The Right Tools Will Help Your PCB Layout Time Estimation

Zachariah Peterson
|  Created: February 5, 2019  |  Updated: March 13, 2019
The Right Tools Will Help Your PCB Layout Time Estimation

To accurately know how to plan for your PCB design, you need the right tools to help with your PCB layout time estimation.


Giving the most accurate results from a PCB design software out there.

When exploring a new printed circuit board design, it is beneficial to estimate how long it will take to complete the layout. This will allow for production and test to be properly scheduled plus synchronize the release of the design with marketing and other related projects. To accurately estimate the time to completion of a PCB layout requires layout experience, an understanding of the design requirements, and complete data on component density and available board space. Most importantly though it will require design tools that can help you forecast the amount of time the design will take.

To do this you need a full range of PCB design tools. Even before you get to layout, having schematic tools that will help you to create and simulate the circuitry will minimize any design surprises later on. Once you are in layout you will need tools that are easy to operate and will give you multiple placement options so that you can consistently place and align your parts. You also will need intelligent trace routing features so that your routing time can be easily calculated and then executed. Finally, you will need automated output functionality so that you can create your final manufacturing files in your projected amount of time.

From start to finish you need a set of design tools that can do it all. The good news is that there is a PCB design system that gives you all of these features in one complete suite of tools; Altium Designer.

Component Placement

Your PCB layout tools should help you to be prepared for your layout. Altium Designer gives you complete control over board sizes and layer stackups so that you can see before you start the amount of board space that you have to work with. Floor planning is simple in Altium Designer with its ability to cross select parts from the schematic to the layout.

You can easily group parts according to logical groups in the schematic to see exactly which parts will need to go where. Once you begin to place those parts, Altium Designer provides you with a host of different placement features that will help you to locate and align your parts quickly according to the needs of the design.

PCB Layout Tools that Make Component Placement Intuitive and Easy

No matter what temperature rise occurs on your circuit board or within its layers, your design process and design rules should account for it. Managing layers, heat sources, thermal resistance, pins, and cost are all necessary to move through the layers of PCB fabrication and have your circuit become a printed circuit. The placement tools in Altium Designer will give you the control you need to accurately plan for and execute a precise placement of your components.

Screenshot of AD18 3D layout in PCB layout time estimation

Altium Designer’s advanced place and route tools will help you to hit your time estimations

Trace Routing to One-Hundred Percent Completion

Not only does Altium Designer help you to visualize and plan your routing before you start, but its intelligent trace routing tools will also help you to swiftly get your routing all the way completed. From standard interactive routing tools that will help you to steer your way around obstacles, to enhanced routing features such as clean-up, glossing, and differential pair routing, you won’t have any difficulty connecting all of your traces.

Altium Designer also gives you different levels of auto routing features so that you can let the tools finish connecting a trace for you, or even guide the auto router in connecting multiple nets. For high-speed routing there are even more advanced levels of routing available to you with Altium Designer’s xSignals tools. These tools allow you to specify high-speed routing parameters, topology rules, and signal paths. From start to finish, Altium Designer gives you the routing tools you need to accurately predict the amount of time it will take to finish the job.

Best in Class Tools to Give You the Accuracy that You Need

With Altium Designer you can choose among several different routing tools to help you complete your trace routing in the time that you have projected.

AD18 screenshot of project releaser in PCB layout time estimation

Altium Designer gives you advanced output tools that will help your time estimation

Manufacturing Outputs in Your PCB Layout Time Estimation

If there is one area of PCB layout that tends to throw off a time to completion estimation, it usually is in the creation of the final output files. Preparing the design for output, creating the manufacturing drawings, generating the files, and then reviewing those files for errors can seriously affect your schedule. Fortunately Altium Designer has some very advanced output file generators and tools that will help you to pinpoint the amount of time that you will need to finish your design.

To begin with, Altium Designer’s drawing generator “Draftsman” will help you to create precise manufacturing drawings based on templates that you create. Notes, views, and other drawing features can easily be added and manipulated to quickly create the drawing that you need. Altium Designer also gives you the ability to easily create batch output files that will either generate the files sets you need or completely archive your entire design. All of these features are easily configurable giving you the maximum amount of control while using the least amount of time so that output file generation will no longer impact your design schedule.

Finish the Design Quickly and Accurately with Altium Designer

Altium Designer’s output generators will enable you to accurately predict how much time it will take to create your manufacturing file sets.

The time to complete your design doesn’t have to be a mystery any longer. Altium Designer gives you the advanced tools you need to accurately estimate how long the job will take.

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 2500+ technical articles on PCB design for a number of companies. He is a member of IEEE Photonics Society, IEEE Electronics Packaging Society, American Physical Society, and the Printed Circuit Engineering Association (PCEA). He previously served as a voting member on the INCITS Quantum Computing Technical Advisory Committee working on technical standards for quantum electronics, and he currently serves on the IEEE P3186 Working Group focused on Port Interface Representing Photonic Signals Using SPICE-class Circuit Simulators.

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