The Best Free Printed Circuit Board Design Software
Printed Circuit Board Design Resources & Tips from Advanced Circuits
Advanced Circuits is North America's third largest printed circuit board manufacturer and has countless resources for circuit board designers.
Whether you are designing printed circuit boards for small devices for the consumer electronics market or advanced circuit boards for aerospace or medical markets, Advanced Circuits is able to help you at every step of way - from prototype to large scale production and even with PCB Assembly.
Software for Printed Circuit Board Design
Finding a good circuit board design software to layout your PCB is the first thing you should do. Before spending time on your PCB design, it is important that the software you have selected has the capabilities to produce the design per your requirements. Some software available may be very limiting. Some limit the size of the board, number of layers, and do not produce certain features, so looking carefully into the software capabilities is key.
Advanced Circuits' circuit board design software, PCB Artist®, is a very powerful tool capable of up to 28 layer PCB designs with many advanced layout capabilities and helpful wizards to guide you through things like Parts Creation. The design tool also has a huge library of more than 500K parts to save you time in the design process.
To download the full version of the software for free, please click on the link at the top of this page.
Printed Circuit Board Design File Generation
After your printed circuit board design is complete, you will need to export files to send to the manufacturer. The files required for PCB manufacturing are Gerber format. However, if you are using PCB Artist® to create your circuit boards, you will be able to order your circuit boards from Advanced Circuits within the software.
If you are not using PCB Artist to design your printed circuit board layout, You will need to export a Gerber image file from the printed circuit board design software used for each of the conductor layers, soldermask layers and legend layers. Please note that if the soldermask images are the same for both sides that you submit a file for each anyway. The preferred format for Gerber file submission is 274-x with 4 digits after the decimal point.
If your PCB design package does not have the capability to produce Gerber 274-x files, you will need to use 274-d which will require the image file as well as the aperture report. If you have the option to set the position of the image on the film please set this to lower left corner. It is also preferred to have the board outline in the soldermask images and drill drawings only.
Don't worry if you are not sure you have everything put together properly for manufacturing. When you order your printed circuit boards from Advanced Circuits, you will benefit from the industry's largest CAM engineering team to review your files prior to production to ensue you have everything you need for processing and will thoroughly check for manufacturability issues in your design.
Check Your Circuit Board Design for Manufacturability Issues Online Before Ordering to Avoid Delays
To save you time and money, Advanced Circuits offers a free tool, FreeDFM®, that will check your printed circuit board design files to find any manufacturability issues in your design and identify the ones that we can correct automatically when you place your order. This helps engineers avoid "On-Hold" periods and will actually save you up to $100 every time you order after using the software.
The online tool only takes a few minutes to review the files submitted and send you a detailed report of all the issues found. For more information about our free tool, please click here.