Build Your Next LED PCB Design in Altium's Unified Environment

Zachariah Peterson
|  Created: January 29, 2021

LED driver boards can be challenging designs when running at high power and high voltage. Power systems for driving devices like LED panels need careful planning and layout for power supply sections, and the LED PCB itself needs to be laid out to ensure low temperature operation. These objectives can be difficult to balance without the best set of PCB layout features and DC analysis tools.

When you need to create a high power LED PCB design, Altium Designer includes the layout and circuit design features you need to create a safe and reliable product. High voltage design features, precise CAD tools, and integrated simulation features give you everything you need to design a safe and reliable LED PCB. Here’s how Altium Designer can help you create LED PCB designs for low and high power applications.

ALTIUM DESIGNER

The only PCB design package with a complete set of layout and simulation features for LED PCB design and manufacturing.

Simple boards with through-hole LEDs are easy to design and don’t carry many special layout requirements. If you need to design something to hand high power output without breaking down during operation, the design process can get very complicated. An LED PCB design can quickly turn into a high voltage system with multiple LEDs, requiring strict power stability and low DC losses in the PDN.

If you want to create a new LED PCB design with high reliability, high power output, and low losses, you’ll need a suite of design tools to ensure success. An integrated design application like Altium Designer can give you all the high power/high voltage design features you need in an easy-to-use interface. When you need to layout, evaluate, and prep your LED circuit board for manufacturing, Altium Designer streamlines the process and helps you get through production quickly.

What Goes Into LED PCB Design?

LED PCBs might be simple systems with small arrays of LEDs, or they may be high power systems powering a large number of very bright LED arrays. All of these systems need a range of circuitry to ensure stable power delivery to LEDs on the board. Meanwhile, these systems need to be thermally stable; LEDs can dissipate a lot of power during operation, so heat needs to be removed quickly from these systems.

Once you’ve chosen an LED driver IC, designed your power regulation sections, and determined heat management requirements in your PCB layout, you’ll need to capture your board in a blank PCB and start laying out components. Your PCB layout will be a major determinant of reliability, and designers need a complete set of PCB layout tools to prevent board failure.

Your LED PCB Layout Determines Reliability

Your layout is partially responsible for removing heat from your LED while also ensuring stable power delivery. With the right set of PCB layout tools, you can take major steps to ensure reliability in your LED PCB. With the industry’s best CAD tools, you can easily place and arrange components in the board while also routing and pouring copper to help dissipate heat from critical components. Keeping your components cool and providing stable DC power will help ensure your board remains reliable during operation.

Circuit board for LED PCB design

You can build this type of high power LED PCB design with Altium Designer’s complete set of circuit board layout and manufacturing tools.

Power System Design for LED PCBs

If your LED PCB design will run at high power, then you may need to design a highly stable regulator to provide stable DC power to your LEDs. Power systems for LED PCBs must provide the required DC power output in a compact package and without overheating. LED driver ICs can shut down if overpowered or when their temperature gets too high. Designers need to balance multiple requirements to ensure reliability and safety.

There are many sub-systems you might need to place into your LED PCB design to ensure stable power and reliability. These might include:

  • Rectifier, filter, and PFC circuits to receive and convert AC power
  • Regulator circuits to convert and stability DC power
  • LED driver circuitry to provide dimming and power control
  • A feedback control loop to ensure stable output against power dropout

Designing these sub-systems takes circuit simulation features, PCB layout features, and integrated post-layout simulation tools to examine power stability and temperature rise. Altium Designer gives you access to a range of simulation features for high voltage and high current design, including for LED PCB designs.

Power Simulations You Can Perform in Altium Designer

The circuit design tools in Altium Designer include an integrated SPICE simulator for examining electrical behavior in all portions of your LED PCB. Once you’ve captured your schematics and created your PCB layout, you can use a PDN analyzer extension to simulate DC losses on your PDN and determine where power dissipation will be greatest. Once you identify hot spots in your board, you can use Altium Designer’s powerful CAD tools to make corrections to your board without huge redesigns. Everything you need for LED PCB design and much more can be found in Altium Designer.

Altium Designer PDN analyzer LED PCB design

DC simulation output for an LED driver PCB in Altium Designer’s PDN Analyzer extension.

Building Reliable and Safe LED Boards in Altium Designer

Altium Designer’s comprehensive toolset is integrated into a single program on top of a single rules-driven design engine, giving designers everything they need to design safe, reliable LED PCBs. LED power control boards that need to run at high voltage and high power can create safety concerns, but Altium Designer’s rules-driven design engine checks your board against important safety and reliability standards as it’s created. You can give yourself the greatest chances of success and stay productive when you use Altium Designer.

Rules-Driven LED Circuit Board Design in Altium Designer

A rules-driven design engine is critical for unifying your design tools in a single program and for helping you design to important industry reliability standards. Don’t settle for budget design tools when you need to design high power lighting products, use the industry’s best circuit board design features in Altium Designer.

Altium Designer LED PCB design

Creating high power LED PCB designs is easy in Altium Designer

Altium Designer is the only PCB design platform that gives you design tools for any application. Whether you’re designing small LED arrays or industrial-scale lighting systems, Altium Designer includes the design, simulation, and manufacturing tools designers need to create cutting-edge electronics.

Altium Designer on Altium 365 delivers unprecedented 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 1000+ technical blogs on PCB design for a number of companies. He is a member of IEEE Photonics Society, IEEE Electronics Packaging Society, and the American Physical Society, and he currently serves on the INCITS Quantum Computing Technical Advisory Committee.

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