Download a free trial to find out which Altium software best suits your needs
Contact your local sales office to get started on improving your design environment
Download the latest in PCB design and EDA software
Complete Environment for Schematic + Layout
Entry Level, Professional PCB Design Tool
Community Based PCB Design Tool
Agile PCB Design For Teams
Connecting PCB Design to the Manufacturing Floor
Complete Solution for Library Management
Extensive, Easy-to-Use Component Database
Natural and Effortless Power Distribution Network Analysis
World-Renowned Technology for Embedded Systems Development
Learn best practices with instructional training available worldwide
Gain comprehensive knowledge without leaving your home or office
View & Share electronic designs in your browser
Annual PCB Design Summit
Where Altium users and enthusiasts can interact with each other
Our blog about things that interest us and hopefully you too
Submit ideas and vote for new features you want in Altium tools
Help make the software better by submitting bugs and voting on what's important
A stream of events on AltiumLive you follow by participating in or subscribing to
Information about participating in our Beta program and getting early access to Altium tools
Explore the latest content from blog posts to social media and technical white papers gathered together for your convenience
Take a look at what download options are available to best suit your needs
Contact your local sales office to get started improving your design environment
The documentation area is where you can find extensive, versioned information about our software online, for free.
View the schedule and register for training events all around the world and online
Browse our vast library of free design content including components, templates and reference designs
Attend a live webinar online or get instant access to our on demand series of webinars
Get your questions answered with our variety of direct support and self-service options
Stay up to date with the latest technology and industry trends with our complete collection of technical white papers.
Quick and to-the-point video tutorials to get you started with Altium Designer
Altium is led by a team of highly passionate industry experts
Announcements to the ASX market from the preceding 3 years
Our customers can be found changing every industry; see how
No matter what color you decide on; blue PCB or other, Altium Designer is the PCB design tool of choice that you need to get the job done.
TOPICS IN THIS SOLUTION
For any solder mask need, count on Altium Designer
The color of the circuit board is determined by the color of the solder mask that is used during manufacturing, and there are a lot of colors to choose from. Traditional green, red, and even blue are just some of the colors that are available for use. For some the color of the circuit board may have a specific meaning. Red may indicate a prototype board, while others may prefer blue colored boards for mounting against an LCD. Another purpose for blue PCBs is to give greater contrast to silkscreen labeling.
Whatever the reason is for the color of solder mask that you will use, you will still need a versatile PCB design CAD system that will give you the most control over your solder mask layers. You will need to able to adjust your solder mask for different manufacturers, and for different methods of manufacturing. You will need manual solder mask editing capabilities and batch editing features as well. To get your circuit board successfully through the assembly processes, you need PCB design tools that will give you the control you need over your design. You need Altium Designer.
Solder mask prevents the application of solder onto the areas of a printed circuit board that it covers. It will also protect metal from exposure which could cause oxidation, and it will keep solder from forming little bridges between metal that shouldn’t be shorted together. Not only are there different colors of solder mask that can be used, but there are also different types of mask material as well.
Different solder mask color means different soldermask materials are intended to satisfy the requirements of whichever industry the circuit board is being designed for through the assembly process. There are also different methods of soldering the board which could have an effect on how your design your solder mask. Wave solder for instance may require different sized pad shapes than reflow solder.
Whether its integrated circuits or some simple PCB fabrication, knowledge about your traces, copper, parts or components, and the fab house you’ve sent your data to will be necessary. Knowing more about solder mask materials and the application that they are intended for will help you to design a better printed circuit board.
The manufacturing rules menu for setting up solder mask clearances in Altium Designer
Solder mask images are created on their own layer in the PCB design tools in order to give you the most control. The individual pad shapes are set up in the footprint library part with the ability to expand the shape individually as needed. You also have the ability to change the pad shapes according to a rule in order to batch change the solder mask pads. Another important feature is the ability to manually create or edit shapes on the solder mask layer in order to satisfy any unique requirements of your PCB design.
It is also important to be able to verify the work that you have done on the solder mask in the design with manufacturing rules checking. Altium Designer has a complete set of design rules checking (DRC) as well as manufacturing rules checking (MRC). These rules will be look for solder mask clearances as well as solder mask slivers between pads.
From manual editing capabilities to automatic batch edits, Altium Designer has the features you need to create your solder mask images.
A 3D layout in Altium Designer with the solder mask rendered in blue
A good solder mask is only as good as the design it is intended for, and here is where Altium Designer will help you to create a perfect printed circuit board design. Starting with the schematic Altium Designer provides you with a suite of tools that will take you all the way through library creation, circuit simulation, PCB layout, signal integrity checking, and finally manufacturing output files. Altium Designer’s feature rich PCB layout tools give you the latest enhancement to help you design HDI boards with micro vias and intelligent routing tools. Creating the perfect solder mask image is only part of the final output files, and Altium Designer helps you with the rest as well with automated tools for drawing creation and file generation.
The solder mask is only a small part of the complete PCB design, and Altium Designer gives you a host of other tools and enhanced functionality to take care of the rest.
Not only does Altium Designer give you the best PCB design tools from start to finish, but you also have the best tools to work with to create the solder mask image that you need no matter what color you decide on.