Time-Saving Technologies for Your PCB Routing Workflow

October 27, 2016 Charles Pfeil



Whether you’re new to electronics design or have thirty years under your belt, most engineers agree: interactive routing is the most challenging and tedious task in the PCB design process. Experienced designers enjoy the challenge, applying their creative puzzle-solving talents to win the many battles and ultimately the war. Designers who are new to the task and those who would rather focus on other aspects of design wind up struggling in execution. Yet, everyone eventually gets weary of the tedium.

Some of the most common routing challenges include managing where the routes are placed, ordering escapes out of pin/via arrays, making routing more efficient, and fulfilling high speed and fabrication concerns. Imagine how much more you could accomplish if routing your board took minutes instead of hours. What if you could route your entire board more efficiently while saving precious time and resources?

High-Performance, Guided PCB Routing Technology

ActiveRoute for Altium Designer® is an interactive routing method that applies high levels of user-controlled automation while producing high-quality results in a very short time. The purpose of ActiveRoute is to diminish the challenge of routing, eliminate the tedium, and increase productivity significantly.




In the context of interactive routing tools, one unique aspect of ActiveRoute is that it can route on multiple layers simultaneously. This is important to obtain efficient routing, to follow the designer’s planning and to achieve fast performance.

By default, if no layers are chosen in the ActiveRoute panel, the routing occurs on just the active layer. However, if multiple layers are chosen in the panel, ActiveRoute will distribute the routes fairly evenly across those layers.


Multiple Layers Routed Simultaneously. Layer 1 (Green) Has 48 Routes & Layer 4 (Blue) Has 44.


Since ActiveRoute can perform over multiple layers, when there is any difficulty routing a particular connection on one layer, it can immediately try it on one of the other layers. The result is that the route will be more direct. Plus, time will not be wasted trying it over and over on the same layer only to complete it with excessive meandering or simply failing.

The Future of PCB Routing

Traditionally, the routing process requires considerable time and effort from even the most experienced designers. ActiveRoute changes the paradigm for interactive routing by enabling the user to significantly accelerate their workflow by quickly routing multiple layers with plenty of time to spare for fine tuning.

Interested to find out more about ActiveRoute in Altium Designer 17? Download the free technical white paper ActiveRoute in Altium Designer and see what else is new in Altium Designer 17 today.


About the Author

Charles Pfeil


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