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56 The PCB Design Magazine • April 2014 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 library 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 integrat- ed search on a parts database with an online dis- tributor or electronics supplier. This allows elec- tronic design engineers to immediately search and find parts online with parametric search to choose the right components, and they have ac- cess to a huge amount of technical information regarding the components themselves. This includes technical datasheets, links to guid- ance on solutions for specific applications, pric- ing and availability. This "virtual integration" of the design chain not only enhances design quality and designer productivity, but it reduc- es risks associated with misidentifying a critical component or selecting a part that is obsolete or out of stock.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 article 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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