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Advanced PCB Footprint Generator

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the requirements for an effective PCB footprint generator is the first step to selecting one that meets your design needs. 

  • Accurate and timely component data and information are critical for an efficient PCB footprint generation process.

  • OrCAD X delivers advanced capabilities; including seamless schematic integration to help you reduce the unnecessary time and costs typically associated with footprint generation. 

PCB footprint generator quality determines fabricated board layout accuracy

Accurate component footprints begin with an effective PCB footprint generator 

Undoubtedly, one of the most challenging aspects of PCB design is the creation of component libraries. Yet, the quality of your component library that includes schematic symbols, PCB footprints and 3D models for each component can make or break your circuit board development. In particular, PCB footprints affect whether or not your board can be fabricated and/or assembled. Consequently, it is important to have an effective PCB footprint generator that satisfies essential requirements.

PCB Footprint Generation Requirements



Component availability

The first consideration prior to embarking on footprint generation is whether the number of components available will satisfy your volume needs. Overlooking this essential step can lead to costly development or production interruptions or time-consuming redesigns and unnecessary and excessive manufacturing costs. 

Synchronization with other CAD model elements

The ability to seamlessly convert from schematic to PCB layout is essential for efficient PCB design. In the case of  an EDA tool, inconsistent conversion between different design stages, including translation to formats like STEP files for ECAD/MCAD integration, can lead to excessive errors, resulting in additional design time and man-hours.  

Dimensional accuracy

For fabrication, dimensional accuracy of your component footprint is critical. Errors here will result in unusable or scrapped boards and unnecessary manufacturing costs.

Reference indicator inclusion

For many components, reference indicators are essential to ensure that the component will be placed accurately. Otherwise, operation may be erratic, or even fail once installed.

Adheres to industry standards

Industry standards; such as IPC-7351, IPC-2221 and IPC-2222, provide rules and guidelines that must be considered to ensure your footprint generation adheres to requirements that allow your board to be built.


Most IC manufacturers attempt to create components that adhere to standard industry package formats. However, there will be cases where a custom component package will need to be designed. 

Ensuring your PCB footprint generator incorporates the attributes above is one of the keys to process optimization from which all stages of board development will benefit. 

Footprint Generation Process

When creating or generating footprints for PCB layout it is important to follow good footprint design guidelines, which include:

PCB Footprint Generation Guidelines

  • Verify component availability, based on development objectives
  • Use standard component package models, if possible
  • Rely on manufacturer datasheet information for dimensions and special instructions
  • Include all silkscreen data; such as reference indicators, that are essential for placement and operation
  • Be sure to include all relevant information that your contract manufacturer (CM) needs to accurately fabricate, place and solder your component

Following the guidelines above provides the foundation necessary for successful PCB footprint generation. However, doing so can be an arduous process. And any errors or inaccuracies can be quite expensive. For example, one incorrect footprint may require that several component locations be changed, as well as the need to reroute the traces for each of these relocations. 

Depending on the specific components and board layout, these adjustments may necessitate other changes; such as via locations, layer configurations, grounding, etc. Now, if the need for revision is not discovered until the board is in manufacturing, or afterwards, the additional wasted time and cost can be significant. For these and other reasons, it is incumbent on you to employ the best PCB footprint generator for your designs.

OrCAD X PCB Footprint Generator

As discussed above, creating footprints is not a simple task. Nor is it an activity to be performed without integration with other stages; such as schematic creation and design verification. The best way to ensure to meet all of the requirements and mitigate the costly challenges is to employ advanced PCB footprint generator capabilities, as included with OrCAD X. 

OrCAD X PCB Footprint Generator Advantages

  • Real time component data with Live BOM to check component availability and supply chain resiliency prior to investing resources for design.

  • Seamless schematic ⇔ PCB layout integration and component symbol-footprint synchronization.

  • Robust footprint customization functionality with OrCAD X Presto PCB Editor to make sure footprints accurately reflect manufacturer specifications and comply with industry standards.

  • The ability for multiple designers to work on or revise layout changes with Live DOC, which dramatically reduces the time required to address footprint or other revisions. 

As listed above, OrCAD X provides several advanced capabilities, 

The OrCAD X interactive multi-panel design environment helps expedite your board design process. (Source: Cadence video)

The OrCAD X interactive multi-panel design environment helps expedite your board design process. (Source: Cadence video)

that accelerates not only PCB footprint generation, but your entire PCB design process. An advanced PCB footprint generator, as inherent within OrCAD X, is one of the many Cadence PCB Design and Analysis Software tools available to help you maximize innovation and manufacturability, while minimizing or eliminating unnecessary time and costs.

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