Designing PCBs for Aircraft with Altium Designer
Everyone knows that aircraft are massively complicated systems. The electrical, mechanical, and electronics systems are all tied together with PCBs that must be designed as extremely rugged systems. Not only must they be designed to withstand mechanical shock, meet EMC requirements, and temperature extremes, but the components must be top-of-the-line and must comply with important aviation standards. Designing to important quality and reliability standards, as well as sourcing the components you need for your system, takes design and management software that is adaptable for any application. Only Altium Designer helps you accomplish these goals for aircraft PCBs with ease.
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The only adaptable PCB design package that unifies design and component management features in a unified design environment.
Avionics systems are complex in terms of their own design, standards, and diverse functionality. Printed Circuit Boards in aircraft and aerospace systems must provide control over mechanical systems, communications and data processing, and power distribution throughout an aircraft. The form factors involved may require rigid-flex design, or they may appear as part of a larger multi-board system.
With the diverse functionality and multitude of form factors required in aircraft, avionics engineers and designers need tools that aid compliance with PCB design and functionality standards, as well as design to manufacturing and assembly. These avionics systems require reliability and performance-on-demand, as well as effective thermal management and EMC measures. Working with a unified design package helps engineers and systems designers meet this diverse array of challenges within a single program.
Multiple organizations define electrical and mechanical performance standards for electronics systems and circuit boards used in aircraft. Electrical systems and printed circuits in aircraft other avionics systems must carry a long lifecycle, provide performance on demand, and meet EMC requirements as specified by the FCC. These systems must be designed to provide the highest performance in extreme environments.
Aside from the mechanical, thermal, and electrical performance requirements, printed circuit boards for aircraft must meet design for manufacturing requirements as specified in the IPC and MIL standards. The components that appear in a printed circuit board for aircraft must meet their own standards. Connectors for aircraft must be waterproof, suppress noise, and operate properly over a broad temperature range.
Meeting Standards and Performance Requirements with the Right Design Software
Given the standards imposed on printed circuit boards in aircraft and the performance they must deliver, avionics PCBs tend to appear as part of a larger multi-board or embedded system with odd form factors. Rigid-flex and flexible circuits require rugged materials to withstand thermal and mechanical demands while providing electrical performance. Some flex and rigid-flex circuits can reach dozens of feet. Many printed circuits that are part of the power and electromechanical systems include heavy copper ground planes and traces in order to withstand high temperatures and large currents.
Meeting these structural requirements takes design software that is fully adaptable and allows you to customize the important electrical and mechanical features in your layout. The right design software will allow you to incorporate important standards as design rules. When your software unifies electrical and mechanical design, you can accurately place components and layout conductors to properly manage thermal demands while meeting electrical and mechanical requirements.
- Accurate electrical standards can be met within mechanical design constraints when your MCAD and ECAD tools are built into a single design environment.Learn more about designing with ECAD/MCAD integration.
- Heavy copper is a must in avionics systems that carry high current and that will operate at extreme temperatures.Learn more about designing copper polygons and planes in your printed circuit boards.
- No electrical and electronic system for use in aircraft would be complete without rigid-flex boards. The right stackup, materials, and layout features will ensure your flex and rigid-flex circuits perform at their best.Get an in-depth view of rigid-flex PCB design.
3D sectional view in a multi-board system with Altium Designer
In any highly regulated industry, documentation and data management are critical processes for any organization. Sourcing components for avionics systems and documenting progress on designs takes tools that help automate both processes by accessing data directly from your component libraries. Working in an integrated design environment is the best way to keep your productivity for both processes high, saving you time to design for peak performance.
How Integrated Sourcing and Management Tools Aid DFM and DFA
With sourcing and documentation being critical processes for the avionics and aerospace industries, your design tools should help you automate these processes. When your design tools integrate directly with your sourcing and documentation features, you’ll have the power to track every aspect of your design and demonstrate compliance with DFM and DFA standards. You’ll be able to communicate your design intent to your customers and your manufacturer with standardized documentation, and all within a single environment.
- Automating your ECO generation with your component management tools saves you time and improves your data management workflow.
- Implementing DFM and DFA is required according to IPC and MIL standards. The right design software helps you work within DFM and DFA requirements.
- Packing more functionality onto your device and accommodating the components you need takes software that allows customization of vias while working within important mechanical standards.Learn more about multilayer design and via protection.
3D design and schematic design in Altium Designer
There are plenty of PCB design considerations for aerospace applications, and using the right design platform can help you address all of them. Integrating design, management, sourcing, documentation, and production planning tools in a single program let you streamline your workflow and manage all aspects of your design in one place. You’ll have an assurance that your design meets important standards while keeping costs within budget.
Bringing Tools Together in One Interface with Altium Designer
Addressing the multitude of mechanical, electrical, and thermal standards, as well as sourcing and documentation requirements, takes a design platform that provides real integration. Other design platforms claim to offer a unified environment, but they still segment tools into different programs and enforce inconsistent workflow. Instead of switching between different tools to accomplish standard design tasks, try working with the only rules-driven platform that gives you a full suite of design tools in a single program.
- You can watch your productivity skyrocket when your design, management, and sourcing tools are placed in a single environment.Learn more about unified design in Altium Designer.
- Whether you work in the commercial sector or as a military contractor, implementing DFM standards will help you control costs and maximize yield.Learn more about implementing DFM and DFA practices in Altium Designer.
- The unique integration of ECAD and MCAD tools in a single interface makes multi-board and rigid-flex design much easier, allowing you to check mechanical clearances and electrical performance simultaneously.Learn more about 3D design tools for rigid-flex PCBs in Altium Designer.
Avionics engineers and designers need the best layout, sourcing, verification, and 3D design tools within a single program. Working on top of a rules-driven design engine ensures that these tools will communicate using a single language, preventing data format errors that can cripple other design programs. You’ll be able to define important avionics standards as design rules within an integrated design platform when you use Altium Designer, the industry standard in PCB design.
If you ever need assistance or an introduction to new features, Altium gives you the resources you need to get started and use the software successfully. The AltiumLive forum, an extensive knowledge base, feature tutorials, and podcasts and webinars with expert designers provide the support you need to design printed circuit boards for any application.
Designing your avionics systems to meet important quality and reliability standards is difficult enough, and your design software should ease the process. While other design platforms separate your critical design features in different programs, only Altium Designer integrates the critical features you need for avionics design into a single program. Invest in the best design tools and try Altium Designer.