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68 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I JULY 2019 try, and we see printed electronics as one of the emerging niches in the market. We want to en- sure our users can stay up to date and are not lim- ited by the tool to move forward with their prod- ucts—that was the key motivation. We have been working with an excel- lent partner, Tactotek, to create design capabilities and parameters for print- ed electronics. They make production scale injection molded structural elec- tronics (IMSE). Shaughnessy: What sort of applications are your cus- tomers producing that fea- ture printed electronics? Do they include wearables? Ponomarenko: We don't always have these in- sights, but some applications we know about are capacitive touch displays, automotive, con- sumer electronics, medical, and even some wearables. Shaughnessy: What are some of the biggest challenges related to designing printed elec- tronics? Ponomarenko: Maturation of the technology remains the biggest hurdle. However, if we just talk about the design aspect, establish- ing the continuous and scalable flow is a big one. This includes the basics of how the out- puts will be generated. Since it is just print- ing, traditional outputs, such as Gerbers, are not always the best. This shift in the para- digm of the design has its toll. PCB design- ers need to shift not only their design habits but also the perception of the board. In some situations, it becomes a structural element rather than just the traditional computational element. ometry) instead of the assumed solid as seen in traditional boards. For each of the printing passes ("layers"), you can explicitly define the ink material. Connectivity between conductive layers as- sumes the physical connection of the printed materials in Z-axis. For example, part of the trace might consist of segments printed with different inks or it takes multiple passes to reach the desired thickness of the feature. When such connectivity is not desirable, the designer can simply build the dielectric cross- overs, isolating different nets when they need to jump over each other using a manual or au- tomated approach (Figure 2). To control the shorts and connectivity, the rules and constraints system was adjusted and acknowledges the uniqueness of the Z-axis connectivity of the printed designs. Shaughnessy: What were some of the drivers that led you all to develop PEC design func- tions? Ponomarenko: Altium has always been a lead- er of innovation in the EDA software indus- Figure 2: A dielectric shapes generator helps designers with unique issues related to printed electronic circuits.

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