How to Improve Your PCB Documentation Process

December 7, 2016 Daniel Fernsebner

PCB documentation process

 

Nearly every facet of electronics design has advanced with more effective and automated technology except for the documentation process - until now. Read on to learn how to eliminate the stress of manual PCB documentation with new technologies in Altium Designer.

The evolution of the PCB design has progressed considerably since the days of light tables, tape and Mylar. The 80s introduced the first PCB design software, making a new era in design-authoring capability and technology. Since then there has been a rise, fall, and consolidation of EDA companies; but one thing that has remained constant is the advancement of technologies that aid designers in the progressive challenges of PCB design. What kind of advancements are we seeing for the PCB documentation process though? Let’s take a look.

PCB Documentation Process: A Necessary Evil

As much as we hate it, PCB design documentation is a necessary evil. It takes what we’ve captured and translates it into a realizable working device. We often forget the amount of time we spend documenting our designs. Just one design can include design fabrication drawing and notes, assembly drawing and process steps, PCB rework instructions, layer stackup information, drill details, Bill of Materials, and more.

 

pcb-documentation-process-stress

 

Every design review and re-spin warrant these documents be recreated reflecting the most recent version of your creation. For a given design, this can easily translate into double-digit documentation sets representing many lost hours that could be better spent on other tasks. So why is it that the technology to automate the documentation workflow has never been implemented into PCB design tools? Well, now it has.

A New Age of Documentation

Altium Designer has introduced a new method for documentation that restructures the entire concept of your PCB documentation workflow with powerful automation technology built into your design environment with Draftsman®.

Draftsman completely eliminates the manual process of documentation by automatically creating the drawing document based on the design data in your PCB document. The placement of objects is intuitive and allows the designer to quickly place and arrange based on company requirements and documentation type. Placing any drawing object auto-generates the view based on the source PCB file to which the Draftsman document is linked. Making common document objects available to the designer allows you to quickly create any drawing.

 

draftsman-altium-designer

 

What makes Draftsman unique and where the real magic happens is the data synchronization between the PCB document and the Draftsman document. That way, you can spend less time making slight edits to your documentation and more time fine-tuning your designs.

 

draftsman-pcb-documentation

 

Looking for ways to accelerate your documentation workflow? Download our free white paper The New Age of PCB Documentation to learn more about how Draftsman® can help improve your PCB documentation process.

 
 

 

About the Author

Daniel Fernsebner

Global Head of Technical Marketing at Altium with nearly 20 years experience in the EDA Industry.

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