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PCB Design & Layout

What is PCB design or PCB layout?

Printed circuit board design, also named as PCB design, is a process that combines circuit layout and components placement. Usually, hardware design engineers design the circuit, and then PCB layout specialists perform PCB layout and design based on the schematics provided using the PCB CAD system.


The PCB layout or design is a complex skill that requires a good knowledge of PCB CAD system and PCB design software but also a variety of techniques and standards to ensure the basic circuit design can be successfully achieved on board through the manufacturing process.


Some popular PCB design software

1. Altium Designer

2. Eagle

3. Allego Cadance

4. Protel

5. OrCAD

6. KiCAD

7. EasyEDA

8. Spring Layout

9. DesignSpark

10. Proteus

There is much software used for PCB design, here list part of them. Different software works differently, so what matters is to select the right PCB design software. Engineers should know if the PCB design software supports the demands, if the PCB design software work best in making a single-layer or multi-layer PCB layout design and if the PCB design is easy to use before choosing a PCB design software.


Some guidelines of PCB design and layout

The PCB design is one of the most critical steps in the design of electronics products. An efficient design not only can improve product performance but also can save costs. Therefore, engineers need to follow some guidelines to design a satisfactory PCB. There lists part of the principles as below:

1. Board constraints

Ensure the reference points and holes are suitable for PCB fabrication process and make sure the board area is enough for the circuit. Decide the number of track layers and the board mounting method.

2. Track design

Specify the standard track width to be used and the PCB pad shapes. It is necessary to determine the pad and hole dimensions of the board early in the PCB layout design. And the track size for lines carrying current is also crucial to be considered.

3. Planes or layers

It is wise to use a complete plane for the earth and some major powers rails when it comes to noise and current capability. Besides, avoid leaving large gaps in earth planes or power planes can reduce functional failures during the manufacturing process.

4. Signal integrity and radiofrequency interference

Many issues with PCB design are associated with signal integrity, RF, and EMC considerations. One of these is to avoid running tracks in parallel. And when two signal lines need to cross to reduce the level of crosstalk generated, they should cross at right angles.

5. Thermal issues

Thermal issues always exist in modern PCBs that with higher processing speeds and higher component densities. Therefore, allow sufficient space for cooling around hot components is required.

6. Overall PCB layout

One of the first steps of the circuit layout is to draw an initial plan of where the major components and different circuit areas will be located. Then the critical track runs can be evaluated along with judging the most convenient design.


The PCB design information here is just a few parts of many that could be devised. If you need other help in PCB design, PCB prototype, or PCB assembly, please do not hesitate to contact online services on NextPCB' s website or send Emails to

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