Pcb Design Layouts

Written by Serena Berger
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No matter what kind of PCB you are building and by what methodology, at some point in the process, you must have a layout of the design. The finished layout is the first checkpoint in the testing process for any PCB. The ability to zoom in and scan it carefully for traces, vias, and connectors enables you to avoid costly production of prototypes or mass runs of faulty PCBs. Many software packages are designed so that your final layout can be uploaded by the manufacturer and used to produce the finished product.

The ability to edit the layout with ease during the design process is an essential attribute of a good software package. Until recently, there have been only two options for creating the layout of a PCB: manual and automatic routing. If you are routing manually, you click and drag the mouse to create every trace on your circuit board. If you are using autorouting, you can submit your design rules to a system which then routes without further consultation.

Interactive Routing for PCB Layout Designs

Manual routing has the main advantage of being thoroughly controlled. Autorouting has the advantage of much greater speed. Obviously, many companies do not want to choose between the two. Within the last year or so, advances have been made which allow for interactive routing, a technology which gives you speed a lot closer to that of autorouting but control just like manual.

You can essentially autoroute your PCB or a segment thereof, but then you can manually click and drag any trace or via. You don't need to worry about disrupting any other trace--the program will automatically adjust the other traces around the one that you are moving. You can set any constraints you have, such as clearance between traces, or minimum and maximum lengths. The program will let you know any time a change that you make violates one of these constraints and will automatically adjust. This unprecedented combination of speed and control is revolutionizing PCB design layouts as digital designs become increasingly complex and the market more fast-paced.


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