For many PCB enthusiasts, seeing their DIY PCBs in action is more than sufficient to give them high levels of satisfaction and fulfillment. But hobbyists may be shooting themselves in the foot and be better served to go that extra mile - gaining an edge in their applications by optimizing their design with the use of professional PCB design software. For this article, we referenced popular software apps Eagle, Fritzing and xcircuit.
Advantages of using PCB Design Software:
DRC (Design Rule Check) is one of the most helpful features of circuit design software. The goal of DRC is to automatically check your PCB layout against a rules file provided by your service provider. During the check, the software will highlight areas that cannot be reliably produced. The log will indicate design specifications such as minimum trace width, clearance and more that need to be adjusted.
Automatic Routing can also greatly improve your design. Once all components are placed in the layout, they can be connected easily by the click of a button. This feature will add traces between the components and jumper wires for those areas where a trace is not possible. This helps you avoid the pitfalls of manual routing and results in a compact, clean and optimized PCB layout. Auto routing also has significant benefits in reducing the 'design to market' time. For the key areas where auto routing is not preferred, such as in complex locations, the user can switch between auto routing and manual routing at any time.
Automatic Gerber file generation is perhaps the most important feature. A Gerber file is synonymous to a PDF file for circuit boards. The file is formatted in such a way that a manufacturer can directly create a circuit board based on the file. Simply deliver the Gerber file to a PCB manufacturer for a quote and lead time.
The above benefits are critical if you want to take your hobby to the next level and create a professional-level design for your PCB.
This article was written by San Francisco Circuits. SFC is a PCB service provider that specializes in providing quick delivery of high-quality precision PCB fabrication and PCB assembly.
PCB Design Software References: