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For a good PCB design workflow for military grade PCB designs, you need Altium Designer.
TOPICS IN THIS SOLUTION
PCB Design software intended to keep your workflows manageable in all conditions.
At some point in your career of creating printed circuit boards, you will probably end up doing some designs for military applications. It is very possible that you may already have done some without even knowing about it. Not every military design is obvious and can sometimes include common off the shelf products. For the designs however that are directly used for weapons systems, avionics, and other high technology applications, you will encounter some specific requirements that may be new to you.
Military designs may require various levels of background checks before you can work on them. In some cases design personal may even be isolated from other corporate functions to ensure a higher level of security. The printed circuit boards themselves will also have different requirements to ensure their function in extreme conditions. This can include more stringent design constraints as well as specific areas of compliance that have to be maintained.
Even with these additional requirements, it is important to remember that it is still a printed circuit board. Your skills as a PCB designer will be more important than ever to design these products to their higher standards. You will need to make sure that you are adhering to a proper workflow for military designs, and you will want to make sure that you are prepared for the specific considerations that will be part of the design. Most importantly you will need design tools that have all the features that you’ve come to rely on so that you can quickly and easily work through these new requirements. Fortunately there is a PCB design system that can already handle what you need; Altium Designer.
To have a successful military PCB design workflow you need the same things in place that are important to any design; PCB design software that you can rely on and the training and preparation needed to get the job done. You PCB design tools must be capable of handling everything from the components you select to final output files. Your tools must be easy to learn and easy to work with. Your PCB design tools shouldn’t slow your process down, but instead you should be able to efficiently work within the schematic and PCB editor to create the design.
You should also have a thorough understanding of the entire circuit board manufacturing process as well as the design requirements. This would include understanding the building materials being used for multi-layer circuit boards as well as additive manufacturing processes and rigid-flex PCBs. Industry standard processes as lead-free solder and remediation waste should also be part of your understanding as well. You should be able to clearly grasp the entire workflow diagram from your job in PCB layout to what happens at the PCB manufacturer. To help with this we’ve provided some materials below for you to review.
You need PCB design software that will allow you to work through the entire military workflow as well as the knowledge and understanding to make it all work.
Altium Designer’s constraints and design rules will help with military PCB designs
PCB layout for military applications will have design process requirements as any other circuit board would, but there may be more attention needed for the specific needs of the design. There may be more stringent RF and high speed circuits involved, and reducing the size of the board is also important for PCBs that will ultimately be used in aircraft or other space critical applications. Because of that you will need to plan specifically for how the PCB layout process will be done in order to adhere to the needs of the circuitry while also reducing the size and layer count of the circuit board. This will require tools that can analyze your circuitry and power distribution. You will also need to be compliant with specific military design requirements and standards while adhering to specific component manufacturers and packages.
Balancing all of this can be very difficult. The requirements may dictate a certain direction in your design while the needs of the circuitry may be completely different. The key to balancing all of this is to use PCB design tools that can help you with every aspect of the job. You need design tools that have every design process in them from component selection, schematic capture, and circuit simulation, to library development, layout, signal integrity, and final manufacturing output files. Your design tools should also be poised to grow with the technology of the industry as you do so that you are ready and prepared for each new design challenge as it presents itself.
Don’t be caught off guard, you need PCB design tools that can handle every aspect of the job and that will grow with you as the needs of the industry change and evolve.
Signal Integrity tools like you find in Altium Designer are crucial to advance technology designs
To design to the level of technology required for advance military applications, you will need the most advanced PCB design tool system that you can get. Starting with the components you can select, Altium Designer has the features you need to locate and download the parts with their associated schematic symbols directly into your design. As you progress from the schematic diagram capture process to the PCB editor, Altium Designer will be able to help you with its advanced signal integrity tools and other circuit simulators so that you create the high speed circuitry needed for military grade printed circuit boards.
While in the PCB editor, Altium Designer will assist you with a host of different tools for board layer stackup creation, placement, routing, and high speed design. The xSignals tool will allow you to specify signal paths for your high speed nets giving you control over the routing topologies and trace lengths. To compliment this, Altium Designer also has an enhanced layer stackup manager that comes with an imbedded layer impedance calculator. This will allow you to input your circuit board materials, layer count, and signal values in order to correctly calculate trace widths and dielectric constants as you set up your high speed design process.
One design system that provides you with all of the tools needed for your printed circuit board design process.
There are two keys to a successful PCB design workflow for military design projects; knowing all that will be expected of you and having the most advanced PCB design system available. You are well on your way fulfilling the first part, and Altium Designer has the tools to take care of the rest.