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50 The PCB Design Magazine • November 2015 side hand taping, light tables, digitizers and joy sticks. We believe the trend towards adopting design exchange files is well underway and will accelerate rapidly in the next few years. Evange- lizing and accelerating the adoption of design exchange files is one our biggest challenges. Shaughnessy: how does downstream help de- signers manage their design data? Gallant: At Downstream, we have long recog- nized the need for eliminating the old multi-file approach of passing design data to manufac- turing. In support of enhancing the transition from virtual to physical product, we have as- sumed a proactive role in the development and adoption of the IPC-2581 intelligent design ex- change format, a non-proprietary, robust stan- dard for a design exchange file format. On the awareness side, we are equally proac- tive with our membership in the IPC-2581 Con- sortium, an expanding group of organizations involved in all aspects of PCB design and manu- facturing. This group includes OEMs, EDA tool providers, PCB fabricators, PCB contract manu- facturers and PCB test companies. We embrace the consortium's goal to create awareness for and accelerate adoption of the IPC-2581 format as an open global standard format. Shaughnessy: have you updated your tools to ad- dress this issue? Gallant: Yes, we have. Downstream has devel- oped bi-directional interfaces for IPC-2581 and Mentor ODB++ for all of its products. We also developed our tools to fully utilize these in- telligent design formats to perform advanced DFM analysis, design assembly and fabrication panels including flip and mixed-design panels, and define assembly process steps and create visual aids for each assembly step. Out tools can extract centroid files for a single design or a stepped up panel, filtered by process step and/ or assembly variant, and automatically create complete PCB documentation sets for engineer- ing and manufacturing. In addition, supporting singular standard exchange file formats facili- tates a simplified ECO process. Any analysis or documentation authored in the DownStream tools is updated instantly by simply importing the updated file into our tools. By supporting intelligent files used in the handoff from design to engineering, Down- Stream can automate the creation of detailed PCB documentation meeting the needs of de- sign and manufacturing. And updates to both engineering and manufacturing's documenta- tion are done automatically simply be re-im- porting the new design database. Shaughnessy: Are designers still providing mini- mal documentation during data handoff to manu- facturing? Gallant: PCB designers are accustomed to hand- ing off hard copy fabrication and assembly drawings, Gerber files, and NC drill files. How- ever, designers are hindered by the limited doc- umentation functions in native PCB CAD tools. It is not that the designer wants to provide poor documentation, but the time required to create detailed documentation using current method- ologies is challenging with limited resource ca- pacities. As a result, some documentation sets are still very basic. Once the design and docu- mentation are transitioned to manufacturing, whether in-house or to third-party manufactur- ers, another documentation cycle begins. The manufacturers create manufacturing, assembly, test and other process-based documentation derived from the engineering documentation. Unfortunately, much of the documentation done in manufacturing is primarily a manual effort using a mix of tools like Visio, MS Word & Paint, mechanical tools such as AutoCAD, " at Downstream, we have long recognized the need for eliminating the old multi-file approach of passing design data to manufacturing. " DOWNSTREAM TAkES ON DATA DOCuMENTATION MANAGEMENT feature interview

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