It’s amazing how mobile phone technology has evolved since I first laid my hand on one. Back then, a mobile phone lets you just what it is claimed to do; making phone calls. Then, enter a generation of glass-covered ‘smart-phones’ which also functions as a camera, music player and more.
Likewise, circuit design software has grown to be more comprehensive since I created my first project on one. It’s unimaginable how tedious it is to route the components or to create custom footprint libraries. Like the mobile phone, circuit design software has gone through phases of evolution.
How The Right Circuit Design Software Could Shorten Development Time
For PCB designers, the circuit design software is mandatory to produce any functional PCB. Circuit design software allows schematics and PCB layouts to be created and checked before being manufactured. Using a circuit design software minimizes errors on the prototypes.
It’s undeniable that the electronics industry is getting more competitive. PCB designers are under pressure to cut short development time. It doesn’t help with the increasing demands of smaller and more powerful electronics.
Therefore, getting the right circuit design software is crucial in reducing development time. For example, a quick search tool helps to immediately locate specific components amongst hundreds of them. Creating custom components should be done within a few clicks instead involving tedious work of dragging the outlines and labels.
Your job as a PCB designer goes beyond creating and routing circuits on a software. You’ll need to ensure the manufacturing is set up properly. Having a comprehensive BOM management and manufacturing files generator in the circuit design software ensures you get the required files in a few simple steps.
A PCB design software that is primarily focused on circuit and PCB design is considered impressive a couple of decades ago. But without the necessary time-saving features, they are inferior in today’s demands. Design reusability is a concept that is embraced by top circuit design software.
What Should You Look For In A Circuit Design Software
It’s a given that a circuit design software should be flawless when converting schematics into PCB layout. Any mistakes during the process will result in financial losses if left undetected by the software.
However, you ought to consider the following features that make your life as a PCB designer simpler.
Instead of investing in a separate SPICE software, it helps if the circuit design software is built with the circuit analysis feature. The SPICE simulator allows thorough simulation and analysis on the circuit before you commit it to a PCB layout.
Component Library And Management
If you’re tasked with innovating existing designs, you could be testing out the latest components on the market. Having a circuit design software with an updated component library spares you the effort to manually create the schematic component and footprint.
A comprehensive component management system helps streamline parts usage in a team.
The circuit design software should also feature a comprehensive component management system, that allows standardizing the component library across a team of designers. This removes the need to cross-checking preferred parts, suppliers and other dynamic parameters for each project.
As a PCB designer, you’ll want to be in control. But having routing-assist or interacting routing features on the circuit design software doesn’t hurt. If anything, the feature helps you to juggle your way through a dense and complicated PCB layout.
An interactive router makes routing complicated design easier.
Your job isn’t done after completing the routing with no errors. There are issues like electromagnetic interference and heat points that will affect the PCB. Having analytical tools on the circuit design software allows you to detect the issues before the PCB produced.
The boundary between electronics and mechanical design is getting blurrier, particularly with the emergence of IoT wearables. As a PCB designer, you need to be concerned about the mechanical aspects of the PCB. A built-in 3D design viewer will be handy to ensure the design is meeting mechanical constraints.
Circuit Design Software: Free vs. Paid
The big question for many PCB designers is whether to use a free or paid circuit design software. Free circuit design software spares you from the financial investment, but generally, they are limited in terms of features and design complexity. It’s hard to be competitive as a PCB designer when you’re limited by these constraints.
If you’re looking for a scalable solution, in which you will have no issues tackling complex projects with fellow team members, a paid circuit design software is the better option. With the suite of design and analysis tools available through Cadence, you’re certain to find something to meet your needs. Paid circuit design software like OrCAD PCB Designer is more comprehensive and packed with features that reduce design time.
If you’re looking to learn more about how Cadence has the solution for you, talk to us and our team of experts.