Designing Aerospace and Military PCBs
Military and aerospace systems are complicated embedded systems that must interface with each other over standard communication protocols. Each of these embedded systems must provide specific functionality in rugged environments, and creating military PCBs for PCB assembly takes powerful design software. Only Altium Designer gives you all the tools you need to design aerospace and military PCBs in a single application.
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A unified PCB design package for aerospace and military PCBs.
An embedded system is intended to perform specific functions within an overall system with perpetual uptime and little to no maintenance. Designing military PCBs for embedded systems takes design software that is adaptable to any design, whether it’s a typical PCB, computer peripheral, or single board computer for an unmanned vehicle or aircraft. These boards carry strict performance and sourcing requirements, and PCB engineers need tools to help them manage the supply chain for their new products alongside their design tools.
Given the strict performance, sourcing, and manufacturing standards on PCBs for military systems, designers that are not experienced in this area face a number of design challenges. The right design software will help you design to military and industry standards by allowing you to incorporate critical layout and electrical specifications as design rules. Only Altium Designer integrates all of your design features on top of a single rules-driven design engine, giving you the adaptability you need to design any embedded system.
In avionics, aerospace, and military applications, many circuit boards will include onboard processing with custom firmware, volatile and non-volatile memory, communications capabilities, and signal processing capabilities. These printed circuit boards are designed to withstand the harsh environments found on the battlefield and during flight. The list of industry standards on ordinary printed circuit boards is already long, but there are additional standards on military systems and printed circuit assemblies.
The primary differences between civilian and military PCBs involve manufacturing quality standards and performance standards. Manufacturing processes must be designed to meet AS9100 standards, which are among the strictest quality standards on any PCB manufacturing process. PCBs for military applications must be manufactured to the highest quality standards according to MIL-PRF-50884, MIL-PRF-31032, and MIL-PRF-55110. Military PCBs are often placed in systems with high thermal demands, high power consumption, and repeated thermal cycling while providing perpetual uptime.
With such stringent standards on military printed circuit designs, how can designers ensure their systems will be reliable and meet all these important requirements? Using rules-driven circuit board design software allows you to define your design requirements as rules and constraints. As you layout your circuit board, your routing and component placement are checked against your design constraints, and you’ll see a visual flag if there is a design violation. This helps you quickly navigate the broad range of standards on military PCBs while also creating a high quality circuit board.
Defining design rules for a complex military and aerospace circuit board in Altium Designer.
Preparing military PCBs for fabrication and assembly requires preparing standardized documentation for your circuit boards that include all electronic components, assembly instructions, Gerber files, and other documentation. You’ll need to accurately communicate the intent of your design to your PCB manufacturer. You’ll also want to panelize your boards and include markers on the silkscreen/solder mask to maximize circuit board yield and expedite assembly.
Meet Design and DFM Requirements for Military PCBs in Altium Designer
Designing to critical MIL and IPC standards, and designing for assembly and manufacturing, will ensure your new product is qualified and accepted for deployment. As battlefield and in-flight requirements on military printed circuit boards broaden and required capabilities increase, designers need to pack more functionality into less board space. Designing toward the HDI regime with more powerful electronics is easier within the rules-driven design environment in Altium Designer. You can ensure compliance for complex systems and target specific mil-aero market segments.
- Any component that appears in an embedded system will need to be IPC compliant in order for the entire system to meet IPC and MIL standards.
- Rules checking features are vital for compliant systems, including aerospace and military applications. You can easily keep track of complex printed circuit design and PCB fabrication standards with the right rules-checking features in your PCB design software.
- Embedded systems for portable/mobile military require power management capabilities that appear directly on-board.
The design-rules engine in Altium Designer covers schematic design, circuit board layout, and signal integrity checks.
If you’re working with precision electronic equipment for use in defense systems, you’ll need to procure the most rugged, electrically stable components and connectors on the market. Military PCBs are typically over-designed with high safety margins, both for mechanical and electrical components.
Connectors designed to military standards are designed to be waterproof, suppress noise, withstand a broad range of temperatures, and suppress EMI. These connectors carry tight electrical and mechanical tolerances. In the case of optical connectors, military standards require ultra-low insertion/return loss and tight tolerances on performance.
Comply with Standards on Military-Grade PCBs and Connectors
Standards for military PCB connectors are about more than just structural standards for connectors themselves. MIL standards specify placement procedures and tolerances that must be followed while designing your printed circuit board. There are plenty of available options for military grade connectors, and you can verify which connectors are best for your board when you define military grade specifications as design rules in your design software. This helps you stay compliant with military mechanical and assembly standards, no matter which connectors you use in your PCB.
- Many military systems run on single-board computers. These computer systems are common in unmanned vehicles, aircraft, and other battlefield equipment. They also require highly rugged connectors and components that can withstand harsh environments.
- Selecting connectors for printed circuit boards is as much of an art as it is science. Connectors for military PCBs need to be rugged and reliable to prevent device failure.
- Rigid-flex boards for military applications take unique termination to ensure rigid and flex sections remain reliable.
Prepare your military circuit board for PCB manufacturing with Draftsman in Altium Designer.
Military standards on mission-critical systems are designed to ensure reliability, uptime, and manufacturing quality, and these standards exceed performance standards used in nearly all other industries. Add to this the regulations on sourcing and information tracking, and designers need a complete solution that integrates military supply chain tools with design features. Altium Designer places these important design, tracking, and documentation features in a single program.
Keeping your critical design, management, documentation, and procurement features in a single program helps keep your productivity high and helps you design military products and cutting-edge technology. The heavily rules-driven design interface in Altium Designer allows you to check your design against important defense standards in real time. Your design data will be quickly imported into your bill of materials and used to plan your next device for production. You’ll have everything you need for aerospace and military applications in Altium Designer.
Altium Designer: Unifying Design Tools in a Single Program
Whether you are designing avionics systems or embedded systems for the military, your PCB design tools must be adaptable to any application and give you full control over all aspects of your design. While other design programs are busy separating design features into different programs and creating inconsistent workflows, only Altium Designer places your important design tools into a single program. You’ll be able to take complete control over your design and create top-quality PCBs for military products.
- The rules-driven design engine in Altium Designer helps ensure that your designs will meet critical reliability and manufacturability standards on electronics for aerospace and military applications.
- The ability to manage your electronic components sources in real time helps you ensure quality and remain compliant with military PCB manufacturing regulations and standards.
- Altium Designer includes tools that address the defense industry’s design needs and helps companies easily move to manufacturing.
Altium Designer helps you to manage the supply chain for military PCBs with Active BOM
Designing mission-critical military applications requires the best circuit board design, management, collaboration, sourcing, and production planning tools. Only Altium Designer places all these features in a single program. The rules-driven design environment checks your layout against your military standards in real-time, and you’ll have everything you need to track compliance throughout your supply chain. If you want access to the best design tools for military PCBs, you need Altium Designer.