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32 The PCB Magazine • February 2014 A challenge for board designers with this sort of technology is dealing with and creating the complex shapes needed to implement the com- ponents. Engineers regularly mention spending too much precious product development time creating footprints or in other parts of library management. This is a very important issue. You can't be designing a custom part for each component you want to add to your circuit. While some third-party tools come with many libraries already, tens of thousands more are available online or in design portals from manufacturers and user shared libraries such as the element14 community. Building a custom li- brary from scratch can take over 20 minutes per part for a small quantity, so being able to rely upon a rich pool of information validated by an active community is a significant benefit. Within complex devices, if the design is open users can specify the parts through an integrated search on a parts database with an online distributor or electronics supplier. This allows electronic de - sign engineers to immediately search and find parts online with parametric search to choose the right components, and they have access to a huge amount of technical information regarding the components themselves. This includes tech- nical datasheets, links to guidance on solutions for specific applications, pricing and availability. This "virtual integration" of the design chain not only enhances design quality and designer productivity, but it reduces risks associated with misidentifying a critical component or selecting a part that is obsolete or out of stock. Jeremy Blum, open hardware designer and hardware engineer at Google, points out: As designs continue to get more and more com- plex, following best practices becomes more and more important. For novice designers, it's easy to encounter a myriad of potential design problems that may or may not be caught by traditional DFM checks. Some of the things to look for when pre- paring a PCB for production are problems that are only fully understood by designers who have been THE INTERNET OF THINGS DRIvES NEw PCB DESIGN APPROACH continues Figure 3: 3d visualisation enables users to simulate larger systems, here shown as a Pcb board design in an enclosure. this saves time and cost even before prototype is built. (Source: eagleup)

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