Designing PCBs (printed circuit boards) requires more than just an in-depth understanding of the circuit that you’re trying to build. You need the benefits that come from experience and the ability to bring innovative technologies and techniques to bear. PCB design software can help simplify the process, ensure better accuracy in design, and can even help you eliminate problems that might affect PCB performance and lifespan.
However, not all PCB design software solutions are the same, and you’ll need to make an informed decision on your needs. What should you look for when considering the use of such software? We’ll explore the most important differentiation points below.
Like creating images in Photoshop, you should be able to add layers to your PCB design. This allows you to add elements, remove them, adjust individual element types, and do all of this without disturbing the rest of the PCB design. However, not all PCB design software can accommodate the same number of layers. Obviously, the more layers the software can support, the more detailed your planning can be and the more easily you can modify specific design elements without disturbing the whole. With PCB Artist, you can add up to 28 layers, simply and easily.
Custom Layout Capabilities
While all circuit boards share specific similarities, they’re all different. You must ensure that your PCB design software gives you the ability to layout the PCB in a way that works best for your design. This ensures that you’re able to create fully-functional PCBs that fit within your application, whether you’re interested in IoT, toy design, PC and laptop design, or something completely different. With custom layout capabilities, you can create a board to fit any application, and then add layers to build in the necessary functionality.
Sure, PCB design software can allow you to create your own custom parts, but let’s face it – most PCBs use the same range of parts for various functions. Why go through the trouble of having to design those components by hand every single time you need to use them? It’s so much simpler to choose from a parts library, then just click and add the necessary part to your PCB schematic. It’s easy to move the part around your design and then adjust it to fit the circuit’s orientation. With PCB Artist, you can access a parts library of over 500,000 of the most commonly used parts, saving you an immense amount of time and stress.
Of course, there is always a chance that you’ll need to add a part to your PCB that isn’t within a library. Or, you might need to add a custom symbol or portion of a footprint. Doing so should be simple, easy, and intuitive. With PCB Artist, you get the benefits of a fully-fledged creation wizard that allows you to easily create custom parts, add custom symbols, and more with just a few clicks of your mouse. It really can be that simple.
Design Status Reports
If you have ever wondered what the status was of your PCB board design, you know it can be challenging to determine where the project stands. With PCB Artist, you have access to design status reports so that the entire team can be on the same page. That means no more worrying about a project falling behind without stakeholders being aware of the issue, and improves your ability to meet product needs and deadlines.
The Right Files in the Right Format
If you have ever tried to design prototype boards and then send those designs to a board manufacturer, you know the challenges inherent with ensuring that you’ve got the right files in the right format. A single misstep here could mean hours more work, or even missing deadlines and failing to deliver on client expectations. With PCB Artist, you know you have the right files in the right format every single time.
Tips and Tools
While one PCB designer might have years of experience and expertise, another might just be starting out and lack the same level of knowledge. The right PCB design software will provide a good starting point for designers of all experience and knowledge levels. Look for an option that provides you with tips and tools that help you improve production, use the various tool types effectively, create parts quickly and easily, and more. PCB Artist meets all of these requirements.
There’s a learning curve with every new software suite that you use. However, you cannot afford to spend a lot of time learning through trial and error. Instead, look for a PCB design software option that gives you in-depth tutorials. These should you walk you through everything from board layout to part design, and more. With access to high-quality tutorials, such as those offered with PCB Artist, you can reduce the learning curve dramatically and begin using your software more effectively almost immediately.
Additional Features and Functionality
In addition to the capabilities outlined above, you should also consider a few other key features and functions prior to choosing PCB design software. For instance, you may want to ensure that the software comes with a file formatter, a design rule and check function, component autoplace to simplify placement and alignment, adjustable navigation, and a library manager to simplify things for you.
Making Your Choice
Whether you’re interested in creating PCBs for your students, need prototypes for testing a new design, or you’re about to ramp up into full production mode, Advanced Circuits can help. We’re proud of the recognition our free PCB design software has garnered. PCB Artist is the single most capable software suite available today, and you can use it for no cost whatsoever. Couple that with our ability to manufacture PCBs to your design specifications, and you enjoy a seamless process from beginning to end with a trusted partner. In addition, our PCB design software is available to download – just install it and you’re ready to get started designing your own custom printed circuit boards.