High-Speed PCB Design for the Aerospace Industry in Altium Designer
Designing high performance PCBs for use in the harshest of environments takes the right design software. You’ll have to comply with rigorous design and manufacturing standards that are meant to ensure quality and reliability of military and aerospace. Working with high-speed digital and devices requires circuit board design software with powerful simulation capabilities that interface directly with your design software. Only Altium Designer gives you all of these capabilities within a single software package.
TOPICS IN THIS SOLUTION
A unified PCB design package with the best high-speed design and simulation features in a single program.
High speed PCB design is one of those areas that was long ignored by many designers until TTL switching speeds caused most traces in typical designs to act like transmission lines. Designers now had to account for important design aspects like controlling impedance throughout their boards, trace termination and impedance matching with components, strong crosstalk, and ringing in digital boards, and a host of other design issues.
Just like any other designer of high-speed PCBs, defense contractors who design circuit boards for aerospace applications need tools that help simplify high speed design. Moreover, they need tools that allow them to implement design for manufacturing (DFM) practices and ensure that their designs will meet critical military standards. Add to this the myriad of sourcing and compliance issues faced by procurement officers, designers, and the defense industry in general, and aerospace PCB designers need tools that can help them navigate the maze of requirements involved in aerospace PCB design.
Military and aerospace products must typically meet the IPC-A-610E Class 3 standard for High Performance Electronic Products. This category specifies high performance or performance-on-demand requirements. The goal is to ensure that equipment will function as the desired on-demand in harsh environments encountered by aerospace systems. Designing IPC-A-610E Class 3 products is less about the design and more about manufacturing.
For this reason, DFM practices must be implemented during the design phase in order to prevent defects in manufactured circuit boards. Implementing design for assembly (DFA) alongside DFM is also critical for an overall system as this shaves costs and lead times. Working with the right design software that allows you to implement high-speed design requirements as design rules alongside the right DFM practices ensure your next high-speed aerospace PCB will meet important standards and perform as required.
DFM For High-Speed Aerospace Design and Your Design Rules
Designing high-speed PCBs requires complying with a number of design rules on routing differential pairs, arranging ground and power planes, preventing signal reflection on transmission lines, and other issues. You’ll need to choose the best materials for use with high speed aerospace circuit boards to ensure they stand up to harsh environments. You’ll also need to consider the manufacturer’s specifications and capabilities as you design to ensure that you meet critical IPC and MIL standards for your circuit boards.
- DFM might sound complex, but working with rules-driven design software that checks your board as you create it will help ensure you meet your manufacturer’s requirements.Learn more about DFM in your PCB design software.
- Electronics standards are designed to ensure that your product will meet critical quality requirements. In addition to IPC-A-610E, you’ll have to meet thermal requirements specified in other IPC and MIL standards.Learn about designing to IPC standards for thermal management.
- If you’re designing custom components for aerospace products, you’ll need to make sure that your device will meet IPC standards on component footprints.
Creating an IPC compliant component model in Altium Designer
Before designing your layer stack and beginning your PCB layout, you should always consult with your manufacturer so that you can learn about their capabilities. Aerospace circuit boards come with plenty of design rules, especially high-speed boards for aerospace applications. Design software that is built on a rules-driven design engine can keep track of all of this automatically.
Signal Integrity Simulations in Rules-driven Design Software
As you design, signal integrity simulations and design rules help make sure your layout will comply with DFM standards and signal integrity and quality requirements. Your manufacturer-specified trace and component layout can be immediately checked against design rules and evaluated using signal integrity tools. You’ll need all of these tools for all applications of high-speed PCB design in aerospace systems.
- High-speed design for mission-critical applications in aerospace takes simulation tools that help you validate your board as you design.Learn more about implementing signal integrity simulations into your high-speed design process.
- DFM and DFA are critical aspects of PCB design for aerospace and military applications. You can avoid some common pitfalls with the right design software.
- You can easily check your design against industry and military standards when your PCB software runs on unified rules-driven design software.
You can add manufacturing specifications as design rules in Altium Designer
When considering a design platform for aerospace high-speed PCB design, you’ll need access to a number of critical features that help ensure device performance and compliance with standards. Software with automated design rule checking features ensures that your devices will meet important high speed design rules on trace length and spacing, component placement, pad size, and impedance tolerances.
All of this is much easier when your supply chain and production planning tool are integrated into your adaptable design software. Ultra-accurate layout tools ensure that you can design your board to meet manufacturer capabilities and processes as well as critical design standards that ensure reliability and quality. Only Altium Designer gives you all of these design tools and many more, including power delivery analysis and signal integrity features.
Why You Need an Integrated Design Platform
Other design platforms segment these important features into separate programs. These segmented design platforms were not built specifically for PCB design and don’t include the features needed to create the best Printed Circuit Boards. Other substandard circuit board design software doesn’t even include these powerful features, forcing you to work with a third-party program to finish your high-speed designs.
Other important design tasks in aerospace PCB design include ensuring power integrity, creating compliant component models, and procuring components from compliant suppliers. High-speed design tasks will require software with differential pair routing tools, power and ground plane arrangement features, and tools for designing vias. Altium Designer includes these tools as standard features and as add-ons that are accessible within a single program.
- Using the right PCB design software takes layout, simulation, and routing tools specifically engineered for high-speed design.Learn more about high-speed design in Altium Designer.
- DFM is an important requirement for meeting electronics standards for aerospace PCBs. Altium Designer makes it easy to implement these critical processes into your workflow.Learn more about implementing DFM in Altium Designer.
- Sourcing your components within FAR and ITAR regulations take supply chain and obsolescence management tools that integrate directly with your design software.Learn more about real-time supply chain management in Altium Designer.
Any aerospace electronics engineer or defense systems designer working on high-speed circuit boards for aerospace systems can rest assured that they have the capabilities to meet critical design requirements when they work within an integrated design environment. Altium Designer is the only PCB design platform for aerospace high speed PCB design that runs on a single rules-driven design engine. You’ll be able to define the design rules and layout feature requirements you need for your designs to meet important reliability and quality standards.
If you’ve never worked in an integrated design environment, Altium gives you the resources you need to get started as soon as you install the program. The AltiumLive forum, design tutorials, webinars, podcasts with design experts, and an extensive knowledge base are at your fingertips. You’ll have access to all the resources you need to be successful.
Aerospace high-speed PCB design is much easier when you have all the tools you need at your fingertips in a single design platform. The rules-driven design engine allows you to implement critical reliability and manufacturability standards as design rules. The layout tools then check these choices as you design. No other design platform offers this level of productivity within a single interface. Only Altium Designer gives you access to all this and more.