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54 The PCB Design Magazine • May 2016 on what we called the upstream processes, like specifying the design, creating the schematic, the layout and so on, very few companies were focusing on the back end of the process, where we actually build things. Shaughnessy: Where all the mistakes are. Clark: Exactly. Our belief was that in the whole process of NPI, new product introduction, it was equally important to focus on the front end, the upstream processes, as it was to focus on the back end, the manufacturing process – where we build things. Our vision for Down- Stream was to be the company that helps com- panies to bridge the gap or chasm between the "upstream" design processes and the "down- stream" physical processes. This was an area of new product development that we believed would move from something that was "nice to do" to "mission critical". Now, 15 years later, our vision was cor- rect. Today, when you hear companies today talk about where they are focusing it is on the downstream processes. How do we improve that hand-off from design to manufacturing? A company's time for realizing a return on their products is always shrinking. The technology itself is always advancing, geometries continue to shrink, and flex circuits and embedded com- ponents are now a reality. The complexities have increased enough that is it no longer good enough to take the design and do the prover- bial "hand it off over the wall." Companies need to understand the man- ufacturing process and prepare the upstream processes to deal with them. Basically in a nut- shell, where DownStream fits into the equa- tion is we help companies bridge that gap, that chasm, between the upstream and down- stream processes and how their products are built. Shaughnessy: Right, designers like to design. They like doing the actual design, but they don't like do- ing the manufacturing prep part – for example, cre- ating the documentation, and that's often where the mistakes are made. The people I have spoken to who use BluePrint say it pays for itself because they save time and effort, and reduce errors. Clark: Yes, you're absolutely right. As a designer, you want to push the envelope with technolo- gy. That's fun and that's what is exciting. When it comes to doing the administrative portion of it and handing it off to the next phase, that's not so much fun, especially when the tools that you have had at your disposal historically are very difficult to use. Our CAM350 product line is the defacto standard for verification and optimization of CAD files. CAM350 also has design rule checks to verify the Gerber layers match the design rules in your CAD system and your fabrica- tor. Our design for fabrication tools ensure the board not only matches manufacturing capabil- ities, but also searches out design flaws that may affect manufacturing yields. One of the things that's driving the success of our PCB documentation tool BluePrint is this concept of an intelligent design exchange for- mat. Beginning with the groundbreaking con- cept of ODB++, which was a brilliant idea by Valor but is a proprietary format, we now have a true standard – the IPC-2581. Companies that want to improve new product introduction have realized great benefits from using a single data source. The acceptance of these intelligent formats we see as a shift in the design center of gravity from a proprietary CAD database which DOWNSTREAM: WHAT A LONG EDA TRIP IT'S BEEN Joe Clark

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