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Software promises end to assembly headaches

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Complementing its already extensive line-up of EDA tools, Altium has recently released CAMtastic on its DXP design platform.

Computer aided manufacturing (CAM) software, such as CAMtastic, has traditionally provided an edit-and-verification system that bridges the gap between PCB design and manufacturing, allowing board designers and fabrication engineers to share information. Typically, a CAM tool will process a PCB design file and generate assembly data that allows a PCB manufacturer to build boards.

Rather than rely upon the multitude of existing file formats that plague designers and assemblers alike, the company’s uses data-sharing techniques that allow designers to exchange information using a common format. This change has obvious implications: Design data, such as a bill-of-materials for example, can be integrated into supply chain databases without the laborious check and double check that is associated with manual entry. Alternatively, assembly instructions may be swapped with third party PCB fabricators more easily and without the need for expensive format conversion packages.

“CAMtastic DXP has been specifically developed to facilitate this data transfer with extensive import and export formats and strengthened data verification,” comments Phil Loughhead, product manager at Altium. “This provides tight tool integration and superior ease-of-use, ensuring designs are error free and completely ready for efficient fabrication and assembly.”

The usual import and export capabilities have been preserved with added support for a wider range of file formats, allowing an array of exotic file types to be manipulated. But more importantly, CAMtastic DXP can now import and export ODB++ files, a format that is emerging as the de facto standard for data exchange throughout the electronics industry. Support for IPC-D356 standard net-lists and Altium’s QuickLoad feature allow these file types to be loaded simultaneously.

CAMtastic DXP also offers a variety of PCB design analysis tools, including graphical and geometric routines necessary to edit and modify designs for fabrication and assembly. Eighteen of the most common manufacturing design flaws such as solder bridging, power and ground plane shorts, or silkscreen-over-solder mask can be detected and repaired automatically with a single mouse click.

Combined with standard rotating and flipping commands, upgraded panelisation features mean panels can be optimised for cost and assembly. A straightforward process allows a single board to fill a panel according to border and spacing specifications provided by either designer or fabricator. Additional data such as fiducials, drill coupons and tooling holes can be defined as individual steps and inserted into the panel alongside the array of board data. Furthermore, CAM data from different boards can be loaded as steps into the same panel allowing any grouping of boards to be arranged to fill the available space.

CAMtastic DXP includes a range of NC rout capabilities, including auto-routing, rout tabs and automatic mill path definition. NC rout paths can be defined automatically by edge tracing existing board objects, or manually with full control over tool parameters, and rout direction.

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