There are several noticeable advantages and added flexibility that a designer will notice when transferring from EAGLE PCB Design to SolidWorks PCB (SW PCB). These advantages, which would save a lot of time from the designer and improve their design capabilities, are grouped under various categories, which we will visit in this blog piece. These categories include: A Unified Platform, PCB Design Environment, Connectivity to Suppliers, Output Job Creation, and Version Control. Unified Platform  Unlike EAGLE, SW PCB comes with a unified platform that allows users to access the library editor, schematic editor, and PCB editor from a single window. This capability allows ease of use and design at high efficiency without switching back and forth between multiple windows. This will also establish complete data translation when switching from the Schematic to PCB environment. Speaking of data translation and updating files, SolidWorks PCB supports an Advanced ECO (Engineering Change Order) that is contained in its unified platform. The ECO feature documents all changes made from the Schematic to the PCB including added components, nets, classes, and more. You also have the ability to export these changes using a Report. ECO’s can also be created when annotating components in a project. Cross-Probing is another great tool that is a highlight feature in SW PCB due to its unified platform capabilities. Cross-probing is a powerful search tool to help locate objects either in the schematic editor or the PCB editor, by choosing the object in one of the editors. Full cross-probing support is provided for documents, components, buses, and more. When Cross Select Mode is enabled, whenever a component is selected in one editor, it is automatically selected in the other editor. This also includes selecting multiple components in a single action, or building up a selection by holding the Shift key and repeatedly clicking to select. PCB Design Environment Compared to Eagle, SW PCB has a superior list of design rules to allow designers the flexibility of design and creating complex boards. The Design Rules available through the software have been imported from Altium Designer, and so they are detailed, offer graphical representation, and are easy to setup; there are Electrical, Routing, SMT, Mask, Plane, Testpoint, Manufacturing, and Placement design rules. Another feature that is not available in EAGLE but enhanced in SW PCB, is 3D view mode in the PCB environment. This tool allows designers to:
  • Perform 3D clearance checking with components and enclosures.
  • Visually locate connectors and other components.
  • Move components around based on the mechanical constraints
Connectivity to Suppliers In SW PCB, you can search and add Supplier Links very easily, allowing designers to move from the design phase to the manufacturing stage effortlessly. Supplier Links associated with components add parameters such as supply chain information, quantity, price, part details, Datasheets, etc. Having this information will also save time when setting up the Bill of Materials. Output Job Creation Generating outputs couldn’t have been made simpler than with SW PCB, where users have the option of configuring and creating all of their output and manufacturing files using a single dialogue. Using this tool, outputs in the form of BOMs, Schematic Prints, Gerber files, NC Drill Files, Assembly files, and more, can be generated. Moreover, exporting 3D files is another great feature of SW PCB, with the capability of generating Step files and Parasolid files to export copper bodies. Version Control With SW PCB, version control is powerful, but simple to use. Some of the version control features available to users are committing files and projects, reverting local modifications, locking files to specific users, etc. The Storage Manager panel also comes in handy with version control and allows users to view all revisions and local saves made to a file or project, and it also has the capability of comparing 2 different revisions and viewing the changes. Taha Ramy, B.ASc. Electrical Applications Specialist CAD MicroSolutions Inc. 65 International Boulevard, Toronto ON, M9W 6L9 Canada tramy@cadmicro.com | T: (416) 213-0533 ext 233