Skip to main content

Prototype PCB Design Software Essentials

Key Takeaways

  • The competitiveness of new product introduction makes it critical to optimize your prototype design process for effectiveness and efficiency. 

  • Your prototype PCB design software should exhibit essential attributes for managing component inventory, creating schematics, designing PCBs, verifying designs, and managing data.

  • OrCAD X delivers the essential functionality and capabilities in one program for prototype design optimization.

OrCAD X provides engineers with the prototype PCB design software essentials for efficient development

3D rendering and real-time DRC data are prototype PCB design software essentials for efficient workflow

Depending on the source, the global electronic PCB market is around or above the mid $50 billion mark and projected to only increase for the foreseeable future. The thrust across virtually all industries to employ electronics and build smarter products and systems is a key driver that will only expand. And the competition for a share of the PCB market is fierce. 

Consequently, previous design and development strategies and tools are no longer adequate. Today, PCB design is more likely to require a team of engineers who must coordinate their efforts efficiently to meet tight scheduling demands and satisfy operational and performance objectives. The best way to meet this mandate is to employ advanced prototype PCB design software with the essentials to optimize team development.  

Prototype PCB Design Software Essentials

Many PCB designs are intended for new product introductions or NPI. The board design is a custom creation with specific and well-defined performance requirements in these cases. This novelty demands that a prototype be designed and validated. The iterative design⇒build⇒test (DBT) process is no different from other circuit board development. However, as listed and discussed below, prototype PCB design software attributes are necessary for process optimization. 

Prototype PCB Design Software

PCB Design Activity



Component Inventory Management

Real-time supply chain resilient data and accurate CAD models.

Helps avoid manufacturing and/or production delays and costly redesigns due to unavailable components.

Schematic Creation

Accurate schematic symbols and effective netlist review and verification.

Helps expedite design and provides a dependable platform for circuit simulations and analyses.

PCB Layout

Efficient component placement and intelligent trace routing.

Significantly reduces the most time-consuming aspect of PCB design. time required for 

Design Verification 

In-design design rule checking (DRC) and seamless integration with specialty support programs.

Ensures manufacturability by verifying that the design adheres to CM DFMA requirements and industry classification standards.

Data Management

Flexible workspace design with real-time design revision updates and integration with standard design data file formats. 

Synchronizes and expedites internal team design and supports efficient ECAD/MCAD development.

Component Inventory Management Essentials

After the last few years' delivery bottlenecks, factory shutdowns, and component shortages, everyone’s eyes have been opened to the importance of supply chain resilience. Consequently, engineers, OEMs, and other electronics developers are prioritizing component inventory management. As shown below, the best of these incorporate real-time data to help designers make smart component choices to avoid issues such as obsolescence and counterfeits. 

OrCAD X Live BOM provides real-time component data

Real-time component data with OrCAD X Live BOM

Schematic Creation Essentials

The schematic is more than just the launchpad for prototype PCB design. To expedite schematic generation, your software tool should provide diagram flexibility and options that support and facilitate connectivity and netlist inspection, as well as simulation and analysis capabilities. As shown below, OrCAD X Capture includes PSpice integration to ensure your circuit design will satisfy its performance requirements.

 FSeamless PSpice integration is included in the OrCAD X Capture environment

OrCAD X Capture includes integration with industry leading PSpice analysis and simulation capability. 

PCB Layout Essentials

PCB layout is probably the design task where you can be the most creative. However, there are guidelines and industry standards, such as spacing, creepage and clearance distances, that bound component placement and routing options. For efficiency, your layout environment should include advanced automation tools, like auto-placement and auto-routing, while allowing you to specify board locations and signal paths manually. OrCAD X Presto PCB Editor, shown below, combines the best of these in one prototype PCB design software tool. 

OrCAD X Presto PCB Editor  gives engineers the ability to route traces and leverage auto-routing functionality manually

Routing traces with OrCAD X Presto PCB Editor

Design Verification Essentials

Prototype development invariably requires multiple DBT cycles to maximize design quality and arrive at a level ready for low-volume production. However, the number of cycles, time for bring-up, and manufacturing costs can be significantly reduced with an advanced PCB layout environment where DRC information is available throughout the process. This capability avoids the complex accumulated error list and provides real-time data, as shown below when errors can be corrected quickly and easily.  

OrCAD X Presto PCB layout design environment with real-time DRC pane

Data Management Essentials

For many, data management is synonymous with product lifetime management or PLM. Although monitoring the lifecycle of an electronic product is essential for risk management and identifying revision needs, etc., data management for effective prototype development should start with the design process itself. For example, a common drawback for co-design efforts, especially for internal teams that may be remote from each other, is the inability of team members to communicate efficiently. OrCAD X successfully addresses this issue with cloud-based design data synchronization and real-time communication

The Best Prototype PCB Design Software Solution

Irrespective of skill level, in order to design prototypes effectively and efficiently, you need the right EDA tool capabilities. Cadence, the industry leader in advanced PCB Design and Analysis Software, delivers the essentials for prototype PCB design software with the new OrCAD X platform.

Leading electronics providers rely on Cadence products to optimize power, space, and energy needs for a wide variety of market applications. To learn more about our innovative solutions, talk to our team of experts or subscribe to our YouTube channel.