Understanding the Advantages and Disadvantages of PCB Layout and Design Software Tools

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Computer Manufacturing Technology

When it comes to designing printed circuit boards, there are many different software tools available. When deciding which software is best for your needs, it’s important to choose one that is widely used in the industry. This is especially important in team collaborations where an engineer’s skills are scaled to larger, wide-spread applications.

The most popular layout and design programs include PADS, Xpedition, Cadence Allegro and Altium. Each of these programs has its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages.

Choosing PCB Layout and Design Software

All of these programs have the features necessary to design quality printed circuit boards, but some are better suited for certain applications than others. Programs range from simple to highly sophisticated. Each company’s individual needs and preferences determine which tools are best suited for them.

PADS

PADS provides an intuitive creation platform, specially optimized for PCB layout. This affordable printed circuit board design software allows for quick and easy layout of advanced circuit boards. PADS offers several high-end modules including signal integrity analysis functions, an advanced auto-router, thermal design consideration analysis, as well as support for various project management functions. PADS ECO process is more flexible than other platforms.

Because of its simple design rules system, PADS might not be the best choice for high-speed boards. It’s also not as effective as other programs at handling a large number of layers. Its modular licensing model can be an advantage or disadvantage.

Xpedition

Xpedition is the ideal choice for large companies with complex organizational structures. This high end design software provides advanced functionality which enables the creation of extremely complex PCB designs. Xpedition’s innovative technologies can reduce design cycles by as much as 50 percent.

Xpedition is one of the most expensive softwares, its cost might still be too high for smaller companies and freelance engineers.

Cadence Allegro

Cadence Allegro is one of the most popular tools for PCB layout and design. It allows for customization of all aspects of the layout. Allegro’s constraint manager and high speed roles make it ideal for large digital designs.

Allegro might not be the best choice for every company as it is more costly than other available layout tools.

Altium

Altium is the newest design software on the market among the platforms ACDi offers. Because all options are provided for one low cost, Altium is increasing adoption rates among professionals.

Altium’s 3D modeling capabilities are ahead of the other tools. However, Altium has marginally less functionality than other programs and it can be difficult to route designs with a lot of constraints. The auto-router is also limited.

ACDi is an electronics manufacturing firm specializing in product engineering support services, PCB layout, NPI and product lifecycle management solutions. For PCB layout and design, we use many programs including PADS, Xpedition, Cadence Allegro and Altium. For assistance with your next PCB layout project, contact us today or start your complimentary consultation.

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