How Your CAD Tools Can Make or Break Your Next PCB
CAD tools are the new cornerstone of PCB design. Applications that require high speed signaling and high pin density components require CAD tools that offer more advanced routing features and that can interface with your design rules. Your productivity stays high when your CAD tools are integrated with more advanced design features and your other design tools, and you can quickly design PCBs for advanced applications.
TOPICS IN THIS SOLUTION
A PCB design platform that includes the best CAD tools for schematics and layouts.
If you’ve been active in the PCB design industry for a long period of time, then you recall a time when electronic schematics and circuit diagrams were drawn out on paper. Nowadays, your world-changing electronic device can’t become tangible until you build your electronics schematic and layout your PCB with CAD tools.
The old way of designing PCBs is unlikely to come back anytime soon, and digital CAD tools are the new cornerstone in PCB design. You’ll need these tools to design your schematic and transfer your design into a PCB layout. You can then place components and route connections between them. As more tools get added to PCB design software, your CAD tools will be integrated further with these other features going into the future.
CAD tools in your PCB design software are about more than just placing component on a board outline. CAD tools have become a portal to accessing more advanced layout features. Excellent CAD tools can interface with automated interactive routing tools, simulation tools, and tools for generating manufacturer deliverables. A great CAD module forms the foundation for designing your next PCB, regardless of the application.
PCB CAD tools should not be limited to component layout in 2D board designs. Working with more advanced board configurations like rigid-flex design takes CAD tools that link multiple boards into a single device. The best CAD tools create a link between multiple layers on your board, allowing routing through vias and within the inner layers. Modern CAD tools give you a full view of your device and allow you to approach your design holistically.
CAD Software: Beyond Schematic and Layout
As CAD tools continue to interface with more advanced design features, they become even more important for ensuring that your design will meet your functional requirements. The full layout of components on your PCB should feed directly into your simulation and analysis tools, allowing them to access information directly from your CAD design. Accurate PCB layouts help ensure that your manufacturer can build your board properly on the first production run, preventing fabrication delays and even redesigns.
- Modern PCB design takes the latest and greatest CAD tools. The newest tools in PCB design software improve your productivity and enhance functionality.
Learn more about the role of CAD software in modern PCB design.
- CAD tools in your PCB design software are key to ensuring that your manufacturer can build your PCB correctly.
See how your CAD tools can help you stay within manufacturing guidelines.
- 3D visualization of your PCB used to require external MCAD modules. Now, integration between ECAD and MCAD makes 3D design in a single interface a reality.
See how ECAD/MCAD integration brings PCB design into a new era.
Multiple CAD tools in Altium Designer
An excellent CAD suite doesn’t limit you to building circuit diagrams and arranging components. The best CAD software for PCB design is adaptable and interfaces with specialized design features. Using CAD tools to design for more advanced applications requires that these tools interface with more advanced design features. Design rules for your specific application, data for simulations, power delivery analysis, and automated routing features help you design your PCB quickly while meeting your functional requirements.
Furthermore, you won’t want to settle with a tool that leaves your PCB layout in an island, separated from the rest of your design files. A true PCB editor will keep your PCB footprint well integrated throughout any design stage, ensuring that your traces and parts remain clear on your circuit and that any output file can get easily delivered to any team member.
CAD Tools and Routing Features
CAD tools specifically built for designing PCBs should interface with more advanced features, such as automated routing, design rule verification, and simulation tools. Your CAD software should expedite routing with dense signal nets, saving you time while routing components like a BGA or other high pin density components. Precise routing with your CAD tools within a rules-driven environment ensures that your device can be produced correctly and will meet your technical specifications.
- Hierarchical design is a great way to save time building complex schematics and allows you to reuse old schematics in new designs.
- Newer PCBs with high pin density components typically use a BGA that requires a fanout strategy. Your CAD tools should make it easy to implement your intended fanout strategy.
Learn more about using CAD tools for BGA fanout routing.
- Once you are ready to begin production, your CAD tools should allow you to panelize your board and deliver a full design to your manufacturer.
Learn more about using CAD tools for panelization.
Moving between schematic and 3D design in Altium Designer
As PCB design software offers more capabilities to designers and engineers, CAD tools can no longer sit separated from simulation, visualization, and manufacturer deliverable generation tools. The new PCB design paradigm unifies your design tools in a single environment, keeping your productivity high and allowing you to seamlessly manage your design data.
CAD tools in this environment are design to interface with more advanced features. For example, your CAD tools can be used for more than just arranging components in your layout. You can automatically route traces around your PCB, perform pin and part swapping, and check your routing specifications against your design rules. Working with unified design software instead of separated design modules ensures that your PCB meets the goals of your design.
Altium Designer: Unifying Design, One PCB at a Time
When your design features are integrated in a single environment, your CAD tools are built to interface with more advanced design features, making your tools adaptable for any design application. Keeping all your capabilities in a single software program lets you move through the entire design process efficiently. Data from your CAD tools feeds directly into your simulation and analysis features, helping you verify your device functionality and allowing you to diagnose problems before you begin production.
- Altium Designer’s core engine is heavily driven by design rules. These rules apply throughout the design process and help ensure that your designs will meet your functional specifications.
See how design rules interface with the schematic CAD editor in Altium Designer.
- Altium Designer is the only PCB design package that has integrated ECAD and MCAD capabilities into a single software platform.
Learn more about ECAD/MCAD integration in Altium Designer.
- The CAD layout tools in Altium Designer interface with the rest of your design and editing tools, and making changes during design is simple.
Learn more about global editing in Altium Designer.
Working with an integrated design platform means that your CAD tools are about more than just drafting. Your CAD tools integrate with more advanced design features that help you expedite the design process and improve your productivity. You won’t be blocked by paywalls and separated design programs when you work with Altium Designer.
Altium will be there with resources to help you overcome your design roadblocks. You’ll have access to the AltiumLive forum, e-books, webinars, podcasts from PCB experts, and a growing knowledge base. Altium makes sure you aren’t left alone during your design journey and will help guide you to success.
Creating accurate schematics and layouts for your PCB takes the CAD tools found in a great PCB design software package like Altium Designer. With Altium Designer, your design tools are built for compatibility and are integrated in a single design environment. If you’re tired of working with multiple CAD modules and you want to start working with the best PCB design software, then Altium Designer is just what you need.