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Who wants to send their masterfully designed PCB to their fabricator, only to be told that the board is un-manufacturable? This can happen for a number of reasons, including outdated supplier data, incomplete documentation, improper panelization schemes, or a lack of fabrication documentation. Instead of relying on separate software programs to design your PCB and generate individual deliverables, you need an integrated software platform that includes all the deliverable generation tools demanded by industry.
TOPICS IN THIS SOLUTION
A PCB design suite that guides you from design to fabrication.
It’s understandable that designers don’t have time to spend planning production and assembly steps. If you’re a designer, your time is better spent improving your design and building the best possible product. Using an integrated PCB design software package to generate manufacturing outputs from your design saves time when planning for manufacturing.
If you’ve ever sent a PCB documentation and fabrication to a manufacturer, you know that your manufacturer requires several pieces of documentation. The old way of documenting device changes and building deliverables for your manufacturer required manually preparing documents or using specialized programs to generate these outputs.
Newer design platforms can generate these deliverables for you, saving you a serious amount of time. This also presents manufacturing and assembly instructions to your fabricator in a standardized format, reducing the chances for errors and helping everyone stay within budget.
The ultimate goal in product development is to prepare your device for manufacturing and release to the market. PCB design is no different, and moving to the fabrication phase successfully takes design software that lets you do more than just layout your PCB. Taking your PCB to fabrication and ultimately to market requires delivering specific documentation to your manufacturer.
All of your manufacturer deliverables need to be generated directly from the information in your PCB layout. Your report generation tools needs to interface directly with your layout and generate a bill of materials, Gerber or Excellon files, supplier information, and CAD documents. All of this will help your manufacturer build a product that meets your technical requirements with minimal headaches along the way.
With so many design aspects to specify in your documentation, your design software can speed up the documentation process when it interfaces directly with your bill of materials, Gerber or Excellon file generation tools, and other documentation tools. Most design platforms force you to work with an external module for generating these critical deliverables, if they include these functions at all.
Component and lifecycle management is also critical for generating complete and accurate deliverables for your manufacturer. When you go to update an old design or decide to produce a new run of boards, your manufacturer needs up-to-date supplier information for your components. This helps prevent manufacturing and delivery delays and, ultimately, saves your organization money.
Panelization editor in Altium Designer
Building deliverables for your manufacturer takes design software that can communicate. We’re not talking about a user interface, your design programs need to access information from your layout, component library, layer stack manager, and a host of other sources. When you work with adaptable design software, communication between programs leads to improved productivity so that you can spend more time designing your PCB.
PCB manufacturing, after all, requires the right information to get your circuit board to being a printed circuit. As a PCB designer, you’ll have to make sure that accurate information is integrated from schematic to printed circuit layout, to PCB assembly and solder mask application. Integration of data within the software will ensure that nothing gets lost in translation and your output files can be accurate and secure.
Your manufacturer will need your bill of materials and all your other deliverables in a standardized format. This includes your assembly and drill files in a standardized file format. While there are tools online that can generate each of these deliverables on their own, a great PCB design software package allows you to generate all your manufacturing documentation at once. Keep your documentation standardized and simplified.
CAD and Gerber file outputs in Altium Designer
Generating the complete package of manufacturing outputs takes generation software that can read your component information, CAD layout, and panelization instructions with ease. The old design paradigm forces you to work with each of these features in separate modules, and component management tools were nearly nonexistent.
With advent of unified design, all the tools you need to move to manufacturing without a hitch are all contained in a single design interface. When your tools are designed within a unified model, they are explicitly designed to work together. Generating manufacturing outputs from your layout and component data is seamless when these tools are unified with your bill of materials generation tools.
Only Altium Designer gives you access to every design, data management, component sourcing, and deliverable generation tool, and all within a single design interface. Other PCB design software programs segregate these features into separate programs, knowing that you will be forced to purchase extra features as addons.
Your component libraries will interface directly with your bill of materials generator and your design tools simultaneously. Your sourcing information will be automatically imported into your bill of materials, including suitable replacement components. Your Gerber files can be generated directly from your panelization tool, producing accurate layouts for every layer in your board.
If it’s your first time designing a PCB for high volume production, you won’t be left out in the cold. Altium wants you to be successful and provides you with the resources you need. Altium’s thorough knowledge base, webinars provided by industry experts, and the AltiumLive forum are there to offer guidance on generating the top quality manufacturing outputs.
If you need access to the best design tools that help you move all the way to production, then you need Altium Designer. Altium Designer is the only PCB design suite that contains all the tools you need to design your PCB and generate documentation for your manufacturer in a single package. You can move through the entire design process and reach the fabrication stage successfully, and all within a single design environment.