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When you’re searching for your next PCB design software package, you have choice of sticking with the old design paradigm, or moving to a new design software architecture. Legacy PCB software companies and free programs all share a common theme: your design features are segregated into different modules and seldom work together properly. Instead of working with separate features and multiple workflows, consider working in a design environment that unifies your design features in a single interface.
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A PCB design suite that unifies design features in a single software platform.
Between free software programs and paid software packages for PCB design, there are a number of options available to get started designing your next PCB. You might be using an older platform that consists of separate design programs, and you’re forced to carefully weave your way through the design process in the hopes of avoiding synchronization errors. Or you might be using a plethora of free programs that each perform a specific function.
Even paid software programs from a single company cannot guarantee perfect integration among design features. At some point, you’ll run into the same problems involved in working with a set of free design programs that were never designed to work together. Between the separated features, disparate workflows, and potential for synchronization errors, you risk losing productivity when working in this environment.
The old guard of PADs PCB design software companies have continued to push design software platforms that aren’t really complete platforms. Most design software platforms package your critical tools in separate modules, forcing you to learn disparate workflows just to complete basic design tasks.
With any PCB layout, you’re going to want to have software you can trust to get components accurately laid out on a board. But not only that, you’ll want to have your designs shift seamlessly and integrate from schematic to board and circuit design to manufacturing output files. Engineers don’t want to have to import any tools, they want their design capabilities at their CAD software fingertips.
Your choice is an integrated design platform. Working with unified design software removes productivity barriers by enforcing a consistent workflow across all your design tools. Instead of using a group of programs with different workflows and design interfaces, your design tools are packaged in a single interface with a consistent workflow. Moving from schematic to layout and checking your device against design rules becomes easy when all of these features are built to work together.
The design process in a large organization takes more than just a set of design tools. Design platforms should be adaptable to your organizational goals and should allow your to implement the best component and data management strategies. Collaboration among design teams becomes easy when all your layout, CAD, simulation, and documentation features are integrated in the same program.
The complete design interface in Altium Designer
In the past, it was possible to get away with designing most PCBs using piecemeal design software. You probably didn’t need every single feature offered by most companies, and you could make due with downloading a free feature to pick up the slack. Now with the necessity of schematic integration with global circuit editing features and parts organization through layout, you’ll want to prioritize a more efficient software to get your circuit printed.
Designing PCBs for modern applications takes a number of features beyond just schematic and layout tools. You’ll likely need advanced analysis tools and design rule management features that will help ensure your device meets its critical technical specifications. With newer devices having unique form factors, 3D visualization and design tools have become the norm rather than the exception. The best design software for modern PCBs should give you access to all of these parts and features in a single platform.
Other Printed Circuit Board design platforms force you to flip back-and-forth between multiple interfaces. What’s worse, you put yourself at risk of hitting a design roadblock when you use other design platforms. You’ll be left returning to the company just to purchase basic design features as add-ons. No one should have to keep returning to a company website just to download features they required to begin with. These addons tend to overlap with each other, leaving you purchasing the same features multiple times.
3D CAD view in Altium Designer
Alt text: Screenshot of the 3D CAD view in Altium Designer
Looking throughout the PCB design software industry, the major players still separate their critical design features into separate modules. This is the way it has always been done, leaving designers to use different workflows and management strategies just to get their boards laid out properly. Only Altium Designer gives you access to every feature you need within a single interface and integrates the entire design process into a single workflow.
So why do other Printed Circuit Board design software platforms separate critical design features into separate modules? Aside from the historical reason, it allows them to upsell you on features that they should have given you from day one. You’ll have to pay extra for standard design features, leaving you feeling like you’ve been bamboozled.
Other platforms claim to give you a unified design experience, but they still force you to switch between multiple modules just to perform basic design tasks. The situation is worse when a software platform does not focus solely on PCB design. Different data flows in each module saps your productivity, leading to slow design starts and lost time due to reworking designs.
Working within a unified design environment means that all your design tools are built to work together, and all your tools are accessible as soon as you install the software. Forget about working with platforms that work under the old design paradigm or the masquerade as unified systems. Only Altium Designer includes all the critical design features you need to completely design your PCB.
Once you start using an integrated design platform, you’ll swear off the old paradigm of using multiple design modules with segmented features and unrecognizable workflows. Only Altium Designer offers all the critical design features required to build your PCBs from start to finish.
Altium wants you to be successful and provides you with the resources you need. You’ll have access to the AltiumLive forum, webinars and podcasts provided by industry experts, and a thorough PCB design knowledge base. You’ll never be left hanging when you work with Altium Designer.
The best design tools will help you maximize productivity, and only Altium Designer gives you all the industry-standard design tools you need in a single package. The integrated design environment in Altium Designer links all your tools together into a single entity. If you’re tired of flipping between modules just to perform simple design tasks, then you need Altium Designer.