If You’re Wondering How to Make PCBs, Look No Further Than Altium Designer
Designing a PCB for first-pass production assemblies requires powerful tools. Powerful PCB design tools incorporate 3D board outline and floor planning, layer stackup management for power planes and sensitive signals, and impedance calculators for microstrip and stripline.
TOPICS IN THIS SOLUTION
Making PCBs has never been easier with Altium Designer’s excellent software.
PCB design ready for fabrication
Printed circuit boards are designed to hold the wires that connect components in printed circuit assemblies. Wires and components use electricity to make circuits operate devices. Wires require volume for connecting components across space. Also, wires are susceptible to noise that corrupts signal integrity. Designing a PCB takes consideration of volume and of wires’ physical characteristics to build printed circuit assemblies.
First to consider when designing a PCB is its floorplan. Floorplan occurs within the given board outline. Circuit blocks holding components on the final assembly are given areas within the board outline. When location of components is finalized, evaluation of number and type of nets are analyzed for placement requirements on the PCB for signal integrity. Signal integrity informs number of layers needed in the board stackup. Once board outline, floorplan, and stackup are defined, the PCB is ready for routing.
Routing continues the PCB design by running wires between components along layers of the stackup. Considerations for trace terminations and impedance analysis are performed. Current density for high power traces is analyzed to choose custom copper thickness where needed. Location of traces to best decouple noise transients joins the routing analysis. Traces are carefully placed over continuous ground planes to prevent noise-producing loops.
The graphical design of a PCB traces wires that connect components to make intended circuits in a printed circuit assembly. PCB design must keep in mind physical characteristics of energized wires while the circuit assembly operates. Physical characteristics of energized wires, and their effect on components, includes current densities, impedance control, and wire terminations.
When designing your circuit board, whether that means traces, ground plane, copper, vias and holes, pads, pins or just test points, you’ll make to make sure you have the board design software to carry you through. You wouldn’t want to get to PCB manufacturing with a design file that looks like swiss cheese - full of impossible to follow holes and difficult-to-navigate component layouts.
Import .STEP files to visualize components in 3D
Use Energized Wire Characteristics to Inform Design of your PCB
Use dimensional and electrical characteristics to design placement of wires in the layout considerations with describing how to design PCBs. Consider final assembly outline for both the board and the components extending above, and below, the board. Add footprints for components and connect components sharing the same wire together. Identify sensitive signals and place the wires to mitigate noise. Ensure continuous ground planes below high frequency signals and select termination locations at the origin of noise you seek to shunt to ground.
- PCB design uses mechanical constraints for keepout and component placement.
- Locate components and sensitive signals to incorporate in PCB design.
- Consider current density when designing power planes into the layout.
Electronic design automation (EDA) tools facilitate graphical placement of wires onto your PCB. Wires are known as nets within the tools and the tools generate netlists to represent artwork. Artwork is used by fabrication houses to make the PCB design. Components are added to the PCB design to make the final assembly. The final assembly incorporates mechanical dimensioning and electrical design considerations for current density, impedance control, and signal termination.
Whether it’s planning out the components on your circuit board, or designating solder and solder mask locations with your Gerber files, it is best you have strong design software backing you up. Consider a PCB editor that has the capabilities to map any of your holes, pins, pads, or buried vias seamlessly and integrate them into your parts ordering and product manufacturing process.
Configure power planes with Polygon Pour Manager
Use EDA Tools to Take Schematic Capture Into PCB Layout Design
Use the tools to assign mechanical and electrical properties to the nets. Current technology allows import and export of mechanical modeling .STEP formats. Direct import of .STEP files allows PCB layout tools to incorporate board outline and keepout areas before laying the nets. Initial placement of components from the schematic allows 3D modeling with the .STEP files. PCB floorplanning follows initial component placement and drives routing of the nets for signal integrity. Signal integrity includes evaluation of current densities, impedance considerations of nets, and component placement for best-practice termination techniques.
- Take the first step by dimensioning your PCB.
- Think about placement of power planes before tracing nets.
- Utilize an EDA tool that supports PCB design needs.
Producing a printed circuit assembly requires an efficient way to connect components on a PCB. Altium’s unified environment facilitates PCB design for tracing nets in graphical form within a mechanical outline. Wires placed on the schematic automatically port over to the layout environment so no information is lost about the circuit. Directives to define sensitive circuits contained within the schematic are ported to the PCB layout environment. With current densities and impedance control defined, the PCB design may move forward for routing.
Your board deserves to have the best software illustrating copper layer, traces, and components around. Don’t settle for software that can’t contend with your demand for traces, vias, pads, and components. Work in Altium Designer’s unified design environment to ensure that all your boards are designed as planned with every layer intact.
Analyze current densities vs copper thickness with PDN simulator
Use Altium Designer Videos to Apply Features for PCB Design
A PCB design is realized with Altium’s unified environment that incorporates net definitions from the schematic. No more messy traces. Tools within PCB layout allow interface with mechanical modeling from .STEP files in mechanical design tools. Editors for incorporating floor planning, layer stack, stripline and microstrip, impedance control, current density measurements, and placement of power planes is at your fingertips.
- Design your PCB from the originating Schematic.
- Work with your mechanical engineer to dimension your PCB design.
- Specify copper for power planes and nets into your PCB design
- Use interactive autoroute to incorporate net classes into your PCB design
Get the best EDA tool to support your circuit design and get your wires designed into the PCB with best intent. Using concurrent ECAD/MCAD tools with import and export of .STEP files. Working with .STEP files facilities board outline and keepouts early in PCB design. Power plane layers are defined and set in the Layer Stack Manager. Within the Layer Stack Manager resides the Impedance calculator for treating sensitive signals and the traces along either microstrip or stripline. When current densities are established the PDN Analyzer simulates viability of copper thicknesses to support temperatures. Using Altium Designer’s suite of unified tools ignites the design cycle by using Schematic directives to inform PCB layout and design.