What to Look for in PCB Design Software

The reliability of a PCB design software is the most important aspect of it, because the last thing anyone wants to face is a glitch in the design that they have to correct later on. However, reliability is determined by many aspects when it comes to PCB software, and that’s why we are going to discuss some of the most important features that you should look for in your PCB designing tool, in order for it to be considered a reliable option.

Can It Handle Your Work?

Not all PCB designers are created equal and most importantly, they are not all created to handle the same type of work. So, you need to first figure out what you want or need to do with the software and going through the following questions should help you get started on jotting down your requirements.

  • Do you need a software that can handle multilayer boards, or will a single-layer/double-layer PCB designer do just fine?
  • Can it handle circuit board designs for RF/mixed-signal/analog/high-speed/power applications?

Feel free to add more requirements to this list and only invest in the software if it manages to meet all of your criteria.

Interactive, Automated Routing

There is a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when you route by hand, but when it comes to productivity, speed and accuracy, having a PCB design software with interactive and automated routing is essential. In case you are wondering why it is so, consider the following advantages:

  • It will always follow your set design rules, which in effect is similar to hand routing, but with less errors and at a significantly higher speed
  • When things get complex, you can direct the pin to pin routing yourself, but the software will put in all the traces

A Well-Stocked Library

A well-stocked library can be a huge time saver as it gives you the convenience of finding the specific components you need easily from one place. In spite of being an inexpensive PCB software, you will find 350,000+ components in Altium’s CircuitStudio Content Library, essentially making your job a lot easier. It also comes equipped with custom component creation tools that let the designer make parts on demand, by utilizing the ready to use datasheets and parametric equations from the vast CircuitStudio Library.

Simulation Features

Simulation is an extremely important feature that is expected from all modern PCB design software tools, so unless the software in question has robust simulation tools incorporated in it, you should reconsider your choice. For example, the Altium CircuitStudio has integrated XSPICE analog and digital simulation to ensure flawless PCB designing. Unless you are able to simulate and test your design properly, sending out a PCB design to production would be way too risky.

As mentioned before, it isn’t only about the latest features, but more about how those features stand to benefit your work. The idea is to find an inexpensive PCB software that meets the scale and requirements of your work. In most instances though, as long as you cover the points we just discussed, you will find the exact option that you need from the market.

Mars Cureg

Web designer by profession, photography hobbyist, T-shirt lover, design blog founder, gamer. Socially and physically awkward, lack of social skills, struggles to communicate with anyone who doesn't have a keyboard. Willing to walk to get to the promised land. Photo and video freelancer, SEO. Check out more on my Google+

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