With Altium Designers PCBDOC Viewer Nothing is Left to Chance

Zachariah Peterson
|  Created: March 8, 2021
Manufacturing Output Files and Why They are Important

With Altium’s free PCBDOC viewer, every member of your design team will have read-only access to your design data leaving nothing to chance.


Any kind of file viewing should be an easy process for your PCB design software.

Your printed circuit board design may have started with just yourself or a small team of people, but by the time it is completed there will be a lot more involved. There will be people checking to make sure that your components are available, others checking your connectivity and design, while still others will be looking at the mechanical configuration and to see how well your design will fit with others. Then your design will go out to PCB manufacturing, and even more people will be checking how it was designed and if it will run through the PCB fabrication and assembly processes without problems.

To give everyone the access that they need to work with you and your design, you need two things. First, you need the ability to quickly and efficiently create detailed documentation for review and manufacturing and second, you need a PCB document viewer that can easily review all of the design files and documentation that you have created. Fortunately Altium Designer is PCB design software that is able to handle both of these needs.

PCB Design Manufacturing Documentation

The first question that comes up is what kind of PCB manufacturer documents and drawings will need to be created? If you are not familiar with the entire PCB design process or PCB manufacturing requirements, you may be asking yourself the same thing. Your PCB manufacturer will need an array of design files from you that may include Gerber files, bill of material files, Excellon drill files, fabrication and assembly drawings, pick and place files, and many others. Here are some resources to help you become more acquainted with some of these file types.

Manufacturing Output Files and Why They are Important

If you are new to all of this then don’t worry, here are some resources on the basics of manufacturing output files.

Screenshot of AD18 draftsman in PCBDOC viewer

Altium Designer gives you many powerful tools such as this generator for drawings

Altium Designer Viewer Edition

When the design is complete and it is time to hand it over for manufacturing, you need to have confidence that the data you send out clearly communicates your intent. This way you can be sure that the board that gets manufactured is built exactly the way that you intended it to be. The key to this level of communication is for all members of the design and manufacturing teams to have access to your documentation.

Altium offers a free download of a PCB document file viewer. This tool is a version of Altium Designer that grants access as read-only to the Gerber files and manufacturing documentation that you have created. With this viewer free download everyone in your design and manufacturing teams will always be on the same page as you. Your intra-team communications will improve making design reviews quicker, and you will see reduced design errors and fewer board spins. With the viewer being read-only you also won’t have to worry that someone else might have changed your design files. The other team members will be able to see the same design data as you do but without the chance of making unintentional alterations.

File Generation and the Free Viewer are All from the Same Set of Tools

With the viewer being a free version of Altium Designer, the Gerber and BOM files you created are easily viewed by all.

Screenshot of AD18 sch BOM layout in PCBDOC viewer

Altium Designer allows you to share your full design data through its free PCB Doc viewer

PCB Design Teams and How to Use PCBDOC Viewer

With more than 30 years of experience behind it, Altium Designer is one of the most versatile and powerful PCB design systems available today. From CAD import and schematic capture to layout as well as the CAM editor, PCB designers have found great success using Altium PCB design tools for multi-layer PCBs, rigid-flex PCB design, and more. Altium Designer delivers advanced functionality such as a full set of design rules, intelligent routing options, and a full native 3D engine for component placement and checking. Altium Designer’s cross-selecting and cross-probing capabilities will enable fast and efficient navigation for you between the schematic and the layout. You will be able to view, edit, print and share everything from single documents to your entire project with your team, and all from Altium’s signature unified design platform.

The same power in Altium Designer is also in the free viewer allowing your team members to work with all of the design documentation in a secure read-only version. This includes Printed Circuit Boards, schematics, and manufacturing files. Your team will be able to view, print, and cross-probe between the schematic and the layout just as you can in the full version of Altium Designer. With the viewer free download version, your team will be able to verify your design for all aspects of manufacturing down to the smallest details of the solder mask.

Use Altium’s Viewer for the Files You Created in Altium Designer

Altium’s free PCB Doc viewer easily reads the bill of materials file, the drawing files, and all the rest of your manufacturing output files that were created in the powerful Altium Designer.

With Altium Designer you can design the most challenging circuit boards out there. With the free PCB Doc viewer, you can keep your entire component design and manufacturing team on the same page with you. Sign up for a free trial today and discover how Altium can help you to succeed.

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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