At first glance, mechanical engineering and PCB design would seem to have little in common. Electronic circuits revolve around semiconductors, connectors and voltages whereas mechanical design is about geometry, contours and moving parts. However, embedded firmware is today routinely used in mechanically engineered products – everything from media systems to automobiles – meaning today the two disciplines are closely aligned.Mechatronics – the integration of electronic and mechanical components within a single system – demands advanced CAD (computer aided design) tools.look at here fpga boards.
These are divided into electrical (ECAD) and mechanical (MCAD) domains. Until recently these systems were non-compatible, existing as separate entities. CAD software developers have worked to overcome this, integrating the two disciplines by creating products which allow electro-mechanical communication over a common interface. Companies supporting ECAD-MCAD integration include Mentor, SolidWorks and Altium.The collaboration between ECAD and MCAD can be attributed to ProSTEP iViP, a consortium set up around 15 years ago by leading automotive and aerospace manufacturers, and IT and research companies. The initial aim was to establish a common platform for the exchange of CAD data, and to this end the Iso Standard known as STEP(Standard for the Exchange of Product Model Data) was introduced.As PCB design and mechanical engineering became more globalized and digitalized, so development, production and distribution became more complex. The demand for increasingly complex technology of high quality was coupled with ever shorter development cycles. To address this, ProSTEP established several working projects, including the ECAD/MCAD Collaboration project, giving rise to the ECAD/MCAD Implementer Forum. The object was to integrate existing ECAD and MCAD systems, by giving programmers a platform to implement ECAD/MCAD data collaboration methods.
Mentor Graphics and PTC were among the first to develop ProSTEP’s ECAD-MCAD STEP data exchange protocol into a consumer product, after working together on the Collaboration project. In 2008, they developed software in which the MCAD model and PCB design are shown side-by-side. When the mechanical design engineer makes an alteration to the MCAD model, the effect is shown on the PCB layout, and vice versa.Altium, known for their ECAD and FPGA design tools, have developed an ECAD-MCAD integration environment, which allows PCB designers to import entire mechanical designs enabling them to create printed circuit boards to exactly the right size, volume and contours in confidence. The PCB designer can work directly from an MCAD model imported from a source document, which cleverly incorporates a blank template for the PCB design, including cut-outs and mounting holes.