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Given the multitude of component manufacturers, each producing even greater multitudes of components, no one can keep track of all information for every circuit board part. PCB components contain more information than just electrical specifications. Your PCB components also contain pin layouts, schematic symbols, SPICE model information, and even 3D models. The right PCB design software package can take advantage of all of this information and help you build the best possible PCB.
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A PCB design software package with the best component management tools.
Whether it’s a printed circuit or integrated circuits that you’re working toward, planning out copper, laying out components, and managing your available board space are necessities for any design. So how do you make it so that your components don’t feel like they’re always in competition with your copper on the printed circuit?
Electronic components are like the critical organs that allow your printed circuit board PCB to come to life. Remove one component, and the whole ecosystem is at risk of collapse. The components on your PCB are encoded with several pieces of information, and engineers hope all this information is stored in your component library. Your component library needs to synchronize with your schematic and layout tools. Your bill of materials tools also need to interface with your component library so that you can move to production without a hitch.
Your PCB library stores all of the essential information for your PCB components and is critical to the proper functionality of your design software. Your layout and schematic tools need to access your component footprints and symbols so that you can build your design. Your validation and rules checking features extract the specifications and models from your component library in order to verify that your device will work as designed.
Beyond just laying out your copper or copper foil, component manufacturers periodically produce new components and update specifications on existing component models. Your component library needs to have access to this information, which will ensure that your produced PCB matches the design on your computer screen. This also lets you stay up to date on the latest and greatest component options for your PCB.
Proper component management methodologies help streamline the design process and helps prevent design errors. This also allows your simulation tools to instantly access your component information so you can diagnose problems and validate your design. When you move to production, your PCB design software uses information from your component libraries and layout to generate your bills of materials, and Gerber files for your manufacturer.
Bill of materials generation in Altium Designer
When it comes to organizing and considering the assembly of the components for your printed circuit board, you’ll need to take into account the layers that are involved. How are you going to get the copper on to your printed circuit? Will your current component placement allow for the solder to be placed with an appropriate solder mask and solder paste? Do you have large surface mount components? Are there holes required? Where do wires come in? And can your printed circuit accommodate pads? Large transistors?
Your component management strategy should take into account more than just the essential built-in components. Custom or proprietary components give you some flexibility when designing PCBs. Whether you’re working with common or custom components, a component library system that supports your methodology gives you the power to design the best PCBs for any application.
Once you’ve decided to start creating custom components, you’ll need to implement a library management methodology that supports your organizational goals. Keeping track of components, hole management, and layer stackups for your printed circuit can be difficult without proper software. Whether you work in a large enterprise environment, or you’re a freelance designer, your PCB design software should give you the freedom to implement the methodology that supports your workflow.
Editing pin assignments in Altium Designer
Components in your PCB layout and schematic are intimately linked through the information in your component library. Resistors, capacitors, a replacement board, and more are all worth consideration. A change in one part of your design needs to synchronize to the remaining parts of your design. Working in piecemeal design software that separates layout and schematic can create problems when trying synchronize component changes. You can also lose time when you have to export your design from one module and import it into another.
Instead of using PCB design software that separates critical modules, consider using integrated design software. Altium Designer is the only PCB design software platform that operates within a unified environment. This means that changes in one part of your design synchronize seamlessly with other parts of your design at the click of a button. Altium Designer also provides you with the tools you need to generate your bill of materials and integrates these critical features with the entire design environment.
Working within a unified design environment enhances your productivity, reduces the chances of errors, and streamlines the transition from design to production. Altium Designer gives you access to a massive component library that gives you the power to create any device you can imagine. Once you move to production, you’ll have access to component sourcing information that can be integrated into your bill of materials.
If working with piecemeal PCB design software is hampering your component management strategy, you should try working in a unified design environment. Altium Designer integrates your layout and component management tools in a single interface. You can rest assured that your PCB design, simulation, and manufacturer deliverable tools will synchronize with your component libraries, and you’ll have the flexibility to implement the component management strategy that works best for you.
If scouring the internet for component sourcing information and working with broken component libraries or poorly poured copper or copper foil doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, a great PCB design software package like Altium Designer can provide the solution. You’ll have access to the best design, component management, rules checking, and simulation tools, all accessible in a single design environment.