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46 The PCB Design Magazine • November 2015 by Andy Shaughnessy Most PCB designers love their jobs. But de- signers will also tell you that as much as they enjoy laying out the board, they dislike the final data documentation step, which often involves various formats, including handwritten notes. Enter DownStream Technologies, a company founded 14 years ago to address the challenges related to post-processing the design. Senior Product Marketing Manager Mark Gallant re- cently discussed the company's efforts to take the pain out of data documentation, even as data becomes more complex. Andy Shaughnessy: Why don't you start out by giving us a little background about downstream. Mark Gallant: DownStream Technologies was founded in January 2002 by former PADS Soft- ware executives who acquired the assets of Ad- vanced CAM Technologies—products with the brand name CAM350—from Innoveda prior to its acquisition by Mentor Graphics. The newly formed executive team chose the name Down- Stream Technologies to reflect their goal of deliv- ering technology focused on the "downstream" phase of the PCB design process. Specifically, it's technology to help bridge the chasm between PCB design and PCB manufacturing domains. At the time of DownStream's founding, the predominant method of transitioning a PCB de- sign to manufacturing involved post-processing a design to extract multiple files. Each file was independent of the other in format and con- tent, and disjointed from the original design from which they were derived. What we call the "traditional" process for handoff to manu- facturing worked well enough to take us from the days of PCB design by light table up to the start of the 21 st century. However, as technology continued to evolve in complexity and market windows to profitability continued to shrink, the traditional process led to higher costs, lower quality and ultimately delayed time to market. Our founders believe the transition from virtual design to the manufacture of the physi- cal product could be, and should be, improved. We observed this trend in several of our early adopter customers—organizations that were the first to implement new technologies and processes which, once proved out, led to adop- tion by the rest of the market. To reduce manu- facturing delays, these early adopters educated themselves on the PCB manufacturing process. Their newfound knowledge led them to intro- DownStream Takes on Data Documentation Management feature interview

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