Electronic engineers thrive to develop new innovative devices, but they are facing many challenges. These include finding the right prototype, hardware architecture, PCB board or electronic component.
To address these challenges, companies in the electronic sector are continuously developing and enhancing software platforms. Their goal is to help engineers bring their imagination to an optimized output.
Here are some companies that play a significant role in disrupting the electronic industry.
In an electronic circuit, the slightest mistake can result in a non-working system or a less efficient one. Even the most expert engineers can miss errors while designing their PCB boards. To avoid that, they can use an online tool to rapidly turn their idea into a physical PCB.
ExpressPCB is a company that provides a range of softwares to help engineers during the design stage.
One of the key feature is “xCheck“. It analyses and identifies the missing pin connections before moving to the manufacturing phase. Users can also get real time pricing of their PCB and shipping information using “Express PCB Plus“.
Express PCB helps beginners to avoid errors during PCB design. It lowers also the number of prototypes needed before manufacturing.
Most of the traditional EDA softwares focus only on the needs of the advanced users. ExpressPCB helps beginners by providing simple tools to support their idea. This can definitely help in the development of more innovative products in the coming years.
It’s time consuming to make symbols, footprints and model parts in 3D. It can also be difficult to find and copy attribute data out of PDF datasheets. This can lead to several errors if it is not done with proper care.
Upverter is an online EDA software that allows users to pick up and customize designs from thousands of hardware designs. They have also created EE Concierge, which creates and verifies schematic symbols for components, footprints for PCBs and 3d models. The company garanties respect to industry standards.
With its advanced pricing algorithm, the software allows engineers to discover the best price for every requested part. They can then meet the financial requirements of their BOM. In comparison to other tools, Upverter has features to route, create parts and symbols easily. Their “Parts Concierge service” handles part creation for you from scratch.
Collaborative features allow engineers to interact with overseas experts in real-time. The software company has reduced the PCB manufacturing issues that may occur due to design errors. Their user friendly UI and learning material can develop the industry by educating many young engineers and students.
Choosing the right component for your electronic design is always a challenging task for engineers. This is partly due to the high complexity of information in datasheets.
FindChips is a free search engine that helps engineers get instant insights on any electronic component. They provide unique market intelligence and advanced analytics to electronic parts.
Formally called Spark, Particle develops fully integrated IoT platforms that combines hardware, software and connectivity. Users can connect them to the internet in a few minutes using Wifi and cellular network.
The Electron and the Photon are two hardware platforms from Particle. The Photon connects to the cloud via Wifi while the Electron connects via cellular data.
To address the connectivity issue, Particle has launched “ParticleMesh”. This tool lets developers build local, low-power mesh networks between devices. This helps makers bring the power of the internet to their devices with a simple and easy-to-use platform. As a result, they can handle the complexities of IoT like provisioning and OTA updates. ParticleMesh allows them to focus on the solutions and to be more productive.
Choosing a manufacturer for prototype manufacturing is time-consuming. EasyEDA is a powerful online PCB software with a spice circuit simulator. The Schematics and PCB Files can be imported from Eagle, Altium Designer, Kicad and LTspice. It provides SVG source to preview the Schematic, the PCB Layout and the Gerber file.
With their “One-Click Feature” EasyEDA connects with JLCPCB to allow engineers to put designs into PCB production in just one click.
It’s a one-stop solution that makes the work of engineers faster. It also has interesting offers such as ‘Big Price Drop’: for $2, 10pcs of 10×10 2 layers PCBs are produced and shipped.
After they’ve worked on their Schematics and PCB design, engineers are usually unsure of the final cost of their PCB design. Sunstone Circuits solves this problem.
Sunstone Circuits has partnered with distributors and assembly lines to get you a working prototype faster. They offer a PCB design tool called PCB123 which comes free for Sunstone customers. The Gerber files are also provided for first-time users at no cost.
With their “One-Quote” form, they can identify the configured components and update the pricing as the user makes his selections. This allows users to have more control over cost.
Sunstone Electronics also developed the DFMplus tool. It’s a free online service that verifies the prototype. It determines which manufacturing service is most appropriate for the design specifications and identifies potential design issues.
Fritzing is an open-source hardware initiative that makes electronics accessible as a creative material for anyone. It provides a way to create simple graphics of breadboard circuits.
With “Fritzing Fab”, users can easily and inexpensively create real custom-made PCBs. Fritzing is also a learning tool. It helps makers developing new devices go from a concept to finished and assembled PCB in under 2 weeks.
There are many tools that let users copy already existing electronics projects created by a community. But some of these projects might have errors. CircuitMaker stands out from other tools by providing tested reference designs to engineers.
It is a free-to-use schematics and PCB design tool from Altium coupled with a community, with a modern interface for the Open Source Hardware community.
Its powerful features include routing, hierarchical schematic entry, auto-routing, and native 3D™ technology.
The company has partnered with key content providers such as David Jones, Robert Feranec and Jay Carlson. This helps find tested reference designs and modify them to our own needs. In addition to that, CircuitMaker provides a great overview of electronic components such as description, symbols and the projects they are used in.
The electronics industry may appear to be technically complicated for beginners. Even though there is an immense number of reference designs available, it is usually difficult to select the optimal one. The process of developing the prototype is always time consuming.
Wouldn’t be simpler if you could instantly generate your design based on the intuitive definition of your project?
ThingType is an online tool that enables engineers to build their custom IoT device just like you would do for a custom PC. Using artificial intelligence platform, it can automate the electronic design and check the consistency of the project. The necessary functions (microcontroller, sensors, radio, etc) of the project must be specified. With an built-in algorithm, it will automatically check your project and design a board.
It acts as a single point of contact that lets users order prototypes from the tool itself, and promises to get them delivered in just a few weeks. It also empowers engineers by providing real-time quotations of their BOM. In addition to manufacturing services, ThingType can also test the functionality of the board, and provide sample code to make software development faster.
Designing PCB footprints and schematic symbols from scratch is tiresome, especially since footprint errors are common in engineering. SnapEDA is an online platform that allows engineers to look for components and access free schematic models, PCB footprints and 3D models. Each part in the SnapEDA library has its own symbol, PCB footprint and parts. The components are available in formats that can be downloaded to a range of PCB platforms. These include Eagle, Altium, KiCad and many more platforms. The parts are made by their in-house engineers and they follow ANSI and IPC standards.
The components’ footprints are auto-verified by their authentication technology to check for quality and manufacturing issues. If the parts are unavailable, users can make a request for free, and the company garanties to handle the issue in 24 hours if the user pays 29$.
SnapEDA aims to build a massive library of components to help engineers work on their designs quicker. They also have a community to share knowledge with other engineers.
Softwares are the foundation of building IoT devices and defining use cases. To have a quick and effective design, engineers have to choose the tools that best fulfill their needs.
From this article, we can notice that big companies like Altium are getting more powerful thanks to a strong partnerships and acquisition strategy. The famous EDA tool has acquired Upverter, EEconcierge and Fritzing is in partnership with AISLER. They clearly use this strategy to position themselves as global leaders in the electronic industry.
These companies also demonstrate how automation can disrupt traditional EDA tools. It’s done to reduce the time spent on repetitive design tasks and human errors. They focus on decreasing the workload of hardware engineers, enabling them to design innovative devices in a more effective manner.