Before manufacturing a board, the design engineers design the PCB as per their requirements. The engineers employ electronic design automation (EDA) software also referred to as electronic computer-aided design (ECAD) Software to create a blueprint of the desired circuit board. This requires an in-depth knowledge of the architecture and a good understanding of the associated libraries. The produced design pattern must be in compliance with the IEEE electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) standards. This design is brought into life (later put into production) by a PCB manufacturer.
The prime factors to be considered while choosing a PCB design software are:
- User interface (UI)
- Large components libraries
The automation software programs establish a convenient approach in PCB designing that can be easily transformed into a physical PCB. Some of the popular design tools like Altium Designer, Eagle, and OrCAD are listed below.
Altium Designer is an advanced CAD tool that provides a complete PCB design environment. This designer tool features a modern UI and interfaces with third-party analysis, synthesis, and 3D mechanical software.
Eagle (Easily Applicable Graphical Layout Editor) is a designer tool for drawing electrical circuits and trace PCBs of electronic devices. The package comes with three modules: schematic editor, PCB layout editor, and auto-router.
OrCAD automation tool provides the functionalities and capabilities of PCB design. It incorporates a user-friendly interface and features real-time PCB design, high-speed signal routing, DesignTrue DFM, and interactive 3D. Orcad provides the following products:
- Schematic editor (OrCAD Capture)
- Analog/mixed-signal circuit simulator (OrCAD EE PSpice)
- PCB board layout solution (OrCAD PCB Designer)
Allegro Cadence is a designer tool that is suitable for large enterprises, complex projects, and low-performance hardware. This tool works fine even when installed on machines with 512 MB of RAM. The Allegro Cadence software is a scalable and contains everything needed to create a PCB layout with a fully integrated design flow. This software addresses technological and methodological challenges while making the design cycles shorter and predictable.
Mentor Graphics PADS is a PCB software that incorporates built-in DFF, automatic routing and high-speed interactive routing, and 3D visualization and placement. Mentor Pads software offers schematic design, analog/mixed-signal circuit simulation, and simulation and analysis. This software reduces design time through integrated design entry, constraint management, 2D/3D PCB layout, and analysis and verification.
KiCAD is an open-source, cross-platform designer tool utilized to create design schematics. This software comes with schematic capture, PCB layout, and a 3D viewer. This tool can be used to create up to 32 layers of copper.
Zuken’s CADSTAR PCB design software offers a complete design environment. CADSTAR offers design capability throughout the PCB design flow starting with the schematic through layout, routing, signal integrity simulation, power integrity analysis, 3D mechanical integration.