Driving for most of us is an intuitive utility given the majority’s need to move around our current infrastructure. Many of us don’t think twice as we grab the car keys and head to the store for another latte. Although complex machines, drivers intuitively rely on fingertip commands to move the car down the road.
Using PCB layout tools could be the same with cleverly built platforms emphasizing ease of use over knowledge of intricate operational details. As the industry continues evolving, it relies on its users to learn intricate and cumbersome commands incidental to the final result. Rather than having commands that directly drive a need, intelligence is needed to unravel process steps before performing the final action. Couldn’t unnecessary commands be hidden from the designer?
Finding proper schematic capture tools to document your board and components throughout your design process can help. But if the software doesn’t support collaboration or doesn’t include everything you need, then what good is it? Vendors include ancillary steps to layout a printed circuit board, but think about it: would you be driving a car if you had to bring your own steering wheel?
Design is Difficult When Easy Moves Crash and Burn
Using present day PCB layout tools can seem archaic when simple commands require lengthy setup. Having placeholder 3D models within a component that the designer is unable to modify is perplexing. Looking to update the rudimentary 3D model becomes impossible. The model offered in the EDA tool is locked with no easy access for updating.
Looking to the community for support results in several sets of instructions, each with omissions that lead to dead ends. Checking back from email notifications leads to more and different methodologies to updating the model. One communication relates that the EDA vendor will be updating their layout tool to include 3D model editing in its next release. Confusion sets in as workarounds are attempted and the tool crashes.
Switch to a tool that lets you drive your model updates easily
Driving Recklessly Accelerates Into Empty Progress
Trying a workaround turns into hours of directory manipulation causing multiple crashes. Stress builds as attempts to reassign an updated 3D model to a component fails. Opening another design and trying to save is fruitless. Intricate notes are required while saving a copy in order to delete and try again without forgetting any progress you’d made. Continuing with scurrilous note-taking results in deletion of several folders until help arrives in a solution thread.
The solution thread contains several contradictory processes to instantiate the updated 3D model. Plodding through each results in countless crashes. Time is spent reopening and redoing, crashing, and deleting more directories. Finally a reuse directory container is remade with new directories containing the 3D model wanted. Time spent to recover from system crashes just to load a different model into a component becomes ill advised.
Getting Into Gear With Elegant 3D Transmission
Living the dream would be easy with access to a 3D PCB Editor within layout where component updates are readily permitted. There would be no need for trial and error with contradictory processes causing multiple crashes to system software. Importing 3D component models is supported and the 3D models are easily tweaked within the editor. There are no boundaries to getting the model instantiated into your design precisely as required.
Easily assign a 3D model type by embedding or linking from Properties Panel
The tool performs exactly as commanded given it’s elegantly-designed algorithms to handle intricate 3D parameters and modeling demands. To check the 3D component update, the environment quickly moves between 2D and 3D representations of the PCA to visually check your commanded updates. Visual check includes zooming, rotating, and traveling into the board to check critical interfaces demanded by placement of a 3D component.
3D is Sporty With Altium Designer 18
There is a powerful EDA tool that provides an easy-to-use 3D PCB Editor within layout, and that is Altium Designer 18. Algorithms are the foundation of an easy-to-use menu within layout where you can create or import 3D component models. Links to vendor databases of 3D models are accessible with the push of a button within the 3D Model Type Properties Panel. Options to embed the model or use the library vault to access 3D models is also available. Choices move your design into definitions that complement your layout.
PCB menu opens from Panels to allow model selection
The Properties Panel includes total access to 3D body component models including placement location, vendor part number and layer location, and 3D Model Type. Many choices are available for 3D Model Type including generic, extruded, cylinder, or sphere if drawing a custom shape. However, using models from vendor libraries is directly accessible either from Altium’s Library Vault or from linking to vendor models directly. All is easily accessed from the same menu with options to switch from one to other before settling on the final instantiation of the 3D model for the selected component.
Should you want to browse current design components the PCB panel may be opened from the Panels button at the lower right of the layout window (see above). Properties of the placed component may be used together with the Properties Panel to update the part’s 3D model. Each and every property of the 3D model may be updated or removed within easily-accessed menus.
Any PCB designer working working on schematics, component placement, or translating their circuits to other members of their team will find immense value in 3D modeling. Traces and board layers will be prominent and you’ll be able to discuss your designs with any engineer looking at them.
If you’d like to see how easy it is to layout your design in 3D using Altium Designer 18, talk to an expert at Altium today.
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PCB Design Tools for Electronics Design and DFM. Information for EDA Leaders.More Content by Altium Designer