Printed circuit board (PCB) design is a complex endeavor, but it’s more manageable when you have access to the right tools. Numerous companies now offer PCB design tools that allow collaboration through user-friendly interfaces. Here’s a quick view of three top tools that let you explore the options for online PCB design.
EasyEDA is a popular option used by millions of professionals. Some of the products offered by other companies require downloads and subscriptions. However, the EasyEDA Designer lets you get started immediately without even registering for the site.
As soon as the web editor launches, you’ll see tooltips that help you get the hang of the screen layout and various features on it. There are also third-party guides to walk users through the steps of online PCB design.
People can choose between Standard and Simulation modes. There is also a More Help panel on the main screen that lets people browse for videos, check out the user forum, and get types of assistance. However, the Quick Start button is the fastest way to begin a project, as you might guess from the name.
Buttons on the left side of the screen are helpful reference points as people progress with their projects. Then, a Messages pane on the right shows a news feed of content.
Since people can try this product without registering or downloading anything, it’s a great option to see what’s possible.
The process for getting started with Upverter is similar to EasyEDA. The most straightforward option is to click on the Start Modular Design button at the top of the website. Doing that launches the browser-based designer tool.
People who are not ready to start designing from scratch will appreciate that there are various templates to try. There’s also a setup wizard that takes people through a four-step process for creating their boards. It’s worth noting that the final thing people can do is arrange to have their newly designed boards made and shipped to them. Upverter does not require minimum quantities, either.
Upverter also has an accompanying product called EE Concierge that helps people learn to use its PCB design tool and make fewer design errors overall. According to that product’s website, 75% of mistakes made by hardware teams occur because of rushed parts.
One of the main advantages of using PCB design tools is that you can become aware of potential problems sooner, then take steps to mitigate them before getting into later phases of the design process. For example, having copper wiring too close to the edge of a board can lead to various problems. They include short-circuiting and copper wires that corrode faster than expected.
Technological progress has helped the PCB market flourish. When one PCB manufacturer uses automated production methods, it can make up to 15 product types daily and give customers a mere three-day turnaround time.
Cloud computing is another type of technology that supports people who design or make PCBs. Perhaps the most notable advantage is that it allows people to verify details or collaborate with team members from wherever they are. Geographical distance is no barrier to productive work.
Altium 365 is an example of how cloud computing helps make online PCB design possible. It keeps all the design materials in one place so anyone working on a project can access them from any internet-enabled device. There is also a feature that generates a secure sharing link to distribute the work to stakeholders.
The product integrates with Designer, another Altium product. It’s even possible to connect to 365 directly from Designer, and there is no need to purchase additional licenses. That way, if people are already accustomed to using Designer, moving to 365 for collaboration is easy.
People who receive the secure sharing links can also access the associated content in any web browser. From there, they can comment, view, search, and cross-probe the design, even without having access to any Altium products.
The cloud storage aspect of Altium 365 means all parties can see exactly what changes were made and when, along with the parties responsible for them. Having that complete project history provides valuable clarification that eliminates needing to check with people to see if they altered the design.
There are also configurable roles and permissions, ensuring everyone has the appropriate access to contribute to a project without encountering roadblocks. Automatic notifications about design changes or comments also keep people in the loop. They can also select whether to get those updates within an Altium program or via email.
Online PCB design tools can help streamline your process, get projects done faster, and make it easier to collaborate with others. The options mentioned here are some of the top online choices but other online or offline tools might better suit your design requirements. However, it’ll be easier to find the best one for your needs by taking some time to see in depth what each one offers.
|Emily Newton is a technology and industrial journalist who enjoys discovering how the IoT is impacting different industries. Emily is editor in chief of Revolutionized – an online magazine exploring trends in science, technology and industry. Subscribe to her newsletter to keep up with the latest.|
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