Tag Archives: Printed Circuit Board Fabrication

10 Best PCB Design Software

10 Best PCB Design Software

As the electronic industry is growing day by day, the demand for better and efficient printed circuit boards is also increasing. With a massive growth in wearable technology, printed circuit boards need to be of high quality and accurately designed to perform well. As we know that every electronic device either large or small, completely relies on the printed circuit board. They function as the heart of any device. Any digital gadget you are using in your daily life, either it’s your smartphone or your smartwatch, or maybe a digital calculator or most probably a digital clock, this all is possible because of the evolution in the modern printed circuit board. The rapid growth in printed circuit boards has made it possible for engineers to decrease the size of the daily used gadgets and make them available in hands.

Complex devices such as smartphones and smartwatches and military applications, all require some specific kind of printed circuit board installed into them depending on the requirement. Testing the reason for designing a printed circuit board is a task that needs to be done carefully. Designing the printed circuit board means giving a physical existence to your idea of a printed circuit board. Engineers want to use the best software for the design sign of the printed circuit board. For a better designing experience, much software is designed to help the engineers in making the best designs.

There are several choices available once you start searching for the best software to design a printed circuit board. But you need to know certain factors before designing your circuit board. Let’s look into this.

How to choose the right software for designing a PCB?

As we have discussed before, with the increasing demand for wearable technology, the demand for the best-printed circuit board design is increasing accordingly. And this process needs to be taken care of because printed circuit boards act as the main core function of any device whether it is small or large. Now the question may arise why designing is so important before the manufacturing process of printed circuit boards. The simple answer is to avoid problems.

Once the design is not done right, it can cause several problems after and before the manufacturers of printed circuit boards. It may cause the failure of the entire system which is not acceptable. So simply means to say that the design affects almost all the aspects of the circuit board. If the design is not right for the device if the material is not according to mark if the traces are not put correctly if the vias are not connected properly then the circuit board will not work or may work in some unexpected ways.

The problem may happen as lack of desired functionality and overheating which can further lead to devise failure. So, the key to success is to design the right software. But as you have seen, the market has grown up so immensely, it is not possible to choose the best software according to your requirement at once. Instead, you need to research certain factors so that you can make sure that you are choosing the right.

Easy to learn:

Well, this applies to almost every device. Even if it is not specifically electronics, it should be easy enough that it can be learned so fast. In other cases, it would overwhelm the user and the user will get distracted or lose his interest. So, the best software should be in easy language, not coding but the basic understanding should be done with keeping the user view in mind. Moreover, the learning period should be shorter as well as easy. The shorter the learning curve is, the sooner the user can start using the software. So, it is compulsory to keep the user interested in your hands.

On the other hand, a steeper learning curve means the longest period on how to do the program. In this way, the user will learn for so long without implementation and this is not the desired phase. For achieving the best experience, the user must be hitting the ground sooner by keeping the learning curve shorter. But you need to ensure that you are not compromising on specific features of the software.

Easy to use:

At first glance, the user is not looking toward the amazing features, component libraries, and automation, instead, he is looking at the ability of how easy it is to use the software. The level of its complexity will let the user decide if he should be going with a particular software or not. The developer needs to deep down the subject from user intuitiveness to accessing tools easily, this is a wide topic and difficult to handle. If the user’s interface and view of using and accessing the tool are easy then your software is the easily available choice.

The number of clicking and Keystroke should be kept as minimum as it can to avoid ambiguity in the software. Moreover, designing software by keeping the lay audience in mind is also a good approach. In this way, you will intentionally keep the software as easy as possible.

Cost:

Although the features, learning period, and complexity of using software also matter in the market, the main thing that matters is how much it costs. The cost is something that a user is going to see at first. So, it should be kept in mind that your features are not crossing the cost limit. It should be cost-friendly so users can purchase it immediately for an easy design experience.

Now you have enough idea how to choose the best software in the market for designing printed circuit boards. Let us see the best available software in the market in 2022 that you can choose without thinking for a minute.

EAGLE (Easy Applicable Graphical Layout Editor)

Eagle helps in the design of electronic EDA. It helps the designers of the electronics field specifically in designing the best-printed circuit board design by allowing them to connect different schematic circuit board diagrams. The other main feature of an eagle is its user interface which is so user-friendly and designed by keeping the lay audience in mind. It also helps in transforming the vision into files with the help of stimulation and then the Printed Circuit board Fabrication process.

Altium Designer:
Altium is another best design software for printed circuit boards. It is no less than the eagle and mostly both are compared on behalf of features because both offer easy functionality. Altium offers both 2D and 3D toggles depending upon the designer’s needs. STEP model is followed for working in Altium.

Moreover, the PCB design can be improved by using the previous designs available. The 3D model is monitored by accessing mechanical data. Additionally, Altium allows the exchange of data with MCAD systems.

Kicad:
The best feature of Kicad is that it is open source. So new features can be added daily. Many intelligent designers are contributing to the software, and it is increasing its functionality day by day. The other advantage is its easy user interface. Its first view is so user-friendly that it helps the user in maintaining the flow. Moreover, it can be run on Windows and Linux.

EasyEda

EasyEda is the best designing tool which is both web and cloud base. It is zero-install integrating schematic capture and PCB layout can be designed in a seamless browser environment.

Allegro

Allegro is the most reputed software available in the market and is commonly used by large companies that make motherboards. It was launched by Cadence. This software has features that help in designing large motherboards. That’s the reason this software holds considerable market shares for computer design software.

WG

WG mentor introduced WG in 2005 and it was windows based. As the layout of the software should be great to manage the PCB design. So according to layout WG is the king of all software as it manages the layout most professionally. It is also recommended by many PCB designers.

Fritzing

Fritzing is also open-source software. It is designed to develop CAD software with the help of hardware design. As a hobby CAD helps designers and artists quickly move from design to prototype.

PADS

PADS Layout, PADS Logic, and PADS router are also included in the simple PADS software. It is the best for CAD layout. Its easy-to-use interface makes it the best choice for EDA.

ORCAD

Simply operation functions and strong stimulation make the OrCAD best for EDA development. OrCAD was developed in the 1980s and since then it is improved. It is recommended by electric designers because of its easy functionality.

Protel

Protel is also known as Altium and has the same functionality as we have discussed in Altium. It was introduced in the late 80s and since then it is ranked among highly used software for EDA designs. It is recommended because it has experience dealing with almost every design of PCB. It is released with its new features and leading the market in amazing manners.

So these are the latest software in the PCB design industry. Should you have any questions related to your design and or pcb assembly services, feel free to email us at sales@pnconline.com

BGA-HDI

Better BGA routing on a Printed Circuit Board with High Density Interconnect

One of the technologies that have allowed electronic products to shrink in size and provide increasingly higher performance is the ball grid array (BGA) IC package. The BGA allows higher density PC Board layouts because of simple geometry. The number of pins that can be accommodated on the perimeter of a quad pack increases linearly with package size. The number of connections that can be accommodated on a BGA increases with the square of the package size. BGA packages now routinely exceed 1000 connections, and the ball pitch has shrunk from 1.0 mm to .8 mm to a growing number of devices now available in the micro-BGA format with a ball pitch of .65 mm, .5 mm and smaller.

The decrease in BGA ball pitch would not have been possible without the improvements in PCB fabrication. These improvements, collectively called High Density Interconnects or HDI, give companies like PNC the capability of creating traces as narrow as 0.0762 mm (3 mil) and vias with annual rings as small as .25 mm (10 mil) HDI PCB fabrication has given designers greater flexibility in routing BGA devices down to a pitch of .65 mm The HDI technology is essential for devices with ball pitches less than .65mm

Routing the hundreds of connections from a typical BGA is called BGA breakout, and it can be a major layout challenge. For this reason, many designers place the BGAs into the layout first and fan-out the connections from each pad to a stub trace. This allows the designer to adjust the routing of individual pins under the BGA without rerouting the entire PC BOARD. Another reason the BGA should be placed first is that the BGA breakout will likely dictate the number of layers needed in the PCB stack-up.

The breakouts are typically a repeating pattern, with the traces for each row of balls around the perimeter routed similarly. Most BGA manufacturers will provide sample breakouts, and some high-end tools will automate this breakout process. Most BGAs use similar fanout approaches, the fanout differing only in the package specific routings for power and ground. With standard PC Board fabrication technology there really are not a lot of fanout options. Here is the typical approach used for BGAs with pitches down to .65 mm highlighting some of the advantages of PNC’s HDI fabrication technology

Routing the first perimeter row of the BGA is easy; the traces come straight out from the pads.

The traces for the second row pass between the pads of the first row. If the ball pitch is greater than .8 mm an HDI PCB fabricator with the capability of creating 3mm pitch traces can fit two 3mm traces with 3mm spacing between the pads in the outer row. This allows the first three perimeter rows of pads to be routed on the top layer.

Subsequent rows are routed using a feature called a dogbone. The dogbone has a pad at one end and a via at the other, separated by short trace. This prevents the via from wicking solder from the ball pad, starving the solder joint. It is also recommended to cover or “tent” the dogbone via with solder mask. The dogbone is typically oriented at 45 ° so that the via can be located in the center of each four pad grid. The via takes the signal trace to the next level where it is routed out between the other vias, similar to what was done on the top layer.

the following number of board layers typical are needed for each perimeter row of pads

board layers
board layers

This table demonstrates that using an HDI Circuit board fabrication process, even for a 1.0 mm or .8mm pitch BGA can result in the need for fewer signal layers, because two traces can be passed between each pad. The HDI fabrication process also allows the dogbones to be placed in line with the grid instead of diagonally, which allows two traces to pass between vias on the 2nd and 3rd layers

For smaller pitch devices PNC’s HDI fabrication techniques become essential. For ball pitch spacing of .65 mm and .5 mm the only way to create a fanout is using the 3 mil traces and 10.68 mill dia. vias allowed by HDI. The 3 mil trace and 3 mil trace spacing allows a single trace to just fit between .5 mm pitch pads.

The latest micro BGAs used in devices like phones and smartwatches have pitch spacing below .4 mm. The pitch spacing is so close that traces no longer fit between the pads. BGA breakout requires via in pad techniques, with the filled microvias routing the signals straight down and then out. Depending on the number of perimeter rows, blind and buried vias may also be needed.

If you are using a BGA in your design, using HDI design rules for fabrication can simplify the breakout and reduce the number of PCB layers needed. PNC engineers can help you understand what is possible with HDI Printed Circuit board fabrication.
The last thing to know about designing with BGAs is that process yield, and reliability are very process dependent. When selecting a
Pga Capabilities
it pays to select PNC. PNC has the equipment and expertise to manufacture your most challenging BGA designs.

3d-printed-pcb-prototype

Accelerate your New Product Development with rapid PCB assembly prototyping

The time from concept to prototype has accelerated remarkably in the past decade. 3D printed prototype components in a wide variety of materials are available in hours. Machined or sheet metal components are available from rapid prototype shops in only one or two days.

Prototype Printed Circuit Board Fabrication and assembly companies like PNC have followed this trend towards faster prototypes and can now provide complete assemblies in less time than ever before. PNC can fabricate and deliver a bare 10-12-layer PCB in just three days, and a simple double-sided board in just 24 hours.

However, even with the streamlining of PCB fabrication, the fully assembled PCBA is often the longest lead component in prototype designs primarily because of the sheer number and variety of passive and active components to be purchased and the demands of accurately placing and soldering those components. Sourcing the components on a typical PCBA BOM can take days in the best case and weeks in the worst case. Setting up and running the assembly job can add another few days, especially for double sided PCBs, and PCBs with a combination of surface mounted and through hole components.

Fortunately, there are some things that a product development team can do to reduce PCB assembly lead time.

First, do everything possible to reduce the impact of long component lead times. Plan to order the components as early as possible in the circuit design process. Deciding when to order components requires balancing the costs of scrapping some components as the design matures vs. the benefits of reducing the lead time for an assembled PCBA by days or weeks.

Second, reduce the time required to set up and build the prototypes by working with a full-service company like PNC. PNC has the capability to both fabricate the bare PCB and assemble the components. This means that the PCB fabrication team and assembly team can save time by working in parallel. While the PCBS are being fabricated, PNC’s engineers can create pick and place data, solder paste stencils and program the assembly equipment. When the PCBs are finished and the components arrive, everything is ready to begin assembly immediately.

The third way to save time with PCB prototypes is to minimize the number of PCB prototype iterations. Saving a full printed circuit board assembly prototype cycle is the most effective way to reduce the time from concept to mature design.

One way to reduce design iterations is by testing circuit designs as early in the design process as possible by building “Works Like” prototypes. “Works Like” prototypes are usually combinations of development kits, large one or two layer PCBs with larger SMT components that can be soldered by hand and various types of breadboards. In addition to testing the circuit, a “Works Like” prototype gives software developers an early platform to start developing code and debugging the circuit design. The result of testing early with rough prototypes is that you fix problems before you have invested the time in the full layout and prototyping process.

In parallel, the mechanical engineers can optimize cable routing and connector placement by printing 3D models of the PCBs, then epoxying actual connectors to the board model. This is an effective way to quickly try different options for cable routing using actual cables and connectors, since it is difficult to simulate the way actual cables behave with CAD software.

Experienced electrical engineers know that it is often poor connector access or cable interference that drive Printed Circuit Board layout redesigns as often as issues with actual circuit performance.

Once the circuit has been tested with the “Works-Like” prototype, and the board layout has been tested with 3D printed models, the last way to save time is to work closely with the PCB manufacturer to make sure that the PCB fabrication files are clean and complete, and that the BOM is accurate and matched with the circuit and layout to avoid placement mistakes.

This is another reason to select a full-service prototype pcb manufacturer like PNC. PNC can be a partner during the layout and design process, though fabrication and assembly ensuring the final design can be translated into a working prototype in the least possible time.