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Automating PCB Design Environments: How to Simplify and Automate Your PCB ECO Workflow

Created: February 21, 2017
Updated: September 25, 2020

Graphic depicting different programs

Shuffling different programs for your schematic and PCB layout design changes costs both time and money. Altium Designer® tackles this issue with a unified design system that automatically transfers data between schematic and PCB using component links. Read on to learn how component links are increasing productivity by automating ECO procedures.

Transferring data from schematic to PCB, or vice versa, is traditionally a task stretched across multiple tools and software. Generating an ECO typically entails exporting portions of your design from one program and importing it into another, which can become a tedious and costly process. What if there was a way to automate your ECO workflow without ever having to import or export data? Let us take a look at how to simplify PCB workflow. 

Keeping It Connected with Component Links

One of the major advantages of Altium Designer is that it provides you with a single, unified environment that can handle all aspects of your design process. Altium Designer enables automation when generating ECOs by unifying your schematic editor and your PCB layout with component links that seamlessly connect the two.

Component links are what unite your schematic editor with your PCB layout. To establish the connection between the schematic and the PCB, Altium Designer automatically assigns a Unique ID to any symbol placed in your design. This Unique ID links the symbol to the associated footprint when it is populated on the PCB and then scans the schematics and PCB of a design project to find these linked components. With component links, you can:

  • Automatically transfer data back-and-forth from schematic to PCB layout.

  • Easily perform ECOs without having to import and export your design data.

  • Handle all aspects of your design in a single, unified environment. 

Changes to your design should not be convoluted with minor tasks like transferring data between two programs. Our PCB design software simplifies the process by utilizing component links to communicate all aspects of your printed circuit board design between schematic and PCB layout.


Interested in learning how component links are used to simplify the ECO process? Download our free white paper about Automating Your ECO with Component Links for more information.

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