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An electronics design is a collection of connected components. The rewarding part of product development is coming up with cool ways of solving those engineering challenges, connecting those components to craft your unique design.
However, a large part of the work, and to many designers, the more tedious part, is creating the components. While it might not be exciting, the components become a valuable resource for your company, and it is essential that they accurately represent the real-world component.
The component that you buy and solder onto the board is the real component, but that component has to be modeled in each of the electronic design domains in which you want to use it.
Depending on what type of design implementations you plan to perform, your component could include a symbol for the schematic, a simulation model for the circuit simulator, an IBIS model for signal integrity analysis, a pattern or footprint for PCB layout, and a 3D model for visualization, 3D clearance checking, and export to the mechanical CAD domain.
Components are stored in your Workspace – one centralized secure location for all your design data, accessible for your entire design team. The benefits of using components hosted in a Workspace are vast. Some of the advantages are:
And if you enjoy using Altium 365 Workspace with the Pro level of access, or an on-site Workspace, you’ll also benefit from extended functionality:
Altium Designer provides the ability to place components directly from a company database, by creating and using a Database Library. Placement is carried out from the Components panel which, after installing a database library, acts as a browser into your database.
After placement, design parameter information can be synchronized between placed components and their corresponding linked records in the database. Full component updates – including the graphical symbol, model references, and parameters, can be performed. Parametric information from the database can also be included in the final Bill of Materials (BOM), ready for component procurement.
Read about Working with Database Libraries.
If you need to keep your components locally, on your file system, you can organize your components into file-based libraries.
An Altium Designer file-based library is an arbitrary collection of models or components. How the models or components are organized into libraries is up to you. You might structure your libraries around device suppliers, or you might cluster components by function, for example, with a library for all of the microcontrollers your company uses.
Schematic component symbols are created in schematic libraries (
*.SchLib). The components in these libraries then reference footprints and other models defined in separate footprint libraries (
*.PcbLib) and model files. As a designer, you can place components from these discrete component libraries or you can compile the symbol libraries, footprint libraries, and model files into integrated libraries (
From a designer's perspective, a component gathers together all information needed to represent that component across all design domains, within a single entity. It could therefore be thought of as a container in this respect.
Each component is a collection of linked models and parametric component data. It is the models that contain the detailed information needed by each design domain.
The following model types can be used:
|Schematic symbol||The symbol represents the component on the schematic sheet. The symbol is created using standard drawing objects, the pins add the electrical properties.|
|SPICE model||Simulate the behavior of the connected components using the SPICE simulator. SPICE models are usually sourced from device suppliers.|
|Signal Integrity model||PCB interconnects are becoming part of the circuit as device and circuit switching speeds increase. IBIS models describe the pin behavior, allowing Altium Designer's signal integrity simulator to analyze the routes.|
|PCB footprint||Each component needs to have a place defined on the PCB where it mounts and connects – the footprint is the model that defines that PCB space. A PCB footprint is created from a set of standard objects, with the pads providing the connectivity.|
|3D model||Today's electronic product is compact and tightly packed, comes in an unusual shape, and may well have a PCB that is folded to fit into the case. To design a product like this you need to be able to model the PCB in 3D – so you can visualize the finished board, perform 3D clearance checking, and transfer the loaded board to the mechanical CAD domain. To do this, you'll need a 3D model of each component.|
The Components panel provides direct access to all available components, including Workspace, database- and file-based library components in Altium Designer.
The panel sources components from a Workspace and any open or installed library files. The panel offers full details of the selected component (Parameters, Models, Part Choices, Supplier data, etc.), component comparison, and for the Workspace components, a filter-based parametric search capability for specifying target component parameters. Based on contextual dynamic filters, the panel’s search capability allows you to quickly locate the exact part you need from your company's connected Workspace.
Read about The Components panel.
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