The Best PCB Design Software Available in 2019

Printed circuit boards are used in virtually all modern consumer electronics. Designing and producing a PCB is much easier than a traditional circuit board. While a PCB will be smaller than a circuit board, it is more durable and more resilient than a traditional circuit board because it utilizes copper traces that are etched into the board, instead of relying on a physical wire.

Another advantage of a PCB is that they can be designed by just about anybody. There is lots of PCB design software out there to choose from, much of it is even free.

Altium Designer

Altium Designer was originally known as PROTEL, under which banner it established itself as one of the most popular and widely-used PCB design software packages on the market. Not only does Altium Designer come with everything you need to design and produce your own printed circuit boards, you can further expand its capabilities by enabling additional platform extensions. For example, you can make use of the Allegro PCB importer by enabling it in Altium.

Many universities that teach courses that cover PCB design will have specific units that cover Altium, or an older version of PROTEL. This is one of the best software options for PCBs that consist of just a few layers. However, for boards of more than four layers, you might want to try a different option.

PADS

PADS is another very popular option for designing PCBs. One of Power PCBs biggest advantages is its ease of use. This makes it an excellent option for those who are new to PCB design and still need to learn the ropes. Hobbyists and small businesses in particular will appreciate the simplicity and streamlined nature of PADS.

If you don’t have any previous experience with either CAD or EDA (electronic design automation), PADS is an excellent place to start. There aren’t many other options out there that are this easy to pick up and use without any prior training or experience. Beginners should start here.

ORCAD

ORCAD was developed in the late 80’s. It is one of the oldest and most well established options out there. Among the key selling points of ORCAD are its intuitive interface, great functionality and excellent simulation capabilities. This is another software option that is relatively easy to pick up if you have no previous experience.

Eagle

Eagle, which is short for Easily Applicable Graphical Layout Editor, is pretty much the standard for hobbyist hardware makers, if that’s what you want to do with your PCB designs then you can’t go far wrong with Eagle. Eagle is especially good if you will be downloading other people’s projects to use or modify.

Eagle does cost money, but it is one of the more affordable options on the market and represents one of the best value software packages available.

The best software option for you will depend on the type of PCBs that you want to produce, as well as your previous experience using CAM and EDA. The above options are a great place to begin your search, keep looking until you find one that is right for you.

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