6 Best Software Tools For Epic PCB Design

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The production of PCB is increasingly becoming important in our world today, as it is now a critical component in not just electronic devices but also tech devices.

The designs of PCBs are now sophisticated, thanks to the emergence of the latest innovations leaving PCB designers with the work of being as exceptionally creative as possible.

PCB designers will to a large extent, require the best tools for their PCB designs to arrive at their desired end product. It is very important that they use tools that enhance their creativity and simplify the design process.

There are so many PCB software packages available, that it becomes really tricky to filter out which is best and most suitable for your design. Below, however, is a compilation of the six best PCB design software packages that match different needs. Some are free while others are quite affordable and some are heavy on cash for great professional uses.

  1. EasyEDA

This is a web-based user-friendly EDA with both online and offline applications that comprises of a powerful schematic capture, PCB layout design and is capable of circuit simulation in a mixed-mode.

EasyEDA is an easy to use platform that supports both public and private projects. It also features Gerber file output, made freely available for individuals and businesses.

It further supports direct links to more than 200,000 real-time, in-stock components at LCSC which makes it easy for designers to refer to stocks, prices, and order at any time during design.

EasyEDA features help speed up the work of PCB designers with easy access to comprehensive data and a range of collaboration tools.

With EasyEDA, it is possible to import designs from other design tools like Altium, KiCad, and Eagle. It further supports the use of several platforms like Android, Linux, Mac, and Windows.

  1. KiCad

This is a widely known and used free EDA tool with a cross-platform and open-source electronics design automation suite.

KiCad supports Linux, Mac, and Windows and has many outstanding resources for use on the web. It entails schematic capture, PCB layout, and a 3D visualization which enables you to create a 3D image of a printed circuit board using OpenGL.

The ability to create designs is unlimited and the designs can be inspected in an interactive canvas that is readily available in KiCad.

KiCad further includes Eeschema for schematic entry and Pcbnew for PCB design and multiple libraries of electronic components that have 3D models implemented in Wings3D.

  1. Altium Design

This is considered the royalty of PCB design software, a bit pricey but definitely worth it.

It is currently the best professional EDA software tool for PCB designs and widely used by individuals and businesses that want to make a top-notch product.

It makes your connection to your design seamless in the PCB design process, resulting in efficiency due to the ease of use and also fulfills the unique trends and needs of PCB designers.

Altium Design makes use of innovative technologies with high-speed digitalization that simplifies the design process and aid PCB designers to be very creative. It has an Intuitive team collaboration and it’s perfect for working on one or two-layered boards accompanied with the ability to verify designs in the mechanical world.

  1. Diptrace

This is a software highly suitable for designing simple multi-layer PCBs, comprising of four different modules; 3D modeling of PCB, component pattern editor, schematic capture and PCB layout editor.

Diptrace supports Windows, Mac, and Linux and has a real-time DRC which aids in reporting errors from the onset before they are actually made during the design process.

Its DRC has an in-depth detailing; PCBs can be previewed in 3D and exported for real-time DRC and exported for mechanical CAD modeling.

DipTrace comes with different versions to match specific needs for manufacturing PCBs, they include; standard, full, starter and the final unlimited DipTrace edition. It also comes with placement features that allow for the manual placement of components through drag and drop, or automation available in the custom settings.

  1. Eagle

The name is actually an acronym for; Easily Applicable Graphical Layout Editor.

Eagle comprises three main modules; Layout editor, schematic editor, and autoroute PCB. It supports Windows, Linux, Mac Os X Operating Systems.

Eagle EDA facilitates PCB designers to connect schematic diagrams and places several components seamlessly alongside an extensive library of components.

It has a free version but with limited features. It offers 3D design, and an easy-to-use schematic editor plus an intuitive PCB layout to achieve your desired end product.

Eagle is highly suitable for low-performance hardware, with ready-to-use drivers and can easily export your PCB to a lively renderer, enabling the creation of 3D models of PCB.

Eagle’s scripting language is greatly powerful and possesses vast editing opportunities, super functions like online positive and negative annotation function, copper cladding, and interactive follower.

  1. OrCAD

This is another widely known and used EDA software. It is comprised of different parts like the OrCAD Circuit design set, OrCAD PSpice Designer and OrCAD Capture.

One of the best and often used PCB software design packages for schematic design solutions to create and document electrical circuits is OrCAD Capture.

OrCAD is an EDA software that has been around since the late 1980s, so it has been trusted to deliver excellently and highly dependable for a long time now. It provides a supportive and comprehensive environment for PCB designers for the transformation of their ideas into reality. It also features an impressive user-friendly interface, a board-level analysis, DRC,  a simplified mode of operation and a powerful simulation function.

OrCAD also has an intuitive interface that makes it easy to learn and use, and ultimately features great innovative technologies that have a powerful functionality.

The above list is as minimal as possible to make it easy to select and not get overwhelmed with a sea of options. It is also diverse to meet different needs, be it a complex project or something on the cheaper side.

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