Comparing the Top 5 CAD Software for Electronics Design Development by@andreysolovev

Comparing the Top 5 CAD Software for Electronics Design Development

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Every electronics design starts with Schematic and PCB design development. This is a core aspect of building a new electronics product. There is a lot of special CAD software that help engineers automate this process and perform it faster. However, all these CAD programs are not the same since they have various tools, and interfaces, and give developers different capabilities. Nowadays, electronics products have become more advanced, and they require using modern features and CAD software design tools that allow for developing complex PCB designs and solving challenging tasks.
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Andrey Solovev

Co-founder and CTO at Integra Sources PhD in Physics and Mathematics

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Every electronics design starts with Schematic and PCB design development. This is a core aspect of building a new electronics product. There is a lot of special CAD software that help engineers automate this process and perform it faster. However, all these CAD programs are not the same since they have various tools, and interfaces, and give developers different capabilities.

Nowadays, electronics products have become more advanced, and they require using modern features and CAD software design tools that allow for developing complex PCB designs and solving challenging tasks.

The importance of CAD software tools in electronics design development

The process of an electronics product creation includes not only PCB design, layout and just placing components on a board. It also requires simulation, checking, testing, preparing for manufacture, and generating production files. An ideal CAD software should contain tools and components that help engineers build a complex multi-layer boards and link them into a single device. Besides, an engineer needs to see a complete view of the PCB design layers that form a device.

Additionally, CAD software compares the requirements for electronics design and the current design and checks it for errors and discrepancies. It helps an electronics developer correct errors and fix issues in a timely manner.

What is the right way to choose the best CAD software for your electronics design development? It depends on the functionality, features, and parameters of your future product. Let’s explore the most popular CAD software programs for PCB design development.

Altium Designer IDE

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The examples of tools for PCB design and layout development in Altium Designer

Altium Designer gain its popularity in the design community and it is used by professional electronics engineers for creating complex and complicated PCB designs. It is mostly appreciated by engineers who work on IoT and industrial solutions.

Altium Design features and advantages:

  • 3D view and 3D routing;
  • Documentation output;
  • Allows for simulation;
  • Advanced filtering;
  • PCB editor shows net names automatically;
  • Manufacturer file generating and file configuring process is smooth and seamless;
  • The capability of using this design software off-line;
  • An advanced process of checking changes in schematic and PCB editor.

Altium Design is compatible with Windows OS, find more about the system requirements for this CAD software.

EAGLE CAD IDE

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The example of the EAGLE CAD interface

EAGLE CAD software is cost-efficient, mature, and easy in usage. The name of this CAD program means Easy, Applicable, Graphical, Layout, Editor. EAGLE CAD is strong in the schematic diagram function and has a user-friendly interface.

The main features of EAGLE CAD:

  • An advanced support system;
  • The schematic editor provides electrical rule check and interconnection list generation;
  • Advanced layout diagram features;
  • Provides the annotation of changes between the schematic and PCB editor;
  • Compatible with Linux OS and macOS
  • Provides the capabilities of defining nets, wire width, and clearance to name a few.

You can check more information about EAGLE CAD here.

KiCAD IDE

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The KiCAD software interface

KiCAD is a free software that runs on a number of platforms: Linux, Windows, macOS. Due to its open-source nature, KiCAD is widely used by hobbyists and beginners.

KiCAD has some advantages:

  • Advanced electric rule checking process;
  • Footprints, symbols, and 3D models are linked with the library;
  • Contributors can edit file formats, library elements, and other KiCAD components;
  • Provides a PCB calculator that allows for estimating, for example, resistance values, track widths.

However, using KiCAD required stronger experience and community involvement in electronics design development as it contains advanced tools. You can get acquainted with KiCAD here.

OrCAD IDE

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An example of the OrCAD software interface

OrCAD is a user-friendly software that provides engineers with a complete design environment, as it is one of the oldest and most mature CAD software. This program allows for performing comprehensive PCB and signals analysis.

The main advantages of OrCAD:

  • It combines a user-friendly interface and strong simulation capabilities;
  • Provides mechanical and electric simulation;
  • It allows engineers to perform interactive routing in real-time 
  • Creating shapes and performing updates automatically;
  • Provides automatics validation of circuit;

Find more details about OrCAD software here.

These are the four most appreciated CAD software programs that provide an automatic and seamless electronics design development process. These software solutions have enhanced features and functionalities for building high-quality electronics products.

Integra Sources team has a large trusted library with all the necessary components for Altium Designer, EAGLE CAD, KiCAD, and OrCAD and can help you choose the CAD software that will be the best one for your product development.

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