How the Best Integrated PCB Libraries Compare Electronic Components to Lower Development Costs

Zachariah Peterson
|  Created: February 23, 2021
How the Best Integrated PCB Libraries Lower Development Costs

With development schedules becoming tighter and technology advancing at an ever faster pace, designers and engineers need tools that help them cut development costs and stay competitive in every way. This means designers need supply chain tools that help them compare electronic component prices and manage their fabrication data in a single program.

Each integrated library helps lower development costs and time by providing the supply chain information you need alongside your PCB design tools. Altium and Designer and Altium Concord Pro provide these features on the Altium 365 platform, giving you everything you need to select and source components. The first step in reducing your design time and cost is to make the switch to Altium Designer.


Altium Designer’s integrated PCB libraries lower development costs and allow you to compare electronic component prices within your design software.

Electronic component pricing comparison requires collecting vast amounts of information in one place. Before starting a design, many circuit board layout engineers need to spend time creating PCB footprints and schematic symbols in their libraries. Designers also need prices and sourcing data for their components to ensure they can meet their budgets. Creating one database with all electronic components for comparing pricing and sourcing is the best choice, but this takes a huge amount of time.

Enter Altium Designer and the Altium 365 platform provide a better way to manage component data and compare electronic component prices. This complete platform eliminates the need to manually create an electronic component database with component prices. Instead, you can access all your important component data from verified distributors in Altium Designer’s unified environment. You can save time and development costs when you use the integrated design and management solutions in Altium Designer.

Sourcing components to compare electronic component prices

Get complete access to a huge range of components with Altium Designer.

Worldwide Electronic Component Pricing for Millions of Parts

There are a number of problems that can trigger a redesign during the PCB design and development process. Whenever a schematic symbol is updated, a component becomes obsolete, PCB footprints are updated, or a model is revised, the library containing the old data needs to be updated. Designers need updated component data to ensure their products have the longest possible lifetime and lowest production costs.

Updating component data and populating libraries with new data can be as time-consuming as a redesign unless you have access to a reliable data management system. The best supply chain management tools give you access to updated prices and sources data within your PCB design software. This is a much better choice than using a 3rd party tool or manually creating your own database for tracking components.

Don’t Compile Components Databases, Use Integrated Libraries

With millions of circuit board components available on the world market, you need a way to quickly access electrical and sourcing information. Keeping everyone on your team synchronized takes a centralized solution like Altium Designer. The integrated component libraries in Altium Designer eliminate the time required to update your design team when adding new components to a circuit board. This lets everyone work from the same set of component data, rather than compiling individual databases.

Being able to efficiently collect sourcing and pricing data from multiple vendor sites results in huge cost savings. With Altium Designer, component updates are synchronized across your design, eliminating the need for extensive redesigns. Designers don’t need to recreate every schematic, and only minor changes are needed in the PCB layout. This is much easier than manually downloading components from vendors or search engines and adding them into your own libraries.

3D STEP models and schematic symbol in Altium Designer

Altium 365 gives you access to verified 2D and 3D CAD models alongside verified schematic symbols for circuit design. Access all the components you need in Altium Designer with the Altium 365 platform.

Lower Development Cost with Instant Documentation and Design Reuse

When you import library data into a new design or reuse existing design data during product development, the data in that library needs to be current if you want your design to be fabricated. When you have access to real-time supply chain information, you can immediately add these updated components to any design you want to reuse. This speeds up development times and reduces development costs.

Whether you’re reusing an old design or creating a new one, your manufacturing documentation also needs to include current information. Don’t generate manufacturing documents from stale data, use integrated libraries that include all the design, sourcing, and lifecycle information you need. This is another area where a data management tool will help you control costs and keep your PCB footprints, schematic, PCB layout, and component data up to date.

Use Aggregated Component Data to Prepare for PCB Manufacturing

The electronics supply chain moves quickly, and preliminary BOMs can go obsolete between design reviews. This makes design reuse and preparing for production tricky. Purchasing partners might be left scrambling for updated component information from design teams to track against multiple pricing databases. Pricing remains a moving target, difficult to manage in a constantly changing development environment.

You can eliminate these management tasks during design and manufacturing preparation with the complete set of circuit board design and management features in Altium Designer. You’ll have access to a managed supply chain solution alongside the world’s best printed circuit board design tools.

Comparative component pricing is automatically displayed in Altium’s Content Vault

Altium Designer’s Content Vault provides real-time pricing and sourcing of electronic parts

Dynamic Component Pricing and Sourcing in Altium Designer

The best part about working with the integrated libraries in Altium Designer is the ability to see data that is aggregated from multiple distributors in a single location. During early design development, comprehensive information about any one part is available in one place. Circuit board designers can select the most cost-effective options for their design while viewing comparable components in a single location.

Compare electronic component prices

The Manufacturer Part Search Panel lets you compare electronic component prices and import CAD data into your PCB projects.

The image above shows the Manufacturer Part Search Panel in Altium Designer, which can be used to get a complete view of the electronics supply chain. This tool provides a simple way to quickly compare electronic component prices, find symbols/footprints, compare lead times, and view component specifications. The parts you find in this window can be immediately imported into Altium Designer and placed in your design documents. No other design program makes finding and placing components this easy.

The Unified Design Environment in Altium Designer

With one parts library interfacing with schematic capture, PCB layout, and supply chain features, you’ll have everything you need to select and place components in a single program. PCB layout designers have access to dimensional information, associated footprints, and 3D modeling tools for advanced printed circuit boards.

Altium Designer and Altium 365 are unique because they integrate all your important design tools with the electronic components supply chain to give complete pricing, sourcing, lifecycle, and lead time data in a single program. Designers can view sourcing and pricing data as they find components for their designs, and they can easily compare electronic component prices early in the design process. Best of all, Altium 365 can be used to provide this data in a web browser or within Altium Designer.

Working with components in a 3D PCB layout

View and manage your component data and work in 3D with Altium Designer.

Once you have integrated PCB libraries to help you lower development costs and compare component prices, you won’t go back to third-party supply chain solutions. Altium Designer gives you the component management and PCB design tools you need together in a single program. When you need to plan your next printed circuit board for manufacturing, use the complete set of PCB design features in Altium Designer.

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 2500+ 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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