This article was written by Ruchi Gupta.
A Printed Circuit Board (PCB) is an essential component in all but the simplest electronic devices.
These boards support and connect various electronic components through the use of features such as conductive pads and tracks.
Despite their importance, designing PCBs for non-commercial use has not been an easy prospect for anyone but the most experienced electrical engineers. However, the advent of 3D PCB design software has made the process much easier.
As stated earlier, almost all of the electronic products we use today are constructed using one or more PCBs. They are necessary parts of computers, portable electronic devices, and even entertainment products. They are also used for testing equipment and prototypes, manufacturing equipment, and even spacecraft.
A typical PCB holds ICs and other components that facilitate their interconnection. These printed circuit boards are made out of copper sheets that have been laminated onto a nonconductive substrate. The essential components like resistors and capacitors are then soldered onto the board or embedded directly in the substrate.
The PCB Design Process
At one point or another, electrical engineers, technicians, or even amateur designers will need to design and create a functional, high-quality PCB that can meet any objective. Even if you are using PCB design software, it is important to know the fundamentals of how printed circuit boards work.
Printed circuit boards allow the various components and connections in a device to communicate electronically.
Unlike earlier circuits, PCBs prevent short circuits and electrical failures at the wiring junctions. Not only are their connections very durable, but they are also easily changeable.
The PCB design process should begin with the discovery of what functions the board must be able to accomplish.
Then, the designer must finalize its final design concept. This concept should include the PCB’s design features, the functions it has and performs, how it will connect with other circuits, its placements, as well as the board’s final dimension approximations.
The designer should also be able to select the materials to be used on the PCB. A good PCB design software should be able to navigate through all the steps involved in the conceptualization, implementation, and documentation.
Selecting the Best PCB Design Software
Numerous software products are currently available on the market. They vary from the simple to the complex with a number of sophisticated features. They are also sold at a wide range of prices, from freeware to the high-end options.
In the end, your choice of software should be driven by your specific requirements and preferences. That said, you can use this criteria to guide your choice of PBC design software:
1. Ease of Use.
Despite its level of sophistication, good PBC software should be easy to use.
It should not take you an excessive amount of time to perform simple tasks on the program.
2. Standardized Software.
Ensure that the software you choose to use is standardized and widely used in the industry.
It is extremely frustrating to spend time working on a design only to find the output is not compatible with other designs.
This is a critical feature when working on a group project, where different designers work on various parts of the same PCB.
Using standardized software will also encourage collaboration between designers for larger applications.
Depending on the features a particular software has, it may be suitable for certain applications but not for others. Consider a program’s features against your design needs to find the best software for you.
Ultimately, the choice of software is subjective according to your preferences. However, using this guide will help you narrow down the choices and select the best software for your PCB design.