKS and a PDM system.

If you use SOLIDWORKS with a PDM and find that the Image file path continues to reference a location on the hard drive, close the design and remove the image files from that location. SOLIDWORKS will then use the decals stored within the board part, the next time the design is opened.

Versions Supported by CoDesigner 2.3.0

Altium NEXUS Client 4.x with Collaboration panel extension version 2.3.0.324

Altium NEXUS Client 3.2 with Collaboration panel extension version 2.3.0.324

This update has been tested on the following MCAD platforms and Add-in versions:

MCAD Version MCAD Add-In Version
Autodesk Inventor Professional® - versions 2019, 2020, 2021 2.3.0.8
Autodesk Fusion® 2.3.0.8
Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS® - versions 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 2.3.0.9
PTC Creo Parametric® - 4.X , 5.X, 6.X, 7.X 2.3.0.22

Release Notes for CoDesigner 2.3.0

MCAD-916

CoDesigner now saves the decals (pictures that are representing copper, silkscreen and soldermask) directly into the board part file in SOLIDWORKS. It simplifies the management of the PCB-related files when a PDM system is used on MCAD side.

MCAD-1505

Coordinate systems used for component assemblies on the rigid-flex boards were created incorrectly in some cases in SOLIDWORKS 2018, 2019. Fixed.

MCAD-1710

CoDesigner is now sending all the PCB variants (if defined) from ECAD, instead of just the active variant. On the MCAD side, the required variant should be chosen in the new "Pull board" dialog.

MCAD-1844

The dialog used for choosing a PCB to Pull into MCAD has been changed. It now shows: a preview of the PCB (if the corresponding PCB project was saved to the server from ECAD); information about the latest push from ECAD (if pushed); and PCB variants (if they exist).

MCAD-1847

Board part was not created when starting a new project in MCAD, if the "build vias" option is ON. Fixed.

MCAD-1860

CoDesigner was not able to find a Parasolid translation add-in in Autodesk Inventor (and to build the comp models accordingly) if some of third-party add-ins were not responding correctly on request of their type. Fixed.

MCAD-1876

Rigid-flex board transfer: The minimal allowed distance between a split line and a bending area is decreased from 2.5 mil to 0.5 mil.

MCAD-1937

Autodesk Fusion 360 MCAD is now supported by CoDesigner (the solution is initially in Open Beta). The plugin for Autodesk Fusion 360 can be downloaded from https://www.altium.com/products/downloads#mcad-plugins. Note 1: "PRO Subscription" capabilities (MCAD component placement, rigid-flex board support, extruded copper, enclosure exchange) are not supported for now. Note 2: The representation of copper and silkscreen is different from what is implemented for other MCADs; they are represented by Sketch-only based components within the bare board part (these components are hidden by default, user can make them visible and build 3D features like an extrude or an extruded surface additionally, according to their needs). Note 3: With this Beta version, users may experience some performance issues with the initial pulling of PCBs with more than 500 components on MCAD side. These issues are going to be addressed in the next version.

MCAD-1945

Rigid-flex board sync is now supported for PTC Creo (the solution is initially in Beta mode). The capabilities that are not supported for now: 1. Adding new regions and new bends on MCAD side, 2. New features introduced in "Rigid-flex 2.0" functionality in Altium NEXUS.

MCAD-1946

CoDesigner is not overwriting the Absolute Accuracy property in PTC Creo now.

MCAD-2006

The decals (pictures representing copper, silkscreen and soldermask) were not scaled correctly in PTC Creo for some rounded or circular boards. Fixed.

MCAD-2035

The version of CoDesigner is now shown directly in the Altium CoDesigner panel in MCAD (in the bottom right corner).

MCAD-2050

The default height of the board areas (keepouts, rooms) built in MCAD has been decreased from 1mm to 0.5mm in order to not obscure the view and make it difficult to select small components.

MCAD-2073

Project Name was incorrectly replaced with the Project ID in the "Choose PCB to pull" dialog on the MCAD side, due to changes made in the Altium Server. Fixed.

MCAD-2077

CoDesigner now detects duplications in the naming of layers in the layer stack in ECAD and shows the corresponding error message.

MCAD-2175 MCAD plugins were not able to connect to Altium 365 in some cases. Fixed.

New in CoDesigner 2.2.0

Feature Highlights

Push the Enclosure from MCAD to ECAD

This update sees the addition of support for working at the device assembly level in MCAD and the ability to transfer the enclosure with the board to ECAD. The video below demonstrates the process of including the board assembly in the device enclosure, and transferring the enclosure to Altium NEXUS.

Note that this option is not available on a standard subscription plan. Designers on a standard subscription plan can watch this video to see another approach to transferring the enclosure.

This video demonstrate CoDesigner features using Altium Designer. The process of CoDesigning between Altium NEXUS and your MCAD software is the same, the only difference is that in Altium NEXUS you use the Collaboration panel, not the MCAD CoDesigner panel.

CoDesigner Ribbon added to Creo

The Altium CoDesigner ribbon has been added to PTC Creo (the ribbon is already available in SOLIDWORKS and Autodesk Inventor). The ribbon provides an easy way of accessing the common PCB-specific design objects needed during the MCAD-ECAD CoDesign process. Use the ribbon buttons to ensure that the correct MCAD object-type is used to create a compatible ECAD object.

New MCAD Planes for Component Placement

CoDesigner now creates top and bottom side component planes in MCAD, which simplifies the process of placing components in MCAD. Components are now placed to ignore the thickness of the soldermask layer.

Support for Via and Pad Copper Barrels

  • Pad Barrels - thruhole Pad barrels are now transferred from ECAD to MCAD when the Build 3D geometry for Copper is enabled in the Altium CoDesigner Settings dialog.
  • Via Barrels - enable the Build Vias option as well to include the Via barrels.

Via and Pad copper barrels are always Pushed from ECAD (left image), use the CoDesigner options described above in MCAD to control if they are Pulled into MCAD (right image).

Simplified CoDesigner Panel

The CoDesigner menu has been updated to include the Help and Settings options that were previously located on the face of the Altium CoDesigner panel.

Improved Support for Keepouts and Rooms

CoDesigner now detects the locked status of Keepouts and Rooms in ECAD, ensuring that these are not moved during a Pull from MCAD.

Versions Supported by CoDesigner 2.2.0

Altium NEXUS Client 4.0 with the Collaboration panel extension version 2.2.0.310

Altium NEXUS Client 3.2 with the Collaboration panel extension version 2.2.0.310

This update has been tested on the following MCAD platforms and Add-in versions:

MCAD Version MCAD Add-In Version
Autodesk Inventor Professional® - versions 2019, 2020, 2021 2.2.0.6
Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS® - versions 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 2.2.0.7
PTC Creo Parametric® - 4.X , 5.X, 6.X, 7.X 2.2.0.6

Release Notes for CoDesigner 2.2.0

MCAD-400 CoDesigner now supports working with a PCB in the context of a Device in MCAD, without switching to the PCB assembly. This makes working between the PCB definition and the enclosure much easier. If there are several PCBs in one device, CoDesigner supports switching between them.
MCAD-786 CoDesigner now builds the copper barrel for plated thruhole pads in MCAD (if the "3D Copper" option is enabled in the settings. This option is required for thermal simulation).
MCAD-796 CoDesigner now builds the copper barrel for Vias in MCAD (the precise 3D geometry of the Via copper and hole through the board). Note: the transfer of changes made to the Vias from MCAD to ECAD is not supported.
MCAD-987 The search for projects in "Choose a PCB project" dialog on MCAD side is now case insensitive.
MCAD-1531 CoDesigner icons now support 4K monitors.
MCAD-1586 CoDesigner is now validating micro-arcs on push from ECAD (along with the micro-segment validation implemented previously).
MCAD-1607 The solution for PTC Creo now includes CoDesigner's toolbar with the commands related to PCB definition.
MCAD-1609 CoDesigner now supports sending the parts of the PCB enclosure from MCAD to ECAD (see MCAD-400 also). User can choose those parts by clicking the new "Enclosure" button on CoDesigner's ribbon toolbar in MCAD.
MCAD-1652 The "Refresh" button has been added to the CoDesigner panel in MCAD. When the button is clicked CoDesigner will detect any board assemblies present in the currently open device assembly. See MCAD-400 also.
MCAD-1679 Internal Plane layers were not transferred from ECAD to MCAD and were not included with the 3D Copper option. Fixed.
MCAD-1689 The performance of updating of the board area properties in MCAD is improved.
MCAD-1693 CoDesigner is now placing the components in MCAD so that they ignore the thickness of the solder mask layer. For the components on PCBs that were pulled in MCAD previously, CoDesigner will show "Stand off height adjustment" change on the first update. Additionally, CoDesigner is now creating two additional planes in MCAD for top and bottom component placement accordingly. The purpose of those planes is to help mechanical engineers with the precise placement of new components, and with making changes to the placement of existing components.
MCAD-1694 The components on rigid-flex boards were placed with the wrong offset in some cases. Fixed.
MCAD-1697 CoDesigner now considers the change of component's standoff height in MCAD (according to the value set up in ECAD) as a separate change type (was covered by "Placement change" previously).
MCAD-1703 The movement and the deletion of locked Keepouts and Rooms are now blocked on Pull into ECAD. This will help electrical engineers prevent accidental changes being made to the "electrical" board areas on the MCAD side.
MCAD-1731 The functionality of CoDesigner available for Altium 365 users is now split into "PRO" and "STD" sets of features, according to the types of Altium 365 account. The following advanced features will be available for PRO users only:
a) MCAD-driven component placement,
b) Rigid-flex board support,
c) Building 3D Copper and Vias in MCAD,
d) Enclosure exchange from the context of device assembly.
MCAD-1824 CoDesigner no longer warns SOLIDWORKS users that a Table built into a SOLIDWORKS document is not supported.

New in CoDesigner 2.1.0

Feature Highlights

Support for the Latest MCAD Versions

This release adds support for the following versions of MCAD software:

  • Autodesk Inventor Professional® 2021
  • Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS® (Standard, Pro & Premium) 2021

Updated MCAD CoDesigner Panel

The MCAD Altium CoDesigner panel now has two tabs, labeled Activity, and PCB Definition.

  • Activity - displays the history of Push and Pull operations and the associated comments, as displayed in earlier versions of CoDesigner.
  • PCB Definition - displays Board Area definitions that exist on the board. Currently supported area definitions include Keepouts and Rooms, which can be created on both the MCAD and ECAD sides.
    • Click on a definition to configure Keepout settings, or to add a comment to a Room.
    • If the definition has been renamed in the MCAD feature tree, the change will not be immediately reflected in the PCB Definitions tab of the Altium CoDesigner panel. Switch to the Activity tab then back to the PCB Definitions tab to refresh the definitions.

The MCAD Altium CoDesigner panel now has a PCB Definition tab, use this to configure Rooms and Keepouts that have been added to the board.

New Altium CoDesigner Ribbon

A new Altium CoDesigner Ribbon has been added to SOLIDWORKS and Autodesk Inventor (solution for Creo is coming soon). The tab provides an easy way of accessing the common PCB-specific design objects needed during the MCAD-ECAD CoDesign process. Using these buttons ensures that the correct MCAD object-type is used to create a compatible ECAD object.

Support for Keepouts

A PCB Keepout is a region or area of the board that has been configured to restrict the placement of specific ECAD objects. Keepouts can be defined for either side of the board, or to apply to all PCB layers. The objects that are to be kept out of this area are selected as Keepout Restriction properties.

Defining a Keepout in MCAD:

  • Click the Keep Out Area button on the Altium CoDesigner ribbon.
  • You will be prompted to choose a face, surface or plane, click on the side of board that requires the keepout. If the keepout is to apply to all layers it can be drawn on either side.
  • Click on a suitable MCAD sketch tool, for example Rectangle, to define the keepout. Note that the sketch must only include one contour, internal contours are not supported.
  • Draw the shape required for the keepout.
  • Exit the Sketch mode.
  • The properties of the feature can now be edited. You can think of the keepout as a fence around the keepout area, edit the Depth to a small value, for example 1mm.
  • This keepout will become an Altium NEXUS layer-specific keepout, on the layer it has been drawn in MCAD. To define an all-layer keepout, in MCAD configure the keepout to extrude in both directions, setting the Depth in the second direction to a value that is large enough to extrude it through the board.
  • Click the MCAD Accept button  to finish the feature definition process. If required, the feature can be renamed in the Feature tree.
  • In the Altium CoDesigner panel, select the PCB Definition tab and configure the keepout restrictions as required. The keepout can now be pushed to Altium NEXUS, where it will be added as a Keepout Region. Depending on how it was configured in MCAD, it will become a Top Layer Keepout, a Bottom Layer Keepout, or a Keepout Layer Keepout. If required the keepout shape can be adjusted in Altium NEXUS, and pushed back to MCAD.

Support for Rooms

A PCB Room is a design rule that is used to define an area that specific components must be placed in, or excluded from. A common use for this rule is to define a component height restriction in the board area covered by the Room. Typically the Room rule will be applied to an individual component, or a class of components.

Defining a Room in MCAD:

  • Click the Text Note Room button on the Altium CoDesigner ribbon.
  • You will be prompted to choose a face, surface or plane, click on the side of board that requires the room.
  • Click on a suitable MCAD sketch tool, for example Rectangle, to define the room. Note that the sketch must only include one contour, internal contours are not supported.
  • Draw the shape required for the room.
  • Exit the Sketch mode.
  • Click the MCAD Accept button  to finish the feature definition process. If required, the feature can be renamed in the Feature tree.
  • In the Altium CoDesigner panel, select the PCB Definition tab and enter a comment for the room that explains its purpose to the ECAD engineer. The room can now be pushed to Altium NEXUS, where it will be added as a Placement Room design rule, on the layer it has been drawn in MCAD. The only property that can be transferred between MCAD and ECAD is the Comment, which becomes the Placement Room design rule comment.
  • The Placement Room design room can now be configured as required in Altium NEXUS.

Keepout areas and Rooms can now be defined in MCAD and pushed to ECAD.

This video demonstrate CoDesigner features using Altium Designer. The process of CoDesigning between Altium NEXUS and your MCAD software is the same, the only difference is that in Altium NEXUS you use the Collaboration panel, not the MCAD CoDesigner panel.

Notes about transferring Board Areas:

  • Fill and Solid Region ECAD Keepout Regions are supported.
  • Because the ECAD Keepout objects do not include a unique identifier or an object name, ECAD to MCAD Keepout changes are made by removing the existing object and adding a new object (with a new MCAD name).
  • Changes made to ECAD Rooms are also marked as removed and added during an ECAD to MCAD change, but the Name and Comment are retained.

Important Note about Versions: If there is potential that the ECAD extension has been updated but the MCAD plugin has not, be careful when you are applying MCAD to ECAD changes. If you have Keepouts and Rooms defined on the PCB in ECAD, CoDesigner will suggest to delete them. The solution is simply to reject those changes in ECAD, so that the Keepouts and Rooms are retained.

Improved Support for the Transfer of Layer Colors

The color of the Core layer defined in ECAD is now transferred and applied to the board part in MCAD. The color and transparency of the Solder Mask layers defined in ECAD is now transferred to MCAD and applied to the corresponding decals in MCAD.

Solder Mask and Core colors are transferred between ECAD and MCAD.

Renaming the Board in ECAD

Changes made to the name of the board in Altium NEXUS are now supported. A board that has already been pushed to MCAD can now be renamed, and pushed again to MCAD.

Versions Supported by CoDesigner 2.1.0

Altium NEXUS Client 3.2 with the Collaboration panel extension version 2.1.0.302

This update has been tested on the following MCAD platforms and Add-in versions:

MCAD Version MCAD Add-In Version
Autodesk Inventor Professional® - versions 2019, 2020, 2021 2.1.0.6
Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS® - versions 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 2.1.0.7
PTC Creo Parametric® - 4.X , 5.X, 6.X, 7.X 2.1.0.10

Release Notes for CoDesigner 2.1.0

MCAD-659

"View Changes" and "Discard" buttons are shown in the change notifications in the Collaboration Panel in Altium NEXUS now.

MCAD-738

CoDesigner now logs most of its internal tech events for further potential investigations of tech issues. The logs are saved locally into \Users\{user}\AppData\Local\Altium\Altium CoDesigner folder.

MCAD-910

Some component models which went beyond the border of the rigid region of a rigid-flex board in ECAD were placed incorrectly in SOLIDWORKS. Fixed (the component region in MCAD now includes the component pads).

MCAD-1073

Turning the "Build 3D Geometry of Copper" option OFF did not suppress the Copper assemblies in PTC Creo and Autodesk Inventor. Fixed.

MCAD-1299

CoDesigner now supports the changes made by the user to the name of the board part.

MCAD-1375

The type of a Hole was reset to the default one in SOLIDWORKS if the properties of hole were changed in ECAD. Fixed.

MCAD-1398

CoDesigner now supports defining areas in MCAD, including: a) Keep Out Areas, b) PCB Rooms, referred to as "Text Note Rooms". Both can be created in MCAD using the new CoDesigner ribbon toolbar (supported for SOLIDWORKS and Autodesk Inventor, the solution for PTC Creo is coming soon) or manually as extruded surfaces with the sketch placed on a board face. The new "PCB Definition" tab has been introduced in the CoDesigner panel for working with the properties of these areas. A "Text Note Room" entity created in MCAD is represented as a Room entity in ECAD and can be used for assigning rules such as height limits.

MCAD-1416

Autodesk Inventor 2021 is now officially supported.

MCAD-1417

SOLIDWORKS 2021 is now supported.

MCAD-1442

Construction lines included into the board sketch in SOLIDWORKS caused an error. Fixed.

MCAD-1465

Component Name and Reference Designator are now put into the corresponding property fields in the component properties in a PCB assembly in SOLIDWORKS (previously, ECAD's reference designators were put into the "Component Name" field)

MCAD-1514

Component Names are shown along with the Reference Designators in the Changes' Table on pull in MCAD now.

MCAD-1519

The deletion of the Free 3D Bodies that are deleted in ECAD is now allowed when pulling a PCB on MCAD side (with the warning for the models placed in MCAD).

MCAD-1520

"Altium CoDesigner" ribbon toolbar is now provided for SOLIDWORKS and Autodesk Inventor users. The ribbon currently includes commands for creating holes, cutouts and board areas. Note: the solution for PTC Creo is coming soon.

MCAD-1528

The order of decals (the pictures that are representing copper, silkscreen and solder mask on a board face) applied in SOLIDWORKS has been changed. Now the order (from a board face) is: Copper, Solder mask, Silkscreen.

MCAD-1536

The 'default_dec_places' param was set up for the entire session in PTC Creo. Now it's set up for the PCB models only.

MCAD-1567

The different decimal separators used in ECAD and in MCAD in non-English Windows locales caused error on pull in ECAD. Fixed.

MCAD-1571

The way of applying color properties to the board itself and to the board layers in MCAD has been changed. Now all the color properties are applied according to what is set up in the 3D View Properties in ECAD.

MCAD-1577

CoDesigner plugin for Autodesk Inventor was installed for the current user only, which caused some issues if that user is not an administrator. Now the plugin is installed for all Windows users.

MCAD-1588

Performance improvements: The algorithm for building holes in SOLIDWORKS (it was one of the slowest operations) has been improved, PCBs with many holes are now built approx twice as fast.

MCAD-1594

"Use common folder for storing models that are coming from ECAD" option was ignored in Autodesk Inventor. Fixed.

MCAD-1600

The decals representing the Paste layers are not sent from ECAD to MCAD anymore.

MCAD-1612

Auto-update mechanism of MCAD plugins did not work from behind a proxy. Fixed.

MCAD-1614

The way of storing decals (the pictures that are representing copper, silkscreen and solder mask on a board face) has been changed: a) they are now stored in the same folder where the board part is stored, b) the path to a decal is not assigned anymore, only the name of a decal is kept.

MCAD-1629

Re-annotation of PCB in ECAD (changing the reference designators for components) caused the usage of the wrong models in MCAD in some cases. Fixed.

MCAD-1685

PCB component parameters were not always synchronizing to MCAD. Fixed.


New in CoDesigner 2.0.5

Feature Highlights

Support for PCB Variants

Altium NEXUS allows the electronics designer to create variations of the product they are designing. Supported variations include: flagging a component as not fitted; modifying a component's parameters, including the component value that is silkscreened on the board; or replacing a component with an alternate component (which may or may not use a different footprint).

In Altium NEXUS, there is only one board design. Variant information, such as details about an alternate component, is stored in the project file and applied to the board when the variant is selected in the Projects panel. The [No Variations] version of the board is saved as the PcbDoc.

Altium NEXUS can be used to create variations of a board design.

Pushing a Variant from ECAD

For this release, CoDesigner has been updated to support Pushing and Pulling a specific variant of a board between ECAD and MCAD. When you perform a Push from ECAD, you are pushing the variant you are currently looking at in the PCB editor.

Double-click in the Projects panel to select the required variant to be Pushed.

Each time a board is Pushed from Altium NEXUS to the Workspace, it overwrites the data saved during the previous Push. If multiple variants need to be pushed, each variant must be Pulled to MCAD and saved before the next variant is Pushed from Altium NEXUS.

Pulling a Variant in to MCAD

A PCB variant is Pulled to MCAD in the same way as a non-variant PCB, by clicking Pull Board from Server button in the Altium CoDesigner panel. If the board is a variant, additional information detailing the variant name is displayed at the top of the Altium CoDesigner panel, as shown below.

Each component that is varied is identified by including the variant name in the designator, as detailed below.

  • Non-varied component: <EcadDesignator>
  • Varied component: <EcadDesignator>_VARIANT_<VariantName>

Varied components are identified by their MCAD part name and their designator.

Because the default name for the MCAD board assembly is the project name, it is recommended to save each variant assembly with a variant-related name.

Pushing a Variant from MCAD

In MCAD, CoDesigner is aware if a component is part of the base design [No Variations], or belongs to a specific variant. Changes made to a component in the base design [No Variations] will impact all variants of the board in Altium NEXUS, while changes made in a specific variant will only be applied to that variant in Altium NEXUS.

Modifications made to a variant are pushed from MCAD to ECAD in the usual way, by clicking Push in the Altium CoDesigner panel.

Pulling a Variant in to ECAD

If you attempt to perform a Pull in to Altium NEXUS and the wrong variant is currently active, you will receive the following error message. The applicable variant name is displayed in the Error dialog, switch to that variant and Pull again.

The Pull cannot be completed as the wrong variant is active in Altium NEXUS.

If there have been changes made to a component in the base design, they can be applied in any variant in Altium NEXUS. Those changes will then be present in all variants in Altium NEXUS.

Read about CoDesigner and PCB Variants

► Learn more about creating Variants in Altium NEXUS

Improved Support for Problematic Models

Each ECAD and MCAD tool has its own model conversion software, offering different levels of support for importing and converting a model that has issues with inconsistencies or inaccuracies in the model description. To help in this situation CoDesigner now transfers single-body Parasolid models directly from ECAD to MCAD, without transformation and without converting (which could sometimes result in the corruption of a model).

If a model is causing problems during a Push-Pull between ECAD and MCAD, extract it from the ECAD component, import it into your MCAD software and save it out as Parasolid (confirming that it opens correctly in MCAD), then import it back into the ECAD component.

When you are importing the Parasolid model back in to ECAD, there are different techniques you can use to orient and position the model in the PCB library editor:

Position and orient the model using the Properties panel

Position and orient the model using the Orient and Position 3D Body command

Learn more about the Requirements for the MCAD and ECAD models

Versions Supported by CoDesigner 2.0.5

Altium NEXUS Client 3.2 with the Collaboration panel extension version 2.0.5.284

This update has been tested on the following MCAD platforms and Add-in versions:

MCAD Version MCAD Add-In Version
Autodesk Inventor Professional® - versions 2019, 2020 2.0.5.52
Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS® - versions 2018, 2019, 2020 2.0.5.68
PTC Creo Parametric® - 4.X , 5.X, 6.X, 7.X 2.0.5.60

Release Notes for CoDesigner 2.0.5

MCAD-1098 CoDesigner can now synchronize PCB Variants from ECAD to MCAD and back. The Variants can be synchronized one by one, without creating product configurations in MCAD (CoDesigner shows which variant is currently in sync there).
MCAD-1167 Wrong header was shown for warning messages from the Collaboration Panel in Altium NEXUS. Fixed.
MCAD-1168 CoDesigner now reports the absolute time of push and pull actions in ECAD in order to avoid any confusion when the user took a long break after doing a sync.
MCAD-1185 CoDesigner now shows the coordinates of problematic points in the units being used for the board (previously they were always shown in mils).
MCAD-1228 Rigid-flex board support: CoDesigner now detects the situation when one of the ends of a split line is covered by a cutout on push from ECAD (which means that most probably a coordinate system that is used for mating a component assembly will not be created in MCAD properly) and warns user.
MCAD-1252 CoDesigner now transfers the single-body Parasolid models imported into the footprints to MCAD without transformation and without converting. This helps avoid model corruption that can occur during these steps in some cases.
MCAD-1287 CoDesigner now reads the server MCAD component placement settings on each push, so there is no need to restart the ECAD/MCAD software after changing the settings.
MCAD-1346 Rigid-flex boards support: CoDesigner now allows the synchronization of the movement of pads that are placed on a flex segment and represented by a body-less component.
MCAD-1424 On pull from ECAD, CoDesigner now reports components that do not have designators.
MCAD-1452 Free 3D bodies were not sent from Inventor 2020 to ECAD due to the modern version of Parasolid used. Fixed.
MCAD-1464 Tolerance settings were wrongly set up by CoDesigner in PTC Creo. CoDesigner now stopped to set up those settings.
MCAD-1476 Placement change was wrongly shown in the changes' table in MCAD for the components which were initially placed in MCAD on the bottom face of a board. Fixed.
MCAD-1477 Incorrect standoff height was defined on pull in ECAD for Free 3D Bodies placed on the bottom face of a board on MCAD side in some cases. Fixed.
MCAD-1485 UI: "Help" button has been moved to the top of CoDesigner's panel in MCAD.
MCAD-831 CoDesigner was not able to read a board outline in PTC Creo if that outline was created as a reference to a part located in a parent assembly (eg an outline created as an offset from an enclosure). Fixed.
MCAD-854 Changes made to the 3D models in MCAD were not synchronized with ECAD and vice versa. Fixed.
MCAD-903 CoDesigner now builds a hole with its center located outside of the board outline as a cut extrude in MCAD, in order to avoid incorrect behavior in MCAD.

New in CoDesigner 2.0.4

Feature Highlights

Rigid-Flex Board Definition in MCAD

Substantial improvements to rigid-flex support – the board shape and bending definitions can be now be defined and modified in SOLIDWORKS® and components can be placed and moved in SOLIDWORKS. (rigid-flex support for PTC Creo® and Autodesk Inventor® coming in a future update)

The board shape and bending definitions can now be defined and modified in SOLIDWORKS.

Learn more about Synchronizing a Rigid-Flex Board

Stronger Support for Complex Board Shapes

Improved support for board shape definition issues – micro-segments and self-intersections in the ECAD board sketch are now detected and reported on Push. Their locations are detailed, and are fixed automatically in MCAD where possible.

For issues that cannot be resolved in MCAD, learn more about Resolving Issues with the Board Contour in ECAD

Improved Component Synchronization

Handling of locked components has been simplified – Fixed or Constrained MCAD parts now translate to Locked components in ECAD, and Locked in ECAD becomes Fixed in MCAD. Changes to the Locked/Fixed state now synchronizes between MCAD and ECAD.

ECAD component properties now transfer to MCAD – All ECAD PCB component parameters now transfer to the MCAD part.

Altium NEXUS PCB component parameters transfer to the equivalent MCAD part.

Versions Supported by CoDesigner 2.0.4

Altium NEXUS Client 3.2 with the Collaboration panel extension version 2.0.4.272

This update has been tested on the following MCAD platforms and Add-in versions:

MCAD Version MCAD Add-In Version
Autodesk Inventor Professional® - versions 2019, 2020 2.0.4.45
Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS® - versions 2018, 2019, 2020 2.0.4.62
PTC Creo Parametric® - 4.X , 5.X, 6.X, 7.X 2.0.4.53

Release Notes for CoDesigner 2.0.4

MCAD-1394 PTC Creo crashed on editing the definition of a component outside of context of PCB assembly. Fixed.
MCAD-1367 PTC Creo crashed on applying changes on the secondary pull if there were ECAD components with the long names. Fixed.
MCAD-1294 Sync Component Holes change appeared in change table on each pull in SolidWorks for components that have more than two slotted self-intersected pads. Fixed.
MCAD-1285 Sign In by pressing Enter didn't work in Inventor plugin. Fixed.
MCAD-1283 Added support for PTC Creo 7.
MCAD-1276 Rigid-Flex boards support: Validation of the minimum acceptable distance between a bending area and a split line is added.
MCAD-1258 All the properties of components transferred from Altium NEXUS are applied to the corresponding models in MCAD now.
MCAD-1239 The UI of the Settings dialog in MCAD plugins is simplified and unified for all the MCADs supported. The settings for handling fixed/locked state and for auto-constraining in SolidWorks are removed (see MCAD-788)
MCAD-1236 Rigid-Flex boards support: Undoing changes to the board outline which were made in MCAD and applied in ECAD, and pulling those changes again in ECAD broke the board structure in ECAD. Fixed.
MCAD-1222 CoDesigner now checks if PCB project includes Variants and warns user that Variants are not supported yet.
MCAD-1221 The list of available workspaces was not shown in CoDesigner panel in ECAD if user opened a PCB stored locally. Fixed.
MCAD-1192 The versioning of the model of exchange data is introduced. If the version of ECAD extension or the version of MCAD plugin doesn't correspond the version of the model of data stored on the server, CoDesigner will warn user.
MCAD-1191 Old coordinates were shown in the warning/error messages in ECAD if the ECAD board origin was relocated to the new position.
MCAD-1188 Rigid-Flex boards support: The structure of a rigid PCB created on MCAD side was broken after transforming it to a rigid-flex PCB in ECAD and sending back to MCAD. Fixed.
MCAD-1187 Components that were placed in MCAD and then recognized in ECAD were shifted if the board outline was moved to the negative coordinates in MCAD. Fixed.
MCAD-1183 Rigid-Flex boards support: SolidWorks stopped working on applying changes to the bend angle on some boards. Fixed.
MCAD-1166 Wrong preview of a free 3D body was shown in ECAD if the model was rotated for more than 45 degrees around Y axis in MCAD. Fixed
MCAD-1165 Wrong preview of a free 3D body was shown and the corresponding change appeared again in the changes' table in ECAD if the model was rotated around X axis in Inventor. Fixed
MCAD-1164 'Placement changed' change was wrongly shown for a free 3D body in ECAD on the second pull despite the corresponding change having already been applied. Fixed
MCAD-1163 A bend was not created in MCAD in some cases if there was a cutout placed in the middle of that bend. Fixed.
MCAD-1161 Decals were shifted in some cases on the rounded-shaped boards in Creo. Fixed.
MCAD-1159 Some improvements to keyboard support were made in the MCAD "Select Project" dialog.
MCAD-1119 CoDesigner now detects issues with the board contours (micro-segments, self-intersecting contours) on push on ECAD side in order to prevent sending boards that can't be built in MCAD.
MCAD-1104 MCAD stopped working if a PCB assembly was opened locally after stopping the CoDesigner Server. Fixed.
MCAD-1102 Rigid-Flex boards support: Mechanical engineers can now add and delete the rigid and flex regions as well as bends on a rigid-flex board in MCAD.
MCAD-1101 CoDesigner now shows the coordinates of problematic elements of cutout contours.
MCAD-1070 There was no preview of a cutout shape change in ECAD, for changes made on MCAD side. Fixed.
MCAD-1067 The behavior with interpreting holes and cutouts on push in Solidworks is changed (unified with other MCADs supported): an extruded cut is now always transferred to ECAD as a cutout.
MCAD-1066 Component holes are always created in SolidWorks now (unified with other MCADs supported). The corresponding option is removed from the settings.
MCAD-1063 The link to the documentation on CoDesigner panel in ECAD didn't work if a project was not available online. Fixed.
MCAD-1060 Wrong message was shown in the Collaboration Panel in NEXUS if a project was just made available on the server. Fixed.
MCAD-1054 Wrong preview was shown in MCAD for a component that was initially placed in MCAD and then recognized in ECAD and then deleted if its Z axis was oriented horizontally. Fixed.
MCAD-1046 CoDesigner now warns user when it's impossible to define the rotation of a component that was synchronized between MCAD and ECAD but has no 3D bodies embedded.
MCAD-1028 Push comments made in MCAD were not shown in ECAD if there were no changes detected. Fixed.
MCAD-1025 The preview for the hole placement change made in ECAD was not shown in MCAD. Fixed.
MCAD-1019 CoDesigner now warns the user if the "-" symbol is detected in component designators in ECAD (that symbol is reserved for internal purposes).
MCAD-990 CoDesigner now informs the MCAD user that issues with micro segments in the board sketch that came from ECAD, are fixed automatically in MCAD.
MCAD-968 UI improvements: Options to switch between Altium 365 and a Custom Server have been made more obvious in MCAD plugin.
MCAD-955 Rigid-flex boards support: CoDesigner now checks for issues with the board definition on push on ECAD side: if a bending area touches/overlaps another bending area or a split line.
MCAD-944 Component holes with a self-intersecting contour are created as separate features in MCAD now.
MCAD-943 Rigid-flex boards support: CoDesigner now shows the preview of component placement changes (it is shown in the unfolded state).
MCAD-942 UI improvements: The default size of the "Open Project" dialog has been decreased, and the dialog opens in the center of the screen now.
MCAD-926 Rigid-Flex boards support: Internal contours made in the board outline sketch in MCAD are not supported anymore. CoDesigner now warns the user if such a contour is detected.
MCAD-867 CoDesigner failed to create a circular-shaped PCB in Creo. Fixed.
MCAD-840 CoDesigner in Creo failed to create a cutout located at the corner of the PCB if the cutout including the board corner point. Fixed.
MCAD-839 The Board Outline shifted to negative coordinates in ECAD after undoing changes that came from MCAD, if that board had negative coordinates in MCAD. Fixed.
MCAD-793 CoDesigner now validates components placed on the MCAD side if the "Component Recognition" option is turned ON, and warns the user if there are no corresponding components found on Altium's server.
MCAD-788 The behavior with handling ECAD's "locked" state and MCAD's "fixed" and "constrained" states is changed. The dynamic constraints to the board face are not created automatically in MCAD anymore. The “Mate Electrical Components to Board” and "Fix components on board" options are removed from the settings of SolidWorks plugin. If a component is fixed or constrained in MCAD, it becomes locked in ECAD (regardless of if that constraint allows any movements within the PCB assembly or not). If a component is locked in ECAD, it becomes fixed in MCAD unless it's constrained there. The removal of locked/fixed state is synchronized between MCAD and ECAD as well.
MCAD-709 CoDesigner now allows the user to re-connect to the server if the connection has been lost.

New in CoDesigner 2.0.3

Stronger Support for Complex Board Shapes and Components

This release sees substantial improvement in the support for passing PCB designs back and forth between Altium NEXUS and your favorite MCAD design software.

Design changes are Pushed and Pulled between the ECAD and MCAD domains through a dedicated panel.

This support includes:

  • Bi-directional transfer of complex board shapes with cutouts
  • Bi-directional transfer of placed components as 3D models
  • MCAD to ECAD transfer of native components
  • ECAD to MCAD transfer of native components (Creo only)
  • Support for rigid-flex PCBs (SOLIDWORKS only)

Versions Supported by CoDesigner 2.0.3

Altium NEXUS Client 3.1 with the Collaboration panel extension version 2.0.3.255

This update has been tested on the following MCAD platforms and Add-in versions:

MCAD Version MCAD Add-In Version
Autodesk Inventor Professional® - versions 2019, 2020 2.0.3.27
Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS® - versions 2018, 2019, 2020 2.0.3.30
PTC Creo Parametric® - 4.X , 5.X, 6.X 2.0.3.31

Release Notes for CoDesigner 2.0.3

MCAD-983 SolidWorks crashed on pull sometimes. The cause of most of these crashes has been found and fixed.
MCAD-1107 Top Solder Mask and Bottom Solder Mask decals are applied as visible in SolidWorks 2019- and as hidden in SolidWorks 2020+ now. Note: previously applying of these decals was disabled because of the issues with the rendering in SolidWorks 2020. Now the user can make them visible manually in SolidWorks 2020+ and then adjust the appearance if necessary.
MCAD-1170 Autodesk Inventor crashed if a board was created on MCAD side. Fixed.
MCAD-1180 The models that are sent to the server are now packed in order to save space and to increase the performance.
MCAD-1186 UI change: the progress bar has been moved from separate window to CoDesigner's panel.

 

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