Work at Peak PCB Design Efficiency with Altium Designer

Zachariah Peterson
|  Created: October 5, 2020
Work at Peak PCB Design Efficiency with Altium Designer

Are you unnecessarily repeating steps that are slowing your design workflow down? Many designers feel the pressure of continuous product deliveries and rapid design cycles, and design engineers need tools to maintain PCB design efficiency. The circuit design process doesn’t need to be repetitive or tedious when you use the right printed circuit design tools. Altium Designer includes powerful design and layout features alongside manufacturing tools and report generators, helping you stay efficient and complete designs on time.


The best PCB design software for professional printed circuit designers.

Whenever you can reuse existing resources, you can save time and cost involved in creating new products. Many design teams reuse older designs, and sometimes these designs are decades old. These older designs may use outdated technology, but they still fit into standardized products, such as backplanes. If you have design tools that let you quickly create and copy project templates and other data, you can stay productive and reduce your total design time. Here’s how Altium Designer aids design reuse and ensures PCB design efficiency.

Challenges in Design Reuse and Data Management

The challenges involved in design reuse span from poor design tools to incoherent data management processes. Some design tools include the features needed to quickly reuse project data, but design data becomes unreadable if a precise file management system is not implemented. Similarly, some PCB design software isn’t built to allow design reuse; it doesn’t allow users to create PCB project templates, reusable circuit blocks, or multi-channel schematic diagram files for simple data reuse.

Altium Designer is Built for Design Reuse

Altium Designer is unique in that it supports project templates and reusable circuit blocks through its unified design environment. Storing older design data as a project layout template provides design reuse and allows access to all project files from a single location. In addition, the CAD features in Altium Designer help you create reusable design snippets, proprietary components, and schematic sheets for new projects. The unified design environment then links these elements together as you add them to your new projects.

Altium Designer design reuse with PCB project templates

Daughterboard creation from PCB project templates in Altium Designer.

PCB Design Productivity with Layout Templates and Design Reuse

Today’s electronics engineers are under constant pressure to finish projects on increasingly shorter product schedules. Designs are always becoming more complex, and more complex designs are more difficult to modify once you need to create a variant. With all the complexities of PCB design, organizations continue to seek methods for improving productivity.

While “design reuse” has become an industry catch-phrase, design reuse is quite easy when you create and use project templates. Creating a project template is as simple as making a copy of an existing design, clearing out the application-specific components, and saving a copy as a blank project. Designers can then copy this design template as a new project and begin creating a variant for their designs.

How Printed Circuit Design Tools Aid Design Reuse

Design reuse helps designers stay productive, but it can be an unwieldy process when used with the wrong circuit board design software. Your design tools need to support reusable circuit blocks in your layout to help quickly place repeated sections in your PCB layout. When you use hierarchical multi-channel schematic design tools, you can link repeated circuit blocks together into complex systems. These design features are also present alongside schematic capture features in Altium Designer, which helps you stay productive.

Altium Designer and design reuse

Use Altium Designer to quickly create project variants for your projects.

Stay Productive with Unified Design Tools

Every project you create in Altium Designer will include a complete set of design documents that can be used to help you prepare for manufacturing and run important simulations. By placing everything in a rules-driven design interface, your design tools can work together from the same dataset to help you stay productive.

Creating a new project in Altium Designer involves the use of a Project Wizard. The Project Wizard allows you to select from default project examples, or you can create your own template from scratch. These template features help you stay highly productive throughout your design process. When combined with the hierarchical multi-channel schematic design features and modular circuit blocks in your PCB layout tools, you’ll design at top productivity with Altium Designer.

Altium Designer Offers the Only Unified Design Environment

When you use Altium Designer, you’ll have a complete package of printed circuit design tools to help you stay productive. Project templates help you get started quickly and reuse existing designs as new project variants. The complete set of CAD tools help you modify everything from trace layouts to ground plane placement in your circuit board. If you’re tired of working in separate design programs for design, manufacturing, and simulation, try using Altium Designer’s unified environment.

Screenshot of Altium Designer’s unified environment

The unified design environment in Altium Designer helps you stay productive with integrated circuit design features and PCB project example templates for design reuse.

By placing everything you need for printed circuit design in a single program, Altium Designer facilitates all aspects of design reuse and helps you stay productive. Editing a project template is as easy as creating a blank project, and your layout templates can be reused across any number of variants.

Altium Designer on Altium 365 delivers an unprecedented amount of integration to the electronics industry until now relegated to the world of software development, allowing designers to work from home and reach unprecedented levels of efficiency.

We have only scratched the surface of what is possible to do with Altium Designer on Altium 365. You can check the product page for a more in-depth feature description or one of the On-Demand Webinars.

About Author

About Author

Zachariah Peterson has an extensive technical background in academia and industry. He currently provides research, design, and marketing services to companies in the electronics industry. Prior to working in the PCB industry, he taught at Portland State University and conducted research on random laser theory, materials, and stability. His background in scientific research spans topics in nanoparticle lasers, electronic and optoelectronic semiconductor devices, environmental sensors, and stochastics. His work has been published in over a dozen peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, and he has written 2000+ technical articles on PCB design for a number of companies. He is a member of IEEE Photonics Society, IEEE Electronics Packaging Society, American Physical Society, and the Printed Circuit Engineering Association (PCEA). He previously served as a voting member on the INCITS Quantum Computing Technical Advisory Committee working on technical standards for quantum electronics, and he currently serves on the IEEE P3186 Working Group focused on Port Interface Representing Photonic Signals Using SPICE-class Circuit Simulators.

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