ECAD tools, as we know, are required to design an integrated circuit in terms of behavioral description, netlist, schematics and layout. The ECAD tools provide a Design Rule Checker (DRC) to inform the designer if they are designing the object correctly. ECAD tools provide both logic level and register level simulators. It also includes tools to support the design for testability. It can model the integrated circuit as a whole or as a set of functional blocks.
However, MCAD includes the overall design aspects of the objects designed over a computer. It not only refers to the overall appearance of the designed objects but, also conveys information regarding material, processes, dimensions and tolerances.
Altium with Desktop EDA
Altium has partnered with Desktop EDA to provide designers with advanced ECAD and MCAD integration. Desktop EDA also provides the Altium designers with new add-on applications as EDA SolidWorks Modeler and IDF modelers. Altium Limited is a global leader in Smart System Design Automation and the provider of advanced 3D PCB design solutions and embedded software development. Though, Desktop EDA develops software for electronics and mechanical design customers on various technologies such as- 3D Modeling/Visualization, IDF translators, circuit board design productivity tools, custom software development, training and professional services.
Daniel Fernsebner, Director of Technical Partnerships for Altium said, “By partnering with Desktop EDA, we’re extending Altium’s market-leading position as a native 3D PCB design system provider.” He further added, “Desktop EDA apps for Altium Designer focus on bringing greater productivity to mechanical designers working with PCB designs.”
The extension apps and their companion plug-ins for Altium Designer provides a bridge between the ECAD and MCAD design world.
SolidWorks Modeler for Altium Designer
SolidWorks is an application to design 3D models of a PCB, modify the shape of the PCB and to reflect those changes on a PCB editor. It also allows one to check and correct assembly problems such as misalignment of mounting holes or mechanical interference.
SolidWorks Modeler app provides a bi-directional interface between Altium Designer and SolidWorks. This means that the changes made in the SolidWorks assembly can be synchronized easily in the PCB editor and vice-versa. This eliminates the use of intermediate files to synchronize design changes and facilitates engineering change orders (ECO). It also eliminates translation issues, saves time and provides a more detailed model of the PCB design in SolidWorks. SolidWorks Modeler includes PCB copper layers for the data transfer between Altium Designers and SolidWorks that can be used as a starting point for more advanced mechanical CAD operations, such as thermal simulation.
IDF Modeler for Altium Designer
The IDF Modeler app enables the designers to model their PCB designs in 3D CAD packages that support the IDF format. IDF is an industry standard that allows the exchange of PCB design data between ECAD and MCAD systems.
The integration of ECAD with MCAD provides the following benefits to the Altium Designers:
• Eliminates requirement to recreate MCAD assemblies
• Increased productivity
• Allows full synchronization capabilities between target applications
• Allows complex PCB shapes
• Reduces the design process time
The SolidWorks modeler fully supports Altium Bodies, whereas the IDF modeler supports Altium designer board shape, Altium cut outs and top & bottom placed components. Both are tested with Pro/Engineer, SolidWorks, Inventor, Solid Edge and Alibre.
The SolidWorks Modeler includes 500MB of SolidWorks parts and is available for Altium Designer 13, Summer 09, Winter 09, Summer 08, 6 and DXP 2004 and Protel 99SE, whereas IDF Modeler is available for all versions of Altium Designer, DXP2004, DXP and Protel 99SE.