How a Components Search Engine Helps You Choose Parts For Your PCB

Altium Designer
|  Created: October 24, 2018  |  Updated: September 25, 2020

Woman using a search engine

If you owned a computer during the 1990’s, then you remember when internet search engines became massively popular. Most homepages were likely set to one of the three or four major search engines. This made surfing the digital highway so much easier, and now search functionality is integrated in many different websites and applications.

Anytime you need to quickly locate specific entries in a large database, using a search engine is the fastest way to do it. So what if you need to locate those critical components for your PCB among the sea of available components? You can try sourcing your components using an internet search engine, or you can use unified design software that integrates search capabilities into your component libraries.

Keeping Track of Your Components

With the multitude of available components for use in PCBs, nobody can keep track of every specification, footprint, cost, and sourcing information for every component. This is where your component library comes in handy. The problem with many component libraries is that they function like the card catalog at a library; you’re stuck browsing through a giant list of components and comparing specifications on paper.

Your other option is searching through component distributor websites for the right components for your PCB. If you’re working with a very large distributor, you’ll be able to search and compare a large number of components, and even find truly equivalent components. Some component websites offer features like an IC equivalent locator and similar tools that can be very useful.

While these tools can provide some quick solutions in a pinch, but you might be confined to searching only through the components that the company distributes. The most time consuming task is jotting down information for the components you need and manually searching through your components library for these parts.

Instead of relying on manually recording the components you need using an external tool like a distributor website, your PCB design software should have include an integrated component library with built-in search features. You won’t be left scrolling through a component library by hand or writing down information you located in some other search engine.

Locating the right replacement components is much easier when your PCB design software integrates search capabilities into your component libraries. You can easily compare specifications and tolerances on different components, and all the information you need to choose the right components is presented in a single window. You can compare your custom components with standard components and make the best parts decision for your device.

Woman searching through a  card catalog

Other component libraries leave you feeling like you’re stuck with a card catalog

Some PCB design software companies give you access to an online tool that you can use to locate the best components for your PCB. This integrates directly into your component library, making it easy to get the latest information on new components, as well as updates to symbols and models for existing components.

Sourcing Your Components

Even though there are thousands of parts in component libraries, they cannot always be immediately sourced due to demand in the market. Different distributors keep different levels of  inventory depending on demand for their stock of components. Your component libraries should make it easy to search through this information.

If money is no object, you may not think twice about having your preferred components shipped across the globe to your manufacturer. But if you are designing to cost, supply chain information can help ensure that you save on component costs wherever possible. This is very important in high volume manufacturing runs, as a small savings on each component can add up to a large savings throughout the entire manufacturing process.

This is where a component library that give you updated supply chain information becomes critical. This allows you select the best components for your circuit board based on availability and cost, as well as suitable replacement components when your preferred components are not immediately available.

When you PCB design software integrates search capabilities and supply chain information into your component libraries, you can rest assured that every part in your circuit board is actually sourceable and production will run on schedule. You won’t have to comb through distributor websites to determine lead times or compare datasheets to locate suitable replacement components.

Businessman working on a tablet

Your PCB design software should make it easy to manage your supply chain.

The best PCB design software will integrate your component information, sourcing information, design tools, and bill of materials tools into a single environment. You won’t be stuck scrolling through a massive component list just to find the parts you need, and you won’t have to continually contact distributors to get sourcing information. All the information you need is present in a single program.

Navigating through the maze of components choices takes the best component management tools with built-in search functionality. Altium Designer 18.1 gives you access to massive component libraries, management tools, and search features that interface with the latest  and greatest design, bill of materials, and simulation tools.

If you’re interested in seeing how Altium Designer’s integrated components libraries can help you locate the right components for your PCB, then download a free trial. Talk to an Altium expert today to learn more.

About Author

About Author

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

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