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How to Find the Transistor PCB Parts You Need for Your Circuit Board Design

Zachariah Peterson
|  Created: February 3, 2021
How to Find the Transistor Parts You Need for Your Circuit Board

Transistors are fundamental devices for everything from power supplies to high-power integrated circuits for embedded computing. Many power electronics products, sensors, low-power analog systems, and other systems requiring high-power switching need transistors to operate properly. When you need to find and place transistors in your new design, you need a complete set of PCB supply chain tools for finding transistor parts for your design.

When you use the complete set of PCB design tools in Altium Designer, you can do more than just place existing PCB transistor footprints in your PCB. Altium Designer includes the complete set of PCB supply chain features you need to find transistor parts, including footprints and specifications for discrete transistor footprints. When you’re designing systems with discrete transistors, use the best PCB supply chain tools in Altium Designer.


The industry’s only EDA application that gives designers access to a huge range of transistor parts, supply chain tools, and the industry’s best PCB design features.

Even though CPUs contain billions of transistor footprints, many PCBs still need discrete transistors to operate properly. Every part that gets placed on a PCB needs to have an important set of information to enable front-end design and back-end manufacturability. Designers should be aware of footprint transistor requirements for parts to ensure proper fabrication and solderability during assembly.

To keep yields high, designers need a complete set of PCB supply chain tools that give them CAD data for transistor parts used in a PCB layout. The best way to access the supply chain and an accurate PCB footprint transistor is to work in Altium Designer’s integrated design environment. When electronic parts search features are accessible alongside standard ECAD tools, a design team can stay productive and access the parts data they need for defect-free manufacturing.

Understanding PCB Transistor Footprints and Packages

PCB transistors come in a variety of through-hole and surface-mount packages. Perhaps the most common discrete transistor for use in analog signaling and power electronics systems is the through-hole MOSFET or similar high-voltage/high-current components. Other components that are specialized for specific applications are BJT and FET components in surface mount packages, such as the SOT package or even QFN packages.

PCB transistor parts for power electronics applications generally include a die-attached metal paddle that can also function as a ground pin. The principal function of this additional metal pad is to remove heat directly from the semiconductor die and dissipate it away from the component. This is an important part of thermal management for PCB transistors as the component can fail as soon as the junction exceeds its absolute maximum temperature.

MOSFET pinout transistor parts

MOSFET pinouts for TO (left) and SOT (right) packages.

Power MOSFETs and other transistors that need an attached heat sink may have problems with soldering during assembly if the heatsink is being soldered back to an internal plane through a via. This causes the component to drop too much heat into the plane during soldering, which can create a cold joint or tombstoning. As such, thermal vias can be used on the pad for the die-attached paddle to prevent a weak solder joint. Doing this in your transistor on circuit board design requires finding or creating accurate PCB footprints for your transistors before creating your PCB layout.

Altium Designer Makes Footprint Transistor and Library Creation Simple

Altium Designer includes a world-class set of CAD tools for creating circuit board layouts and CAD models for electronic components. Altium Designer is built specifically for electronics design, and the standard set of CAD tools makes component creation quick and easy. You can also use the IPC Compliant Footprint Wizard to create components in standard packages for use in your PCB layout.

PCB footprint transistor parts

Quickly create transistor parts footprints with the IPC Compliant Footprint Wizard in Altium Designer.

Find the Parts You Need in Altium Designer’s Supply Chain Tools

Accurate fabrication and assembly with high yield and low defect rates require getting your PCB footprint transistor correct early during design and layout. This applies to any component in your PCB layout, not just transistor parts. When you have a comprehensive look into the supply chain and access to manufacturer part data, it’s easy to spot components with accurate, verified footprints to use in your transistor on the circuit board layout.

Altium Designer includes the Manufacturer Part Search Panel to help you find the components you need to complete your circuit board design. This tool in Altium Designer lets designers filter down by component specifications, availability of PCB footprints, price, mounting type, and lifecycle status. This is the easiest way to find your components and ensure your board will be sourceable at scale.

Easily Finish Your Design With Altium Designer’s Supply Chain Tools and Layout Features

The supply chain management features in Altium Designer are accessible alongside your other important design tools. This lets you find and place transistor parts with accurate PCB footprints, schematic symbols, and 3D models. In addition, Altium Designer gives you access to pricing and component stock data from major distributors, helping you stay within your budget and find the perfect components for your design.

PCB supply chain transistor parts

The Manufacturer Part Search panel in Altium Designer helps you find the transistor in PCB you need.

Get Your Circuit Board into Fabrication With Altium Designer

Once you’ve created your components, found additional parts, arranged your PCB layout, and routed traces, it’s time to think about manufacturing your circuit board. Your fabrication files will need to include data from your circuit board layout, including replicated data from your PCB footprint transistor and other features. When you need to quickly prepare your design for manufacturing, Altium Designer includes the tools you need to create standard documentation.

Your manufacturing files can be instantly created from your schematics and PCB layout data when you use Altium Designer. There are no external software applications needed, everything you need for manufacturing file generation is included in Altium Designer. Designers can also quickly clean their BOM to remove obsolete components, find replacements for out-of-stock parts, and optimize their costs to stay within a production budget.

Use the Comprehensive Set of PCB Design Features in Altium Designer

With the complete set of PCB design features in Altium Designer, it’s easy to prepare a new board for production in an integrated design environment. Everything needed for front-end component selection and schematic design is accessible in the same application as your physical design and layout tools. Finally, you have everything needed to prepare a standard file package for fabrication and assembly.

Altium 365 transistor parts

Store, share, and access your transistor parts data for your Altium Designer projects through the Altium 365 platform.

When you need footprint transistor parts data for your PCBs, don’t use a 3rd party parts service. Altium Designer includes the tools you need to stay productive and find the parts you need. When you make the switch to Altium Designer, you’ll also have access to the industry’s best circuit board design tools in a single program.

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 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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