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Which Software Is Best For PCB Design In 2023?

Views: 697 Author: Site Editor Publish Time: 2023-03-15 Origin: Site

 PCB Design

Designing and manufacturing your own printed circuit boards has always been challenging. Check out our selection of the best free PCB design software to get started!

Easy-to-use PCB design software has enabled millions of novices and experts to rapidly manufacture their own high-quality custom-printed circuit boards (PCBs).

Once the preserve of professionals or those who are addicted enough to messy chemicals and complex lithography, boards can now be made using simple home manufacturing methods, 3D printing solutions, or mass production services that can fabricate and assemble a finished product within a few days and for little money.

We Provide a Full Range of Contract Manufacturing

It should be noted that our company provides a full range of contract manufacturing services. Please contact us if you need to manufacture and assemble a printed circuit board.

This article will explain how to design software to help you create the design required for PCB manufacturing. We will also look at the different user requirements, from beginners to experts, and the functionality offered by free programs, including the availability of training materials and online support communities.

Even a simple PCB must match many parameters: component lists, physical diagrams, interconnect paths, physical dimensions, and more.

PCB design software helps designers leverage it by effectively visualizing the entire design process. These programs are a subset of more sophisticated design automation (EDA) software tools designed for professionals and include additional specialized features.

The programs discussed in this article support the two main steps in the PCB design process and a third important area of ​​functionality that ties them together. Let's look at each of them in turn.

Circuit design

PCB design

This stage involves the development of a basic scheme (principle diagram) and includes the following steps:

1. Creation of a concept;

2. Validation of the design by "definition of validation rules" or simulation (optional);

3. Create component lists (optional).

Board trace

This stage allows you to convert circuit diagrams into a simple circuit board design and includes the following:

1. Development of a physical layout, taking into account the actual size or footprint of various components and connectors

2. Laying electrical tracks between members (on one, two or more layers)

3. Formation of the board geometry, as well as the location and size of holes, screens, inscriptions, etc.;

4. Visualization of the finished design in 2D or 3D.

The finished PCB design generates Gerber files - the industry standard used by all manufacturers - and files with additional information about the location and size of holes, etc.

Component Libraries

PCB design software generates libraries that contain information about the many components (passives, ICs, and modules) found on a PCB.

Information about how the components should be represented in the circuit diagram, their electrical and connection characteristics, physical dimensions and appearance.

Access to pre-populated component information and, sometimes, the ability to manually modify or add components to improve design quality and speed.

Program selection

A wide range of free PCB design software is available, from classic open-source software to full-featured paid software designed for professional workflows. Below we will describe the best free PCB design software.

PCB design

Deciding which is best depends on several factors. These include practical considerations, such as what platform the software runs on (such as PC, Mac, or Linux) or whether it is browser-based and, therefore, accessible from multiple devices.

The intended use of the circuit board matters, as does the user's previous electronics and circuit board proficiency.

Other considerations that may affect the choice of the tool include the level of support for special applications, such as PCB Art or RF solutions, and localization of the program interface. Unfortunately, it is problematic to find programs for designing printed circuit boards.

In conclusion, experienced PCB designers often use multiple tools depending on the task.

KiCad

KiCad has a substantial following and is well-supported.

Type: offline with unlimited functionality

Operating systems: Windows, Mac, Linux

Developer: KiCad Developers Team You can

KiCad is one of the most famous free electronic design software. First created nearly 30 years ago and is now in version 5. Backed by renowned organizations such as the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Arduino, and CERN (European Council for Nuclear Research), KiCad enjoys an active community and hosts a well-attended annual conference.

The open-source program boasts powerful features and capabilities that cater to novices' and experts' needs.

In addition to conventional circuit design, PCB layout tools, and 3D visualization, KiCad integrates with circuit simulation (Ngspice), supports Git for version control, and is compatible with FreeCAD for mechanical design. In addition, an ever-growing list of plug-ins provides extensibility from RF design to PCB design using Python.

Many have described KiCad as "non-intuitive", but having a large user base suggests this is not a significant hurdle, and the relatively new user interface is respected. You can easily find various KiCad tutorials online, from simple to advance.

EasyEDA

Type: Both online and offline with unlimited functionality (additional subscription available)

Operating systems: Windows, Mac, Linux

Developer: LCSC Electronics

You can download the EasyEDA PCB design software from the developer's website.

EasyEDA is a relatively recent browser add-on backed by one of China's largest electronic component suppliers and born from a desire for software that doesn't use Windows. The original and classic versions are available online and can be used on any device with the appropriate browser (Chrome and Firefox preferred).

Features include a schematic editor, simulation, PCB layout, and simple visualization tools. Cloud-based, it's easy to use and collaborate with others on the go. EasyEDA generates industry-standard files that can be used with any PCB manufacturer of your choice and has built-in direct links to libraries with LCSC for components and JLCPCB for competitively priced manufacturing services.

A growing user base of over one million, with an active online community and training and support available. The consensus is that the program is more focused on simple projects. More extensive projects or a poor internet connection can create problems or make it impossible to work.

Fritzing

Type: offline with unlimited functionality

Operating systems: Windows, Mac, Linux

Developers: Interaction Design Lab and IXDS. You can download the Fritzing PCB design software from the developer's website.

Fritzing includes easy-to-use features and supports simple schematics with tools for translating designs to solderless breadboards, soldered strips, or PCBs. For this reason, it has found a unique niche in schools and institutes, being used in many educational resources.

Fritzing has strong support and an active user forum. Due to its unique and straightforward approach, it is worth considering for simple projects, particularly for educational institutions.

Upverter

Type: Internet with unlimited functionality

Operating systems: Windows, Mac, Linux

Developer: Altium You can download Upverter PCB design software from the developer's website.

Upverter is an online tool from Altium, the world leader in professional EDA solutions and PCB design. It was created to allow users to develop electronics anytime, anywhere and share them with like-minded people.

Upverter is easy to use and combines the usual features of schematic design, PCB layout and 3D visualization with the addition of easy collaboration in the cloud. It has a well-maintained component library, allowing users to add their components easily.

Upverter is focused on educational use with a good base of informative learning and supporting resources. Popular features include a community design database with thousands of customizable hardware designs and an active online user forum.

Circuit maker

Type: Offline with unlimited functionality (paid version of Pro is in beta)

Operating system: Windows

Developer: Altium

 You can download CircuitMaker PCB design software from the developer's website.

CircuitMaker is another free Altium offering between the online Upverter and its professional tools.

In addition to the usual design and layout features, CircuitMaker offers features usually found only in professional tools: built-in 3D visualization, design rule checking, and an extensive component library.

CircuitMaker constantly receives excellent and positive reviews and continues to develop and improve. It has a robust community forum and professionally prepared learning materials. The new product CircuitMaker Pro is in beta testing and is expected to exist alongside the free version. It still needs to be clarified if any additional functionality will be provided.

About The Author

I am the Engineering and Sales supervisor working in Victorypcb from 2015. During the past years, I have been reponsible for all oversea exhibitions like USA(IPC Apex Expo), Europe(Munich Electronica) and Japan(Nepcon) etc. Our factory founded in 2005, now have 1521 clients all over the world and occupied very good reputation among them.

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