Altium advances electronic and mechanical co-design
Altium advances electronic and mechanical co-design
In the process of designing electronic products for industries such as IoT, autonomous vehicles, and industrial automation, mechanical and electrical engineers face multiple challenges. One of the biggest sources of frustration mechanical engineers face occurs when mechanical and PCB designers collaborate on the same electronic design assemblies.
During the design process of any complex electronic product, mechanical designers and circuit board designers continually import, export and convert files for the purpose of synchronizing mechanical and electronic designs. This adds hours of manual labor, data loss, and rework to the design process – and yet engineers on both sides still work in series and are largely isolated from each other.
“Exporting and importing files is what most EDA companies call co-design,” says Ted Pawela, Chief Ecosystem Officer at Altium. “It’s like sending a letter to someone in the mail and calling it collaboration. Altium CoDesigner simply keeps MCAD in sync with ECAD so that electronic and mechanical design teams can actually work simultaneously. ”
Altium’s CoDesigner feature gives PCB designers using Altium Designer (with an active subscription) a much faster and easier way to collaborate with mechanical designers working with tools such as PTC Creo, Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS, Autodesk Inventor and Autodesk Fusion 360. Mechanical engineers can use CoDesigner at no cost and while staying in their preferred MCAD design environment.
“With CoDesigner’s ability, we can spot potential issues like we couldn’t before,” says Jeremie Waller, senior. electrical engineer at Quantel Laser USA, a division of Lumibird, a world leader in laser technology. “We can see silkscreens, hidden vias, making sure the polarities are correct, where the traces of copper are – our models are now 100% complete, including overlay and copper. I don’t have to worry about board shapes or connector locations, even in very tight spaces. With the ability of CoDesigner, we are confident that everything will go exactly as planned during manufacture, ”adds Waller.
To configure CoDesigner, mechanical engineers only need to download a free plug-in from the Altium website or the MCAD plug-ins page in Altium 365 for their MCAD tool. Once they’re ready to share, mechanical designers can simply sync their MCAD tools with Altium Designer and Altium 365.
Paul Spendley is a senior electronics engineer at YASA, LTD., A manufacturer specializing in electric motors, controllers and powertrain solutions for hybrid and electric automotive and aerospace manufacturers. For Spendley, the combination of Altium 365 and CoDesigner has completely changed the way his team works.
As he explains, “the MCAD / ECAD collaboration before CoDesigner emailed STEP files; sometimes they opened, sometimes not. The components would be lost, so it would take us several iterations to get the right designs. On the ECAD side, this required at least 3-4 steps which lasted about 10 minutes each; and on the MCAD side, it took hours.
Adding CoDesigner completely changed this process. “Our mechanical designers always have the most up-to-date ECAD design. I can apply the latest design changes directly to their MCAD tool – we now have a two-way design process, ”Spendley reports.
Laine McNeil, senior mechanical engineer at Quantel Laser USA, agrees. “Before I started using the Altium CoDesigner, there was an element of ‘us versus them’. It’s a much more collaborative process now. We no longer lack context when working with our PCB design teams. “
Eliminate overtime hours with a simple plug-in
The Altium CoDesigner gives mechanical engineers the ability to design alongside PCB designers in real time and allows for effortless product design revisions.
Access to CoDesigner is easy for ECAD and MCAD users. The MCAD CoDesigner extension is included in the standard installation of Altium Designer, appearing as a panel that is always available in the PCB editor. Once MCAD users install the aforementioned plug-in, CoDesigner is just as easily accessible.
For Thomas Pottle, electronic design engineer at AERQ, a leading company in digital cabin technology, Altium CoDesigner has been a huge time saver. As Pottle explains, “Before we started using CoDesigner, we were manually uploading files via email, from ECAD to MCAD only. In a single project, I generated over 40 files in ECAD, each one taking about 30 minutes to upload to my MCAD software. It was especially frustrating when the files weren’t working, and I had to spend hours trying to figure out why. “
Once the AERQ electronics design team added Altium CoDesigner, their processes changed dramatically. “With CoDesigner, it’s so much easier,” confirms Pottle.
“The use of Altium 365 and CoDesigner was a quantum leap in our design process. And CoDesigner is there in Altium Designer – I can’t imagine not using it, ”concludes Jeremie Waller of Quantel.
Altium, a global software company based in San Diego, Calif., Is accelerating the pace of innovation with electronics. For more than 30 years, Altium has provided software that maximizes the productivity of circuit board designers and electrical engineers. From individual inventors to multinationals, more and more PCB designers and engineers are choosing Altium software to design and build electronic products.