Free Trials

Download a free trial to find out which Altium software best suits your needs

How to Buy

Contact your local sales office to get started on improving your design environment


Download the latest in PCB design and EDA software

  • Altium Designer

    Complete Environment for Schematic + Layout

  • CircuitStudio

    Entry Level, Professional PCB Design Tool

  • CircuitMaker

    Community Based PCB Design Tool


    Agile PCB Design For Teams

  • Altium 365

    Connecting PCB Design to the Manufacturing Floor

  • Altium Concord Pro

    Complete Solution for Library Management

  • Octopart

    Extensive, Easy-to-Use Component Database

  • PDN Analyzer

    Natural and Effortless Power Distribution Network Analysis

  • See All Extensions

    World-Renowned Technology for Embedded Systems Development

  • Live Courses

    Learn best practices with instructional training available worldwide

  • On-Demand Courses

    Gain comprehensive knowledge without leaving your home or office

  • Altium 365 Viewer

    View & Share electronic designs in your browser

  • Altium Designer 20

    The most powerful, modern and easy-to-use PCB design tool for professional use


    Annual PCB Design Summit

    • Forum

      Where Altium users and enthusiasts can interact with each other

    • Blog

      Our blog about things that interest us and hopefully you too

    • Ideas

      Submit ideas and vote for new features you want in Altium tools

    • Bug Crunch

      Help make the software better by submitting bugs and voting on what's important

    • Wall

      A stream of events on AltiumLive you follow by participating in or subscribing to

    • Beta Program

      Information about participating in our Beta program and getting early access to Altium tools

    All Resources

    Explore the latest content from blog posts to social media and technical white papers gathered together for your convenience


    Take a look at what download options are available to best suit your needs

    How to Buy

    Contact your local sales office to get started improving your design environment

    • Documentation

      The documentation area is where you can find extensive, versioned information about our software online, for free.

    • Training & Events

      View the schedule and register for training events all around the world and online

    • Design Content

      Browse our vast library of free design content including components, templates and reference designs

    • Webinars

      Attend a live webinar online or get instant access to our on demand series of webinars

    • Support

      Get your questions answered with our variety of direct support and self-service options

    • Technical Papers

      Stay up to date with the latest technology and industry trends with our complete collection of technical white papers.

    • Video Library

      Quick and to-the-point video tutorials to get you started with Altium Designer

    AutoRouter and Massive Potential for Routing Ease

    Altium Designer
    |  February 11, 2019

    Cartoon of a tent trailer in routing ease

    I once owned a little pop-up tent trailer, and hooking it up to my car was a very involved process. My wife would use a combination of hand signals and shouted instructions to guide me in as I moved the car back and forth in order to position the hitch perfectly under the trailer coupler. One day my father in-law-was helping me and I started my lengthy explanation to him of the hitching process. Without saying a word he simply reached down, picked up the trailer coupler, and moved it over and placed it on the car hitch. It never occurred to me that it could be that simple.

    I may be the only guy who couldn’t figure out how to easily hook up his tent-trailer, but I’m sure that all of us have experienced something like this before. Another lesson that I’ve had to learn over the years is how the auto routing tools in some PCB design systems have an enormous potential for routing ease than the tools that you may already be using. Some people will stay with older outdated tools instead of looking for a better solution simply because that’s the way they’ve always done it. If this sounds familiar, keep reading and I’ll show you how I solved this particular pain in my own PCB design career.


    Older Tools Have Older Trace Routing Functionality

    There are a lot of PCB design tools in use today that have been around for a long time. If those tools have been updated, then they will have the usual incremental improvements over time. But often those tools are not updated. Their users have settled into a certain pattern of working, and for financial reasons or unwilling to change, that is what they stick with. In the same way that I was used to repetitions movements of my car in order to hook it up to the trailer, many PCB designers just want to stick with what they are used to.

    Even if the design tools have been updated though, you still have routing functionality that has been around for a long time. Modern auto routers are often created from the ground up to leverage new software technology making them faster and more efficient. In some cases, completely new auto routing technologies are created that require a whole new tool. Think about tasks such as automatically routing differential pair traces, measured lines, or tuned traces. Those designers that simply update their existing software will never get to use the new routing software that has been created to better handle tasks like these.

    Screenshot of AD18 tuned routing in routing ease

    Advanced routing tasks such as diff pairs and tuned routing shouldn’t be a pain


    With Some Tools, Using a Third Party Auto Router is the Only Solution

    While trying to route today’s challenging designs using older routing technology can be frustrating, an even worse pain is having to use a third party auto routing solution. Unfortunately, though, many older circuit board design systems don’t have an accompanying auto router. This means that the only recourse for the PCB designer is to spend additional money on another design tool just for advanced auto routing.

    Using a third party routing solution can create a lot of problems to your design department:

    • The initial cost of the third party routing tool.
    • The regular maintenance costs of keep this tool up-to-date.
    • Learning how best to use this new tool.
    • Setting up the configuration files for the new tool.
    • Managing the data transfers from your design system to the new tool, and then back again.
    • Re-learning how best to use this new tool when you haven’t used it in a while.

    Using a third party auto routing solution can have a lot of hidden pain associated with it that the user may not initially be aware of.

    Screenshot of AD18 import wizard in routing ease

    Moving from other design tools into Altium Designer is easily handled with the import wizard


    You Need a PCB Design System with Embedded Technology for Routing Ease

    The solution that we found that worked best for us was to move up to using Altium Designer® for all of our PCB design work. Altium Designer features a unified design environment with all the tools you need included. From work and schematic capture to PCB layout and final output files, everything you need for design is all within Altium . Additionally, there are circuit simulators, signal integrity tools, a power distribution , advanced BOM tools and much more. You also have, as we have been talking about, some superior PCB routing tools.

    Altium ’s regular intelligent interactive routing tools are constantly being improved and updated, and there are a whole host of diff pair and high-speed routing tools as well. There are also the trace glossing and clean-up tools that you would expect, and different partial auto routing and full batch auto routing tools as well. Recently Altium added a new user-guided interactive router called “Active Route” to its suite of tools. And with the online connection to Altium that each user has available, the design tools are regularly updated so that you have the latest and greatest software working for you at all times.

    Altium is advanced PCB design software with many different routing and auto-routing tools built into it for your routing ease. Moving over from other design tools such as OrCAD is a simple process as well with Altium ’s built-in import wizard functionality.

    Would you like to find out more about how Altium can help ease your pain with modern up-to-date auto routing capabilities? Talk to an expert at Altium.

    About Author

    About Author

    PCB Design Tools for Electronics Design and DFM. Information for EDA Leaders.

    most recent articles

    Back to Home