PCB tools aim to make life easier for the designer

Paul Boughton

Some recent key updates to design tools are making life easier for PCB designers. Nick Flaherty reports

TI's WEBENCH tools now export power and LED lighting designs directly to industry-leading CAD development platforms for PCB designs, rather than having to use PDF files or text files. Automating the process to transfer the schematic to CAD platforms from Cadence, Mentor Graphics and Altium reduces both the design time and the risk of errors.
The WEBENCH Schematic Export is a new online tool that exports analog designs from TI's WEBENCH Design Centre with schematic symbols for more than 30,000 components.

While the tools dramatically simplified and sped the design process, the time for engineers to export a design to their licensed CAD development platform was tedious and time-consuming. Developed by TI, and in cooperation with the makers of the CAD development platforms, WEBENCH Schematic Export now enables the engineer to instantly export these dynamically created power and LED lighting designs to a variety of platforms such as the Cadence OrCAD Capture CIS, Mentor Graphics DxDesigner and Altium Designer. [Page Break]

"Engineers know that TI's WEBENCH tools considerably reduce the time to create power and LED lighting designs," said Chris Donato, Altium Sales Director for the Americas. "With the addition of WEBENCH Schematic Export, the engineer no longer needs to manually enter the design into the CAD platform, nor is there a need to worry about errors made in the process. Now, designs created with WEBENCH Schematic Export easily and expertly convert to Altium Designer in seconds."

The export tool means a designer can quickly optimize and export a power supply design or a complete power supply system to the CAD development platforms, simulating the performance prior to export.
At the same time Altium has added its 22nd update since the release of Altium Designer 10 in March 2011. This update takes into account feedback from users to add Incremental Unroute.

During the interactive routing of the PCB and especially while re-using existing boards, unrouting existing tracks is a common task on the way to get best results. With this update, Altium implements a smart way to unroute existing tracks using an incremental process to delete selected routing objects with automatic selection of the adjacent routing objects. Users can easily repeat this process to come to the desired result while saving time compared to the previous implementation.[Page Break]

The team behind the freeware DesignSpark PCB tool has also been busy over the past few months with new developments in the DesignSpark community.

DesignSpark PCB ver4 has added new features and they have also created ModelSource, a new web-based component library. Access over 80,000 FREE Schematic and PCB symbols in more than 20 formats, including PADS, ORCAD, ALTIUM and CADSTAR. These libraries are aligned with the distributor RS’ board-level product offer and enable the designer to focus on innovation, research and development rather than spending time on creating the basic building blocks of a design.

A new Bill of Material (BOM) Quote function in PCB Version 4 provides an instant quotation for the components on the design, generating a BOM user report which will have the RS part number embedded in the new PCB component libraries. There is also a PCB Quote service to provide an independent quote comparisons from bare-board PCB manufacturers based on the specific design.

See www.designspark.com/PcbQuote/form