Design Team & MCAD Collaboration - AltiumLive 2022
Learn how Altium 365 will improve your design process with team design collaboration, MCAD interaction, design development review, project history, commenting, and task tracking.
- Learn more about Altium 365
- Connect with Christine Morris on LinkedIn
- MCAD CoDesigner in Altium 365 | Collaboration
- ECAD MCAD Collaboration with Altium CoDesigner - Webinar
- MCAD CoDesigner Overview | ECAD and MCAD
Hi. Welcome. My name is Christine Morris. I am a Customer Success Manager at Altium, and today we're going to be talking about Design Team and MCAD Collaboration.
Some of the areas that we're going to focus on are how you can get started with the MCAD Collaboration. Then look at some of the features that you can push and pull between Altium Designer and your mechanical tool. And we'll go ahead and release a design for manufacturing. And of course, we'll wrap it up at the end with a Q and A session.
So for those of you that have already experienced MCAD Collaboration, you know that it's an iterative process. Traditionally, it's importing and exporting of DXF files, DWG files, et cetera. And it is a very error-prone process as well between the electrical and mechanical domains. Well, Altium has come up with another way of being able to not only securely and centralize your design data using the Altium 365, but also be able to collaborate with team members. And our Altium 365 is a cloud-based storage system that allows not only your data to be centralized but collaborate with team members, do design reviews, and even see manufacturing data.
And as long as you have an Altium Designer license and a subscription, you can create a workspace that will hold that data. And anyone that is either internal or external to your team, they can be anywhere around the world and if they register for an Altium 365 login, they would be able to see the data that is shared with them. Not only that, they'll be able to see your components and the supply chain data as well. So it really is one centralized location that allows you to store the data and then use the MCAD Collaboration to go ahead and bring that into your mechanical tools.
The tools that we support are PTC Creo, Autodesk Fusion 360, Autodesk Inventor, SolidWorks, Siemens NX. And just to make you aware, the Siemens NX tools, you would need our NEXUS product. All the rest, you can use the Altium Designer. And pretty much that Altium 365 is just that glue that kind of allows you to do the collaboration with your electrical and mechanical teams. That's where all that data is going to be stored.
How you get started is all you need to do is activate your Altium 365 workspace, invite some team members, then you can download the plugin from the Altium website, enable it, sign into the Altium 365, create that managed project, either on your electrical or your mechanical side and share that with your team members. Then you will be able to use the MCAD CoDesigner to see that data. And just to make you aware, not all the functionality is provided in each of the mechanical tools at this time, but it is being worked on.
Some of the features that are included in the MCAD CoDesigner ribbon in your mechanical tool are being able to place holes, cutouts, keepouts, even add the enclosure and push that through the MCAD CoDesigner panel. Not only that, we have additional support for rigid flex, copper, adding variance, silk screen, and even MCAD placement, component placement in your mechanical tool. So a lot of great features there that we can take a look at.
So let's go ahead and get started. I'm just going to go into my Altium Designer. I've already created my workspace and I've connected to it. And here you can see this little icon will allow me to see it in the web browser view. It'll open up and the workspace itself has some links on the left-hand side that I'll quickly go through some of them. Here, we have our getting started. So if you need to get familiar in working with the Altium 365, this will show you some quick videos on getting started. As well, we have our projects link and the project link includes some sample projects that you can experiment with here. You can open them. You can share them. You can edit them. You can even delete them. And we have some great properties for each of those here on the right-hand side and even activity that's taken place with other members.
In the event you need to share a design with someone through the workspace, you can go ahead and click the share button and all it's going to require then is when you select that is an email address. And you can give them viewing rights or editing rights, and you can set up some advanced settings of who they can share the project with and who can download the project as well. So real easy. And you can even add a note and then once you click share, it will then send an email to those individuals saying that project is available to either view or edit.
We also have our components. The components that are part of the sample data are organized by component type here. Each of them, if you drill in, you can see there's various information about the components, models, footprints, even data sheets. As well, the more important one that I'm interested in is the MCAD CoDesigner because that's where we are going to be talking a lot more about.
And here you can see, these are the tools that are supported currently with the Altium Designer. The panel is already built in, but with the mechanical tools you will need to go ahead and download the plugin. And that is right in the Altium webpage. So you can see those plugins are available here. I'm using SolidWorks today just for my demonstration, but once I click that download and I have already installed it into SolidWorks as well at this point, just to save a little bit of time.
So when I have installed that, if you open up your mechanical tool, you can enable the add-in. And here you can see, I have the Altium CoDesigner. I'm going to enable it at startup and just click okay. And it will bring open the panel. And for those of you that have your Altium credentials, you can go ahead and use those to sign in. Also, if I didn't have Altium credentials, I could register for an Altium 365 credential. And also, for those of you that can't use cloud-based storage, you can also set up a custom server that is on premise. So here you could still use the Altium CoDesigner, it just would log into your server that is on premise instead.
Today, I'm going to use the Altium 365, however. So I'll just sign in here. And you'll notice when I sign in, I have this settings and I've already set up a folder for my MCAD data to be stored in. I could also enable my 3D geometry for copper and solder mask. At this point, I'm just going to leave that out for the time being, and I'll come back to that a little bit later.
But once you set up that folder, then you can pull in the design from the ECAD if it's been pushed to the server. You can also, if you have a device assembly already created in SolidWorks, you can insert the PCB assembly and then have it recognized with this button. Or I can create a new assembly and go ahead and push it to the server.
So let's go into Altium Designer and let's create a new project. And I'm just going to go and use one of the templates. And the project that I will create today, I'll just make it my MCAD project here. And I'm going to put it into version control. And you can see when I put into version control, that allows me to collaborate and also see the full history. Not only that, I have the folder that it's going to be stored in, Altium 365, and also on my local drive. And that's just for increased reliability.
Once I create my project, I have my PCB document that I can go ahead and open up. And you'll see that is put into version control, which is great. That's showing me that everything is great and looks good. I can open up that PCB design. And I'm just going to go into my view configuration. And I'm going to turn off this sheet because I just want to work with the PCB for the time being.
And one other thing I'm going to do is I'm going to share this with another person as well. And that person has already been invited. And it's just going to ask me to sign in because I was in the other tools. And that's just for security. I'll let this go ahead. And now that I've signed in, you can see I can give Zach either editing rights or viewing rights and some advanced settings, just like I was showing in the web view. But this is how I'm going to share a design within Altium Designer itself. And those are the people that have access. I can even remove any access at any given time as well. Looks good to me.
And so at this point, I am going to go in and I'm just going to place a component from my connectors and it's the Molex connector. And actually, I want to keep with best practices. So I'm going to place that on my schematic sheet instead. And we'll go ahead and I'm just going to annotate that and push it through the engineering change order as well.
So now I have my component and if I go ahead and zoom in here, I can go into 3D mode as well. And what's nice is I have this MCAD CoDesigner. I want to go in and save all those changes so the person that I have already been collaborating with will be able to see that new information that I've added as well before I go ahead and push it. And in the MCAD CoDesigner, this is under the panels button if you're not familiar, and it's located here. I have it open and now I can go ahead, and this is my first push from the ECAD, I am going to share it explicitly just so you can see how that is shared from the MCAD CoDesigner panel as well. Notice it allows me to enter an email address. I'll just use Zach again, but it could be anyone, either internal or external to my organization. Then I just click the share button and it will let me know that the invitation was sent.
At this point, now I can go into my mechanical tool and I have an assembly that I've already been working on. I can go ahead and open that up. And I'm just going to go into my MCAD test and it's this read device. And you can see it's an enclosure. It's not a whole lot there to it, but at this point now I can go ahead and I can pull the board. And this is going to pull it from the server. I'm going to pull in the exact same project. I'll click okay. I'm going to save it in my MCAD test folder. And it'll build out the feature tree and it'll even recognize the component, which is really nice.
So I'll let this build. And you'll notice also when it builds the board, it brings in these planes and that's essentially just for ease of use and placement of objects and components. And here, I'm just going to, just so we have this out of view. But notice this is that component that was recognized when I brought it in. Not only that, I have also my MCAD CoDesigner, and here are all the features that are available for me to place.
So now I have this board. I'm just going to go ahead and do a file, save all. And I'm going to go back into my assembly. And what I'm going to do is I'm going to insert that board. And it is my MCAD assembly. And here you can see I could position it. I'm going to have it recognize this board now that I brought it in. And I'm just going to make a coincident mate. So it'll be oriented the right place or direction as well. I'll just bring that in closer and we can go ahead.
And at this point, now I have my board and I want to be able to constrain it a little bit more. I'm just going to change my units here real quick. And then I'm going to add a couple of mates. And I can add the mates and I can actually select either faces or if I have a plane that I want to go ahead and add those constraints, I can use a plane, which is probably even better. But this is available to me, so I'll just use this, make it easy.
So that's one of the directions. And I'm also going to go ahead and just for this inside and I'll make another one and we'll just use one mill is fine. So now I have my board constraint in with my enclosure. Everything looks good. I'm going to go in now and I want to modify it to the correct size. So in order to do that, what I'm going to do is dimension my board first. And before I do that, I also want to make sure I'm consistent with my units. So now I can go in and I'll just put in that dimension here. That looks good for that one. And I'll do the same on the other side.
And if I want just so you can see that's fully constrained, I can even go in here and at this point go ahead and change the size so it's smaller as well. And let me just do that. I don't think I modified those dimensions. Oh, yes I did. Excellent.
So now I have my dimensions. I can also go in and maybe I want to just add some fillets here just to round it off. It looks like it's still not as nice. And I'll just change this to four before putting those in just so it's a little smaller there, fits within the range of my board. And that looks good. So I'll accept all these changes. And just an important note when you dimension your board, those dimensions are going to stay when I push and pull that design data. Not only that, I can also go ahead and I can even move this component, which is nice. And maybe I just want to move it down. And you'll notice when I move it, it does leave behind the pads. But when I go ahead and push it or pull in the new design changes from the ECAD side, it will then move those into the proper place. That's being worked on. But just to let you know.
Now, at this point in time, I can add some of these features that I want to use using the ribbon. Here, I'm just going to select the location that I want the hole, and I'll put it somewhere up in this corner. And I'm going to just bring this down a little bit so we can change that size. And I want to make this, I'll make this three. And I'm going to make this three as well. Because that's a pretty large hole there, be cutting out part of my board. And I'll put another one down in the lower-right corner. Just going to select that face again and go ahead and those dimensions are fine.
With that, I'm going to create a cutout as well. And I can do my cutout anywhere in this region. I'll just do a rectangular shape. And notice once I have that, I'll accept that. And it's going to do a cut extrude, is exactly what I want. Not only that, I want to do a keepout area. I'll do that somewhere down in this area. And this is going to be a surface extrude. And even maybe a text note, if I wanted to add maybe some information and text later on. And let me just select that again. Maybe some height constraints or something else that I want to go ahead and just be able to write in. And I don't think that that went ahead and took. Let me select that one more time. There I'm going to select, and now I'm just going to go in. There is my text frame. That looks a little better.
So now I have all of that information. I just want to save all this as well before I go ahead. And now I can go in and it's going to update that information. And the very last thing I want to do now is I want to go ahead and add the enclosure because I want to push that through as well. So I'm going to select that enclosure, and notice that it was successfully updated. So all of that information now is available not only my keepout area and I can include those restrictions that I want, but I also have my note and I can go ahead and add a height restriction if I want it. I can do that a little later as well. But notice the enclosure is here also.
So at this point, this is my first push from the MCAD side, and I'm going to send all that information across to the server. And when I open up my Altium Designer, I will be able to see all of those changes and it will recognize all those features. So here in my MCAD CoDesigner panel, I can pull in those changes, and what's nice is it'll even give me a preview. If I select all of these, it will give me a preview of each and every one of them. And so I can see what is being modified. And if I just do an apply an okay, it'll bring in all of that information and here it is readily available. And if I go into 2D mode, I can see the board. I can see each of those areas.
And now at this point, if I go into the PCB I can even see that in 3D. And you can see this is the model there. And if I want to select that model, I can even change that transparency. Maybe I want it at 50%. Now if I go back into the 2D, you can see here, and I'll just go back to 2D mode, in the project itself if I select any of these items that are in the tool or in the PCB, I should say, notice it recognizes it as a cutout. Also, I have this keepout area and look at the restrictions. These are the ones that I added. Not only that, I have my text frame, my note. And if I want, I can even add copper to the pads. And I'll just scroll down here and I'll just increase this size here. And when I push it back through, I'll go ahead and enable the copper so you can see that as well.
And so if I just, that's one of them, and I will do the same for this other one just to be consistent. And now that I have that, I have those pads with the copper. And the one last thing I will do, because I really want you to be able to see tracks and so forth, I'm just going to go back in and I'm going to go into my schematic sheet and I'm going to place a capacitor. And I'm just going to place some quick tracks so you can see that copper come through. And just to stay with best practices, I'm going to do the same as before, just update them and push it through the ECO.
So here is my capacitor and I can even rotate that if I want and I can place some tracks. Normally, I'd wire it up in my schematic, but just because we're doing it as part of a demo. And you can see, I'll just bring this one down here, somewhere in this vicinity. So that looks good. At this point, I'm going to go ahead and I am going to push that data back. And again, you can see that full history, which is really nice. And if I wanted, I can even do the save to server because I've updated this and that data then would be pushed out to the other team members that I'm collaborating with as well. It's always nice to keep the data consistent. And this is my second MCAD push. And because I've shared it already, Zach would have that information, so I don't have to reshare the information.
At this point, I can go back into my SolidWorks assembly and notice it detects those new changes. If I go ahead and pull those in, and what I want before I do that, I want to enable my copper so we can see that actually build. Now that I've enabled that, let me just pull in those changes, do an apply, and it will start building those out.
And this takes a little bit. As you can imagine, the larger the board, the more copper it has to bring in. So when it comes in, we'll see it build out not only the solder mask, but we'll be able to see it on the pads and even the traces for the components that I put in. And just to let you know, also we have support for rigid-flex that comes through. So if that's something that you're interested in, we even have a sample project that you can open up and take a look at that closer.
So now, it looks like it rebuilt the data. You can even see the silk screen is here, which is nice. I'm just going to go ahead and hide my enclosure, and I'll even change the transparency here on this board just so we can see it a little bit better for the copper. And here you can see right through, here is that copper there. Not only that, I even can see the barrels for the pads, for the holes, I should say. So real, real nice way of just communicating that data between your electrical and mechanical engineer through the MCAD CoDesigner panel. And again, all those features that are built in are available. And you've seen how easy it is just to place each one and then have it recognized before you push it across.
So the one last thing that I want to show you before we wrap it up today is I want to go ahead and create or release a project for manufacturing. And I'm just going to close this project out for the time being. And what I'm going to do is I'm going to open up one of the projects, the same exact project here that is going to be completed. And I'll open that up. And what I'm going to do is open up the PCB document to be able to push that data across for manufacturing.
So here is our board. And this is a 2D view of it, of course, and it's fully completed. So again, you can see that view of what we're going to create the manufacturing files for. I'm just going to go in and I'm going to use the project releaser. And when it opens, we'll be able to see that it'll pick up the assembly and the fab output jobs, and it will append a revision number as well. All I'm going to do is do a prepare and release. And what it does is it looks at all of the data in the output jobs and it will start going through those one by one and checking and making sure that they can be released and there aren't any errors.
And this just takes a few moments. Also, what's nice about the releaser is it allows you to set up comparisons for Gerber comparison. If you needed to look at the differences between each of the revisions that you may have created, you can do so and you could set it up right through the releaser here. And notice it's starting to generate these files as well. Once it goes through, it will ask me to put in a release note and then go ahead and put it in the Altium 365. So we'll just let this complete. And you can see that's the Gerber comparer is there on the screen up at the top.
And here is my release note. So I'll just put in initial release and go ahead and click okay. And this will show me the actual files and links to each of those so you'll be able to see the data that it's preparing.
And here are the reports. This is the fab assembly. And if you expand those even further, you can see all the data. What I'm going to do is I'm just going to go into the web browser view of this and we'll be able to see that manufacturing data that was released.
And we didn't really take a really good look at the viewer, but here you can see on the left-hand side I have all of the schematic pages. You can even see the PCB document here in the web view, as well as do point-to-point measurements. You can even search for nets if you wanted in any one of these. For example, it will isolate it in the viewer. You can even cross probe between the schematic and PCB. So it'll isolate it here in the PCB and the 3D view. So real, real nice way of seeing the design in its entirety. Not only that, you can download the project if you have permissions to do so.
And we also have some controls that you can look at, or the board information from the web view as well. So real easy to use. Not only that, if I wanted to place a comment, maybe I want to place a comment and say on this, I can do an @mention to a group or a role that has been set up to my engineers, please check package. Or maybe my design review is done and I could add a post about that saying it's all done. And all that will do is it goes in, and then it would be available to others to see in my team. And not only that, if I wanted, I could even resolve any one of these comments as well. If they got too busy, I can turn them off, the viewing of them here with this little icon on the right.
But more importantly, I want to go back in and I want to look at that design data. And that's under my releases. And these releases here, if I click on the send to manufacturer, you can see there's eight releases of this board. There might have been a lot of different revisions, maybe they added more during that process, but you can see here I can include any of the source or fab or assembly drawings that I want to be included. Once I include those, then it shows my initial release. That was for this. When I was in the Altium Designer, I put in that initial release. And now I can send it off to whomever I want on my manufacturing side.
And I'm just going to send it to Max. He would, again, receive an email stating that there's data available, and we'll open it up and we'll show you what he would see when viewing that manufacturing data. So now I have that, I've sent it off, and I'm just going to look at that release just as Max would see it. Here are the parameters. This is just about the board itself. It gives us a preview in 2D, 3D, and even the layer stack. Not only that, we have the full supply chain, which is great. So anyone, if you're assembly house needs to look at the components or verification. Even have the quantities, and you can even see some data on the right-hand side as well. Not only that, you can even go through the assembly. It shows a top and a bottom view of the board and you can go and start the assembly and just checking one by one by clicking through, and it will isolate them in the assembly view and show you where they are located so you can verify they are correct.
So real, real nice preview of all the data right here in one place. Not only that, we have the full history of the project as well from when it was created. So you can see these ones here in red, these are all the data. And I can view them. I can compare schematics, Gerbers, BOMs. I can even download snapshots from here. Not only that, this just shows me all the different changes that were committed and added to this project along the way. And notice here, I didn't make any edits in the physical design. I just released it for manufacturing. And that's why you're not seeing any of these commits. But even the MCAD data would be stored here for MCAD changes. You can see the board was completed. So really, really nice way of being able to track all that design data.
But that is all I had for our session. I want to open it up for Q and A session now. So please feel free to ask any questions you may have.