Whether you are a long-time electronics hobbyist or just starting out, if you plan to design your own printed circuits, you will need to learn how to operate CAD software. CAD software, or Computer Aided Design software, are programs that enable users to draft and design engineering, architectural, and industrial design applications. Click here to learn more about printed circuits.
When major electronics companies design new PCBs, they use CAD software and you should too. Whether you plan to build your printed circuits yourself or have them built by a manufacturer, CAD software will simplify the entire process, especially for multilayer circuit boards.
Anyone who can use a computer can learn the techniques of mechanical drafting with CAD software, though it may not be easy. Although, it is much easier than wasting years standing over a drafting table.
Designing PCBs with CAD
If you want to construct your own PCB from scratch, you should still be using CAD software for the design. Many CAD programs will offer special features that are designed to make PCB design more simple. Some of these features and functions involve things like working on grids, tracking width definitions, setting any design rules, and helping designers meet all industry standard specs. For more information on printed circuits, click here.
When the original design has been laid out on paper, the next step would be to continue to the schematic capture step of the design. Here you will use your CAD software to capture all the design elements of your printed circuit. All components and connections are added electronically and become the basis for your final circuit board design and layout.
Once the schematic has been captured, you must perfect that design until you have a fully functioning prototype PCB.
Multilayer Boards and CAD Software
If your goal is to create a multilayer printed circuit board then the use of CAD software is critical. Keeping track of multiple layers and the vias that connect the various components and their routing quickly becomes a task best left to your design software. Keep in mind, commercial PCB manufacturers are the only ones with the ability to tackle the difficult task of constructing a multilayer PCB.
The majority of CAD software programs can handle the creation of multilayer printed circuit boards. If not, there are many packages available that will. Just do a search on Google for "PCB design software" and you will be able to find a handful of reputable options. Click here fore more information on printed circuits.
Though everyone has different design needs, most designs will require an auto-save feature, and English or metric designation, multilayer capabilities, Gerber file export options, and a design rule checker.