Your PCB design is like a novel. The words of that novel are the parts you use. You wouldn’t write a novel without defining the language structure; you need syntax, grammar, organization, and diction. You know everything that you want to place in your design, you just have to define it.
Once you define the parts in your ECAD environment, keeping them all organized in libraries can be a challenge. We tend to focus on the end product of our designs. Printed circuit boards might serve as the backbones of our technology, but the design data that makes them is just as important.
Without the building blocks of verified and approved design data, we’re left with uncertainty during the manufacturing and assembly process. With today’s technology reaching microscopic levels of precision, we can’t afford any uncertainty during the design process. That’s why maintaining data integrity should be at the top of our priority list. To continue to create cutting-edge, innovative technology, we must continue to develop the methods we use to manage our design data.
When was the last time you tried or even heard of a new method for design data management?
Traditional Design Data Management
Let’s be honest, traditional methods for design data management have not evolved at the same rate as the other aspects of the design process. Spreadsheets, shared drives, and manual processes shouldn’t be in the same conversation as data management. The goals of data management aren’t always apparent: organization, traceability, accountability, and reproducibility. In the world of PCBs, a design is only as good as the quality of its libraries.
Poor library management is a leading cause of bad designs because bad data makes it impossible to design an accurate product. With no controlled verification system to track changes and maintain data structures, how are you supposed to trust that the components in your libraries have all of the information needed? Even the best engineers make mistakes, however rare they may be.
Using a data management system outside of your design environment can easily lead to design data mismatch. Plus, who wants to deal with transferring files back and forth between tools? Imagine going through over a year long development cycle and having to do a respin because you’re using the wrong file revisions. If your fabrication and assembly information doesn’t correspond to the correct revision of your PCB design, you are going to get an expensive paperweight instead of the PCB you’ve worked so hard on.
Avoid design data mismatch
Design Data Management System
When you have incongruity between the concept and actuality of your designs, it is impossible to get back the board you’ve been dreaming about. That’s just what you get when using an unstructured design environment with ad hoc documentation. Altium Vault provides a unique method for design data management that is directly available in your design environment. You can let Altium Vault act as your dictionary, encyclopedia, thesaurus, and more by providing you with a unified tool for ECAD data management.
Altium Vault makes design data management a simple process by removing obstacles that hinder consistency of derived content. You have access to and control of all of your verified data during the design process and all the way through release. Altium Vault enables a single source of truth for all ECAD data; bridging the gap between different departments by standardizing design assets, part choices, supplier information, and all the little details that often go unnoticed, so that you can design with trust and release with confidence.
See some of the ways Altium Vault can help you accomplish several time-consuming tasks simultaneously, request your free demo of Altium Vault today.
About the Author
David Haboud is a Product Marketing Engineer at Altium. He studied electrical engineering with an emphasis in computer architecture and hardware/software design at the University of Southern California. David began his career as an embedded software engineer in the aerospace industry and has always strived to make it easier for hardware and software engineers to communicate. During his tenure as an embedded software engineer, he focused on firmware development and data acquisition for auxiliary power units. In his spare time, David hosts and performs in improvisational and stand-up comedy nights in San Diego, California.More Content by David Haboud