Components form the building blocks of our Printed Board designs, and making the right component selections can make or break a project’s budget. Are you doing everything you can to ensure that your design is both maintained and updated on a regular basis? More importantly, how are you ensuring that only approved, ready-to-use components are being used in your current PCB designs? Read on as we reveal the 6 things you need to have in your team’s PCB design to ensure a successful printed design process.
What better way to manage the tens of thousands of components being used by your design team than with a centralized solution? By managing all of your component data in a centralized PCB library, it’s easy to share approved, ready-to-use components with your entire design team without worrying about the use of obsolete PCB components slipping through the cracks.
Everyone on your schematic capture design team can benefit from a centralized component management solution, even those not directly involved in the day-to-day design process. The Altium Designer PCB library provides component approvals, and lifecycle status information to your entire team right when they need it.
There are a few best practices to follow when setting up a centralized PCB library source of integrated data, including:
Making your own components can really start to drain hours from your day. With a typical component taking 15 minutes to create, it can really add up when your design team needs an entire at their disposal. Thankfully with Altium Designer® there’s already 300,000 ready-to-use components in the PCB library. Free design content from Altium Content will get you up and running with some of the most commonly used printed board components needed for your design.
Each component in our PCB library starter includes a few standard items that are integrated through computer-aided design, and should also be included with any component you create:
How many project budgets have you overblown simply because you didn’t have access to timely and relevant data? It’s not easy to make informed decisions when you aren’t connected to the outside world. With real-time supplier links in Altium Designer, the PCB library has a direct connection to major suppliers, all providing instantaneous updates on the latest pricing and availability data for components so you can make the most informed and price-conscious part selections. When you add the Altium Designer into the mix, you can connect all your engineers to supply chain information at once without having to connect everyone individually. That way your PCB layout process stays on schedule and experiences fewer human errors.
Choosing a supplier for each part can be tricky, especially considering the amount of information provided by each vendor. There are a few key categories to watch for when choosing a part supplier for your integrated library (or in general), including:
It's not uncommon for the CAD Librarian to take awhile updating on a much-needed component for your current PCB design. The PCB library in Altium Designer allows you to intelligently connect components, symbols, and footprints together. When symbols or footprints are updated in Altium Designer by your CAD Librarians, designers can automatically be notified in Altium Designer to quickly sync component data.
In Altium Designer, the Item Manager provides a clear picture of exactly where and when components need to be updated throughout your designs. Just like management, there are a few best practices that will keep your designs up to date, including:
Probably the biggest time sink for designers is quickly creating an accurate of footprints for their printed board. This process generally involves finding dozens or hundreds of datasheets from different component manufacturers, and gaining enough information from those to make quality footprints. But what about all the other information not included in those datasheets? What about following the best design practices and international standards like those from IPC?
The IPC-Compliant Footprint Wizard cuts out a huge amount of time from footprint creation, and accounts for all the best practice and industry standard details of footprint design. Even if a datasheet only includes the minimum dimensioning and parametric information, the wizard fills in the rest based on proven and standardized component package information.
It’s good design practice to include a few key items in each footprint, and these are included when generating from the IPC-Compliant Footprint Wizard:
Integrated libraries are truly a great asset in the PCB design process, and the prospect of losing those when moving to a new PCB layout design tool is not very appealing. Altium Designer includes importers for your old PCB design tools such as PADS®, xDxDesigner® and EAGLE™, ensuring that transitioning to our design platform is a seamless process. All schematic symbol, PCB footprint, and parametric information is included, so you can pick up right where you left off with your libraries.
Use these best practices when setting up your libraries before importing them to Altium Designer:
That covers the 6 things you need to have in your team’s PCB design. Have a suggestion or strategy on how you can make a design even better? Let us know in the comments!
PADS® and xDxDesigner® are trademarks of Mentor Graphics Corporation.
EAGLE™ is a trademark of CadSoft Computer GmbH.