Time-Saving Technologies for Your PCB Routing Workflow

Charles Pfeil
|  Created: February 21, 2017  |  Updated: September 25, 2020


Whether you’re new to electronics design or have thirty years under your belt, most engineers agree: interactive routing is the most challenging and tedious task in the PCB design process. Experienced designers enjoy the challenge, applying their creative puzzle-solving talents to win the many battles and ultimately the war. Designers who are new to the task and those who would rather focus on other aspects of design wind up struggling in execution. Yet, everyone eventually gets weary of the tedium.

Some of the most routing challenges include managing where the routes are placed, ordering escapes out of pin/via arrays, making routing more efficient, and fulfilling high speed and fabrication concerns. Imagine how much more you could accomplish if routing your board took minutes instead of hours. What if you could route your entire board more efficiently while saving precious time and resources?

High-Performance, Guided PCB Routing Technology

ActiveRoute® for Altium ® is an interactive routing method that applies high levels of user-controlled automation while producing high-quality results in a very short time. The purpose of is to diminish the challenge of routing, eliminate the tedium, and increase productivity significantly.


In the context of interactive routing tools, one unique aspect of is that it can route on multiple layers simultaneously. This is important to obtain efficient routing, to follow the ’s planning and to achieve fast performance.

By default, if no layers are chosen in the panel, the routing occurs on just the layer. However, if multiple layers are chosen in the panel, will distribute the routes fairly evenly across those layers.

Multiple Layers Routed Simultaneously. Layer 1 (Green) Has 48 Routes & Layer 4 (Blue) Has 44.

Since can perform over multiple layers, when there is any difficulty routing a particular connection on one layer, it can immediately try it on one of the other layers. The result is that the route will be more direct. Plus, time will not be wasted trying it over and over on the same layer only to complete it with excessive meandering or simply failing.

The Future of PCB Routing

Traditionally, the routing process requires considerable time and effort from even the most experienced designers. changes the paradigm for interactive routing by enabling the user to significantly accelerate their workflow by quickly routing multiple layers with plenty of time to spare for fine tuning.

Interested to find out more about in Altium 17? Download the free technical white paper in Altium  and see what else is new in Altium 17 today.

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Fast and High-Quality Routing

About Author

About Author

Charles was in the PCB industry over 50 years as a designer, owner of a service bureau, and worked in marketing and/or engineering management at Racal-Redac, ASI, Cadence, PADS, and VeriBest (which was acquired by Mentor Graphics in 1999) and Altium.

Prior to Altium, he was an Engineering Director at Mentor Graphics, focused on advanced product development. Charles was the original product architect for Expedition PCB, and an inventor of Team PCB, XtremePCB, XtremeAR and the Sketch Router. He also wrote a design book titled, "BGA Breakouts and Routing".

Inducted into the PCB Design Hall of Fame in May of 2013, by the UP Media Group for his contributions to PCB design software, Charles is widely regarded as an industry guru. Now officially retired, Charles spends his time creating beautiful photography.

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