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OrCAD X for PCB Design Managers

Key Takeaways

  • Schematic: Shared workspaces allow team members to collaborate locally or remotely within designs while ensuring file integrity.

  • Library footprints: Librarians have multiple avenues for part creation/association, including content from leading vendors.

  • Board file: The highly customizable Constraint Manager simplifies design for manufacturing (DFM) rulesets to minimize revisions.

View of a 3D board assembly.

A PCB design manager oversees transforming design files into a fully realized 3D board.

Much of the work that goes into a PCB remains hidden: a board with a double-digit layer count only shows the layout on the top and bottom layers without performing various forms of destructive and nondestructive analysis. Further abstracting, crucial documentation like the bill of materials (BOM), schematic, footprint library entries, and mechanical constraints issued by the engineering department dramatically influence the final production's quality, requiring careful oversight. A PCB design manager has to navigate these processes to ensure team members are empowered to optimize board performance; fortunately, OrCAD X radically simplifies this structure with a team-oriented environment (featuring local and remote collaboration) with an easy-to-use interface for all levels of ECAD familiarity. 

Breaking Down OrCAD X Features for a PCB Design Manager


Library footprints

Board file

  • Workspace collaboration in OrCAD X Capture keeps teams connected, no matter the distance

  • PSpice modeling keeps designs true to manufacturing and environmental performance for a quicker and less expensive design turnaround

  • Multiple options for creating or importing footprints, including content from leading footprint vendors

  • Component Explorer and Live BOM help design teams source and locate BOM components (including replacements) all within OrCAD X Capture

  • Constraint Manager settings afford design teams significant latitude in customizing design rule check settings for a seamless transition to production

  • Design Review and Markup keeps team member communication where it’s most effective

How OrCAD X Benefits a PCB Design Manager

Managing a design begins at the schematic level. The association between the logically representative schematic symbols and manufacturing accurate footprints establishes the critical link between the abstract connections and physical board layout. As such, designers need to carefully consider the accuracy of the design files at every level of the design to prevent avoidable errors in logic, incorrect footprint data, or poor layouts that undermine the PCB design process.


The schematic contains all of the logical connections between symbolic representations of the circuit components. The schematic acts as the basis for the high-level communication between components, i.e., it describes the which and where aspect of component connections, but not the how that influences the experimental performance against an idealized simulation environment. The last point is vital: a schematic requires simulation to observe and test responses while the design evolves, sometimes with new features, functionality, and changes to overall design intent inspired or necessitated from the results of previous simulations. While simulation cannot recreate manufacturing conditions with 100% accuracy, editing the logical model is significantly quicker and more cost-effective than working with a physical proof of concept or prototype board for each design iteration. Moreover, advancements in the sophistication of simulation models mean the difference between the model and the physical board is minimal.

PSpice gives design teams the ability to simulate numerous specifics of signal characteristics, including:

  • Parallel simulation improves the output speed of manufacturing-oriented analyses like Monte Carlo simulation and parametric/temperature sweeps.
  • Transient sources for modeling automotive pulses according to ISO 7367-2 and ISO 16750-2.
  • Noise contribution toggling for thermal, shot, and flicker noise.
  • Audio input simulation options improve accuracy with bit-depth and sampling rate options for appropriate applications.

View of Component Explorer showing Source options for PSpice simulation.

Component Explorer supports ISO-standard automotive pulse transients.

Library Footprints

The library footprints represent the physical dimensions and pinouts of the components that tie together the high-level connection between components of the schematic to a representative area within the board file. Library management is critical to reduce time spent making redundant component footprints and re-verification of known good footprints. Accurate footprints are necessary to ensure that components have the minimum space required for placement and assembly. 

Fortunately, designers have many options when it comes to footprint library management. Translating standard package dimensions into a footprint is straightforward – Part Authoring supports the simultaneous creation and association of schematic symbols, footprints, and PSpice models for the comprehensive implementation of components at the logical, mechanical, and electrical levels. Users can also create footprints from nonstandard packages within OrCAD X Presto PCB Editor or integrate leading third-party footprint content providers directly into their workspace using the Unified Search feature of the OrCAD X Capture Component Explorer. 

Workspace showing sortable component list from a vendor, with properties and schematic/footprint data visible under the Property panel.

Workspace showing sortable component list from a vendor, with properties and schematic/footprint data visible under the Property panel.

Board File

After finalizing the footprint associations of the schematic, the board file takes the netlist from the schematic symbols. Layout designers will implement and optimize the physical placement of components and route signals while remaining mindful of the manufacturing constraints for acceptable yield and quality returns. The Constraint Manager will provide the framework for a successful layout while minimizing time spent on unproducible or suboptimal layouts requiring later correction. The Constraint Manager is available within OrCAD X Capture before netlisting the design; here, users can define electrical rules for the logical connections that will migrate to the board with the rest of the pertinent schematic information. Within OrCAD X Presto PCB Editor, users can further define the constraints of the board with physical and mechanical rulesets that offer additional coverage for design/manufacturing necessities.

View of the Physical constraints for all layers in the Constraint Manager.

Physical constraints define trace width, blind/buried via stagger, tolerance, and more for all nets within OrCAD X Presto PCB Editor.

Additional OrCAD X Options for Team Collaboration

OrCAD X OnCloud Workspaces offers an excellent cloud-enabled collaboration environment for design teams. Here, admins can set privilege roles for other team members that define their ability to edit or view design files and avoid harming file integrity. By keeping team members focused on their respective edit/view privileges, it’s possible to accelerate workflows. Design Review and Markup also support team communication by allowing the team to comment directly within the PCB design file for a more targeted and context-driven review approach. Instead of searching through documentation and emails, design teams can directly assess performance or manufacturability concerns in the design file. 

To better meet PCB production's demands and time constraints, a left shift (a proactive approach to manufacturing where some of the onus of quality outcomes move toward the design end) is necessary. OrCAD X has the perfect answer with Live DOC: design managers can quickly view documentation output with standard views and templates. And since Live DOC automatically synchronizes with the design, users don’t have to worry about manufacturing documentation that diverges from the most recently updated board file. Design managers can converge on manufacturing output files with designers by assessing final checks as the board moves toward completion instead of afterward.

Live DOC simplifies documentation output while encouraging a left-shift philosophy.

Live DOC gives design managers the ability to prepare and review documentation during ongoing layouts.

Cadence Has Solutions for Design Teams of All Sizes

A PCB design manager looking to improve team performance can benefit from the new and improved features of the OrCAD X platform for faster and more comprehensive team collaboration that accelerates turnaround times. For more in-depth signal integrity, EM, thermal, and manufacturing analyses, check out Cadence’s PCB Design and Analysis Software to take your design team’s capabilities to the next level.

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