A popular saying amongst PCB designers is, “simulate early, and simulate often.” Simulating PCB designs is a very crucial task that must be performed regularly in order to create desirable designs. It ensures that at all steps of the design process, the components work together efficiently, without any errors.
Now that we know the importance of PCB design Analysis, which software should one use to analyze his/her PCB design? In this section, we introduce a PCB design analysis software called NextDFM. It is a product from NextPCB, which is a PCB manufacturing and PCB Assembly service provider.
It is certainly not a simple task to design a problem-free PCB. NextDFM makes it so much more bearable. This PCB analysis software acts like a PCB designer’s “extra-eyes” to accurately detect and locate hazards in the design, therefore leading to a design with optimum performance, robustness, and reliability.
Installation Steps of NEXTDFM Software
This step is as easy as ABC
A. Go to their website
B. Click the free download button shown in the picture below
C. Register your account
Features of NEXTDFM
It allows the importation of Gerber files with just one click.
What are Gerber files in PCB? A Gerber file format is a simple, compact 2D vector image description format that is used to provide the PCB manufacturer with PCB images, and other meta-information needed for the PCB fabrication. It is currently the de facto standard used in the PCB industry.
Steps to import the Gerber File: Open the software and login, Click File on the menu bar and select open. From the list of files, choose the Gerber file you want to parse.
It has easy to read visual graphics.
There are tutorials on their website about how to use the software
It provides professional PCB Layout suggestions
As Albert Einstein once said, “The only source of knowledge is experience.” When using the NextDFM software for analyzing your PCB design, guidance on choosing the optimum PCB design layout is offered by expert PCB engineers with experience of over 10 years. A user of NextDFM is definitely in good hands. The text in the green box highlighted with the red circle is where you will find the suggestions on how to improve your design.
After the PCB Design Analysis is complete, it provides an instant quote and an estimate of the delivery time for the design from NextPCB manufacturer.
It has an impedance calculation tool
To prevent signal distortion in high-speed digital circuits. During high frequencies, the traces on the PCB act as transmission lines, each having its own impedance. The variation in impedances between the traces causes the primary signal to be reflected as it travels from one trace to another. The distorted signal travels in a different direction to the primary signal, so it imposes it, causing the primary signal to be distorted.
The traces on the PCB must therefore have a uniform controlled impedance to minimize the signal distortion. Manually calculating the impedance of the traces is a tedious and challenging task, some PCB designers use the Smith Chart to compute these calculations. What if you don’t want to do the calculations manually? NextDFM has an inbuilt impedance calculation tool to do all the hard work for you.
Steps to using the NextDFM’s Impedance calculation tool: Go to the Tools option on the menu bar and select impedance calculation. Add the impedance requirements and calculate. Check if the result satisfies your design’s requirements, if not, adjust the input parameters as needed.
In this section, we gave an introduction to NextDFM, which a software by NextPCB that detects errors in PCB designs. We listed its features and the steps one should take to download the software.
See you in the next article!