1Free or Open Source Software
- 1.3DesignSpark PCB
- 1.8Osmond PCB
2Proprietary or Paid Software
- 2.1Altium Designer
- 2.2OrCAD PCB Designer
- 2.5Mentor Graphics Xpedition
- 2.6Auto TRAX DEX
- 3.3Related Articles
Printed Circuit Boards (PCB) are an integral part of the electronic products, large and small. The size of the electronic gadgets is heavily dependent on the design of the PCB. They are not only used by professionals but also by small designers and hobbyists who want implement the prototypes in a more practical way.
[Read: Circuit Design and Simulation Softwares]
There are many PCB Design Softwares available. Some softwares are proprietary and paid while some are available for free with some restrictions. The article gives a list of few commonly used PCB layout design softwares. The softwares mentioned here are not listed or categorized in any specific order. Depending on the requirement of the user and the project, one must select the software.To download these softwares click on their names.
Free or Open Source Software
KiCad is very easy to use and has a huge support in the open source hardware community.
KiCad is available for different platforms like Windows, Mac and Linux.
KiCad has an integrated environment for schematic entry (Eeschema) and PCB design (Pcbnew) along with some tools like 3D visualization of PCB, bill of materials and Gerber file generation (GerbView).
It has tools to import components from other EDA tools such as eagle.
ExpressPCB is another popular free PCB design software.
Here are some features of this software
- Add on device drivers
- Rats-nest generation from simple net lists
- Drawing directly on the silk layer
- Netlist window
- Trace optimizer
- Connectivity verification
- Auto router
ExpressPCB design software has two applications included: ExpressSCH, for drawing schematics and ExpressPCB, for PCB layout.
The schematic files can be easily linked with the PCB application.
It is available only for Windows.
DesignSpark PCB is a free software package for schematic capture and PCB layout.
- The software consists of schematic entry and PCB layout and the link between them is very easy.
- The libraries for components are aligned with RSComponents.
- It can be easily interfaced with other tools like LTSpice, Tina and Eagle. Even though it is free of cost, users must register with the website to unlock all features.
PCB is a free, open source and interactive PCB editor available for Windows, Linux, Mac and UNIX systems.
PCB includes many professional features like 16 copper layers, auto-router, trace optimizer, DRC etc.
While PCB is the printed circuit board layout tool, gEDA is the free schematic capture software.
XCircuit can also be used for schematic diagrams. PCB can be interoperated with gEDA and XCircuit.
Fritzing is an open source EDA tool for Arduino prototyping and PCB design.
- It is created to allow artists, hobbyists and designers to create their own PCB’s so that non-engineers can also learn, teach and share electronics.
- Fritzing is one of the easiest tool to produce PCB’s and the designed PCB can be manufactured with the help of FritzingFab.
ZenitPCB is another excellent PCB design software tool to create professional printed circuit boards.
- ZenitPCB has a friendly user interface and a huge part libraries.
- It It can be used for personal and hobby projects and the only restriction is it is limited to 800 pins.
- The software consists of two applications: ZenitCapture, for schematic designs and ZenithPCB, for PCB layout.
TinyCAD is a free and open source program for schematic capture and PCB layout. It is available only for Windows systems.
TinyCAD supports several standard libraries as well as custom symbol libraries. TinyCAD can also be used for one line diagrams, block diagrams and also presentation diagrams.
TinyCAD allows the users to publish the PCB layouts as image files in PNG or BMP formats for documentation.
- Osmond PCB is a free PCB design software for Macintosh systems.
- There are no restrictions and limitations imposed and boards of any size and shape can be designed.
- Osmond PCB supports multiple copper layers and has libraries for both through-hole and SMD parts.
- Small designs up to 700 pins can be designed freely and is suitable for beginners and hobbyists.
- For larger designs (boards with more than 700 pins), we need to purchase the license to generate and view Gerber files.
- PCBWeb is another good platform for PCB layout. It is a free software with no restrictions on the copper layers, size of the board and number of components on the board.
- It is currently available for Windows systems and support for other platform is being planned.
- We cannot import files from other CAD tools at present. The software is developed by Digi-Key.
- The schematic capture tool is called SchemeIt and the parts are from Digi-Key.
PCB123 is developed by Sunstone circuits.
- It is a free and award winning PCB design software.
- A schematic editor can be used to create multi-page schematics or the PCB layout can be directly designed by placing the components and the software will automatically create the schematic.
- PCB123 has 750,000+ predefined parts which can be used while designing.
- Other features include flexible importing of NETLIST, inbuilt DRC (Design Rule Check) and DFM (Design for Manufacturing), user friendly graphical user interface and real time search option to check the availability of components in the market.
- PCB123 is fast and easy to use and got proven from Intel, Texas Instruments, HP, Honeywell etc.
- Free PCB is an open source PCB design software for Windows systems.
- Even though it doesn’t have an auto-router tool, a free web based routing tool called Freerouting can be used for partial or full auto-routing.
- The FreePCB software can support up to 16 copper layers.
Proprietary or Paid Software
Altium Designer is a premium EDA software for PCB, FPGA and embedded system design.
It is one of the popular PCB design package. Altium Designer tool suite includes all aspects of product development like schematic capture, PCB design or layout, embedded software development, FPGA design etc. in a single design environment.
It is available for Windows platform.
OrCAD PCB Designer
OrCAD PCB Designer is another popular PCB design software from Cadence. It is a part of OrCAD Circuit Design Suite, which also includes OrCAD Capture, OrCAD PSpice Designer etc.
OrCAD PCB Designer includes various automation features for PCB design, board-level analysis and design rule checks (DRC).
The routing in the PCB design can be done either manually or using the Auto-Router provided.
It is available for Windows and Linux platforms.
- DipTrace offers everything to create simple or complex multi-layer printed circuit boards.
- The DipTrace software has four modules: Schematic capture, PCB Layout editor, component & pattern editor and 3D modelling of PCB. It supports Windows, Mac and Linux.
- There are different versions like starter, standard and full with DipTrace full version being the ultimate edition will no restrictions.
- There is also a 30-day trial version available for free.
- EAGLE stands for Easy Applicable Graphical Layout Editor.
- It is a powerful schematic capture and PCB design software package developed by CadSoft.
- Eagle is a fully integrated tool providing necessary features to create the simplest to complex designs.
- It offers user friendly yet powerful solutions for PCB design with the help of three modules: Schematic Capture, Board Layout, and Auto-router.
- It is available for all the major platforms like Windows, Mac and Linux.
- There are both paid and free versions of Eagle available. The free version has many limitations and is suitable for hobbyists to design small circuits.
Mentor Graphics Xpedition
- Xpedition is a PCB design software from Mentor Graphics.
- It is generally used in FPGA designs. The software comprises of six PCB design tasks: Design creation, Simulation, PCB Layout, Design Collaboration, Library Management and Design for manufacturing.
Auto TRAX DEX
Auto TRAX Design Express (DEX) is a powerful PCB design software for electronic engineers developed by DEX2020.
It is an integrated EDA tool that has tools like schematic capture, PCB design physical layout, built in SPICE simulator, 3D board visualization etc.
- TINA Design Suite is an integrated circuit simulator for analog, digital and mixed signals and PCB design.
- TINA is available for Windows, Linux and Mac and there is a cloud based online version which can be accessed using any web browser.
- The integrated PCB design software has all the features needed for advanced PCB design like multilayer PCB’s, auto-placement, auto-routing, 3D view of the PCB design, Gerber file output and many more.
Proteus is another paid tool.This available for different platforms like windows,MAC,linux.
- Schematic Capture module
- PCB Layout module
- Hardware Accelerated Display Technology
- Global Shape Based Autorouting
- External Autorouter Interface
- 3D Board Visualisation
- Upverter is another web-based EDA tool for PCB layout. The tool is an integration of schematic capture, PCB layout and design review.
- The free version of the software allows up to two projects per registered user with certain restrictions and the professional paid version allows unlimited projects with all the feature unlocked.
- Circuit Maker is a web-based schematic entry and PCB design software. It is developed Altium and is free for the open source hardware community.
- There are no limitations on the copper layers and board size. It can be used by students, hobbyists, designers and even professionals for commercial or non-commercial purposes.
- The designs can be shared in the open source community.