Draftsman has been a valuable asset to designers since Altium Designer 16. Although some users may have found it to be incomplete due to their unique board requirements, Draftsman has helped many designs go to production. Since its introduction Draftsman has evolved more and more into what it is today: a robust, stable, and powerful PCB drawing tool, specifically made to help designers automate their fabrication and assembly drawing process.
Take a look at some of the improvements over the years.
We first introduced Draftsman, allowing people to quickly make their fabrication and assembly drawings from within the same tool they used to design their PCB. Right out of the gate Draftsman could place multiple views across multiple pages including assembly, fabrication, drill drawing, layer stack and more; with the added ability to create custom templates and dimensions right within the document without having to export to a mechanical tool.
The release of Draftsman for Altium Designer 17 was yet another step forward in completing the first stage of Draftsman. This included support for panelization, outjobs, isometric views, and the ability to add geometric tolerances, all of which were greatly appreciated by our community.
Last year’s Altium Designer 18 release of Draftsman brought with it a new and improved version of Draftsman. With the move to 64-bit architecture, Draftsman became much quicker and more reliable than its previous versions. This version of Draftsman was geared towards improving existing functionality and brought with it the ability to add additional layers in both the fabrication and assembly views, 3D view support, and support for new drawing types.
Draftsman, which is included for free in Altium Designer, is finally where we wanted it to be when we first conceived it. Now, that doesn’t mean we’re done growing, on the contrary — we’re just beginning. Let’s take a look at the latest updates with Altium Designer 19.
Customizable Views for Fabrication and Assembly Drawings
Draftsman has always been about customization and this release is no different. With the new Draftsman in Altium Designer 19 you can now customize which layers are visible on your fabrication and assembly drawings. Display exactly what you want to show the manufacturer not just by turning on and off layers or ordering them, but by also adjusting their color and transparency levels. Draftsman gives an unparalleled level of customization to you, the designer. So what you see in your mind’s eye is what you see on your documentation.
Board Assembly View Showing Mask, Topology, Through-holes, and Pads
Board Region View
With the new board region view in Draftsman, one is able to quickly and easily identify the different regions of a board. This is especially helpful for rigid flex designs, where you would have different layer stackups.
Callouts to these regions will automatically identify them as either flex or rigid. Just like everything in Altium Designer the board region view is also highly customizable. Choose the pattern scheme and customize it further by adjusting the color of the pattern and background.
Use the properties panel to customize the board region view
This new feature has been eagerly awaited for quite some time. Realistic view in Draftsman brings in the view of the 3D workspace right into your documentation. This allows you to accurately display your design intent. This 3D view works with both rigid and flexible circuitry. You can place several images of your design, for instance a picture for the folded rigid-flex design and one for the unfolded design. Clearly define how your board should look to your manufacturer to avoid any surprises.
Use the board realistic view to show different fold states for your flex designs
Other Draftsman Developments
In addition to the major updates above there are also other smaller but still notable updates that were made in this version of Altium Designer.
Special Strings in Tables
Custom tables are not new in this version of Draftsman, but what is new is the ability to place special strings within the cells of the table. This is very helpful for creating something like a title block. You can use the same strings as you would in your PCB in the Draftsman document. Things like Project name, sheet number, author, time, date, etcetera. What else is great is that you can copy and paste directly from a spreadsheet to your custom table in Draftsman; this eliminates the need to manually transfer data, reducing risk and time spent.
Use special strings for custom tables
Center marks are perfect for identifying the center of drill and mounting holes. Center marks work for any arc or circle objects in the drawing document, snapping to the center point (radius origin) of the arc or circle in question. What’s also nice is that these center marks can be rotated, this may be helpful for documenting the angular placement of circles and arcs in a drawing.
The last new feature to mention is the format painter. The format painter will help you ensure that company syling standards are the same throughout all your documentation. This is a quick and easy way to alter already existing text styles from one text to another. Compatible text objects include editable text elements such as object Titles and Note items.
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