Free Trials

Download a free trial to find out which Altium software best suits your needs

How to Buy

Contact your local sales office to get started on improving your design environment


Download the latest in PCB design and EDA software

  • Altium Designer

    Complete Environment for Schematic + Layout

  • CircuitStudio

    Entry Level, Professional PCB Design Tool

  • CircuitMaker

    Community Based PCB Design Tool


    Agile PCB Design For Teams

  • Altium 365

    Connecting PCB Design to the Manufacturing Floor

  • Altium Concord Pro

    Complete Solution for Library Management

  • Octopart

    Extensive, Easy-to-Use Component Database

  • PDN Analyzer

    Natural and Effortless Power Distribution Network Analysis

  • See All Extensions

    World-Renowned Technology for Embedded Systems Development

  • Live Courses

    Learn best practices with instructional training available worldwide

  • On-Demand Courses

    Gain comprehensive knowledge without leaving your home or office

  • Altium 365 Viewer

    View & Share electronic designs in your browser

  • Altium Designer 20

    The most powerful, modern and easy-to-use PCB design tool for professional use


    Annual PCB Design Summit

    • Forum

      Where Altium users and enthusiasts can interact with each other

    • Blog

      Our blog about things that interest us and hopefully you too

    • Ideas

      Submit ideas and vote for new features you want in Altium tools

    • Bug Crunch

      Help make the software better by submitting bugs and voting on what's important

    • Wall

      A stream of events on AltiumLive you follow by participating in or subscribing to

    • Beta Program

      Information about participating in our Beta program and getting early access to Altium tools

    All Resources

    Explore the latest content from blog posts to social media and technical white papers gathered together for your convenience


    Take a look at what download options are available to best suit your needs

    How to Buy

    Contact your local sales office to get started improving your design environment

    • Documentation

      The documentation area is where you can find extensive, versioned information about our software online, for free.

    • Training & Events

      View the schedule and register for training events all around the world and online

    • Design Content

      Browse our vast library of free design content including components, templates and reference designs

    • Webinars

      Attend a live webinar online or get instant access to our on demand series of webinars

    • Support

      Get your questions answered with our variety of direct support and self-service options

    • Technical Papers

      Stay up to date with the latest technology and industry trends with our complete collection of technical white papers.

    • Video Library

      Quick and to-the-point video tutorials to get you started with Altium Designer

    Designing PCBs for Testing

    Chris Carlson
    |  February 21, 2017


    The overall cost to produce a completed printed circuit board can be broken down into several basic categories: the cost of manufacturing the blank PCB layout, the cost of components, the assembly costs, and the cost of testing. That last one, the cost of the PCB test, can comprise as much as 25% to 30% of the total cost of producing the entire product. Best practices for Printed Circuit Board DFT is key.

    By designing a product to have the highest test coverage and the ability to isolate faults quickly, regarding both PCB manufacturing errors and component failures, design for testing becomes paramount in for profitability. What are some design best practices to follow to ensure your board has the highest PCB test coverage? Let’s take a look.

    Design for Testing (DFT) Tip: Always Plan Ahead

    The first two questions to ask when planning a design are:

    1. Who is going to administer the PCB testing of your assembly?

    2. What are their circuit board capabilities?

    The DFT guideline will be helpful in the initial planning of the layout. However, it is a good idea to contact the contract manufacturer (CM) directly and discuss your specific needs with a knowledgeable test engineer. The test engineer will be able to discuss their PCB testing capabilities and make you aware of the different test methodologies they’re able to provide. Most test engineers much rather communicate and prevent problems than to fail PCBs.

    A combination of a boundary scan (JTAG), automated ICT test, X-ray laminography (AXI) and visual inspection (manual and machine vision) will provide the most comprehensive test coverage. It will also give you access to immediate feedback on the PCB manufacturing process so that workflow can be quickly adjusted as needed, and defective components can be spotted and rejected.

    Bed of Nails Tester (ICT Test)

    Determining PCB Test Coverage

    Next, you should consider what test coverage is necessary to guarantee a quality finished product. Utilizing the full arsenal of test capabilities available may or may not be required for your application, and in fact, may be cost prohibitive. For example, if you are fielding a one-of-a kind-satellite orbiting earth, you will want to perform every type of test available, to ensure that the finished product will function reliably for years in an environment where repair is not an option. However, if you are producing musical greeting cards, a simple, functional test may be all that is required.      

    What PCB Testing Coverage Is Best for You?

    With the testing phase of a completed printed circuit board comprising up to 30% of overall costs, it’s more important than ever to fully plan out your DFT process prior to your PCB design. This first begins with knowing the capabilities of your manufacturer and what PCB test coverage is necessary to guarantee a quality finished product. Download a free Design for Testability white paper to learn more about the available testing coverage and which one is best for your PCB design. Plan for the best DFT Printed Circuit Board process.

    About Author

    About Author

    Sr. Field Application Engineer
    Chris Carlson came to Altium in August of 2007 and brings with him his background in power electronics, data acquisition, and controls. Chris earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Oregon State University in 1993 and has worked as a design engineer in the Bio-Medical, Industrial Controls, Motor Drive, and Defense industries.

    most recent articles

    Back to Home