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Altium’s CoDesigner capability is designed for mechanical engineers to collaborate on PCB design and deployment, allowing electrical and control engineers to work together.

Altium, best known for software solutions designed for engineers and designers, recently announced the release of their free CoDesigner capability designed to support the collaboration of mechanical engineers.

Collaboration Between Electrical Engineers and Mechanical Engineers

PCB assemblies involve at minimum an electronic circuit, a PCB, programmable hardware, a mechanical enclosure, and the code for the microprocessor used--and the assembly is designed using its design editor. 

 

Image showing white robotic hand reaching out to blue pcb design hand
Altium created this capability to bring mechanical engineers into the PCB design process with new manufacturing and CAD tools. Image used courtesy of Altium

One of the major challenges involved with PCB assembly design involves effective collaboration between electrical engineers and mechanical engineers, which is further complicated when they do not have access to a common interface for making design changes and updates to CAD files. 

Keep in mind that mechanical engineers work with MCAD (Mechanical Computer-Aided Design) while electrical and control engineers work with ECAD (Electrical Computer-Aided Design). 

When working on a PCB assembly design, collaboration demands manually exporting, importing, and file conversion is necessary for and not only does this lead to time wasted during the design process but also data loss.

Altium CoDesigner 

Altium’s CoDesigner capability solves this problem for Altium ECAD users, bridging the divide between MCAD and ECAD with a straightforward software plug-in for MCAD. 

screenshot of altium codesigner
PCB assembly design can lead to serious challenges when mechanical and electrical engineers collaborate, but Altium's free MCAD CoDesigner plug-in aims to make the process simpler. Image used courtesy of Altium

 

The CoDesigner capability allows mechanical engineers to work with PCB designers without importing, exporting, and file conversion. Instead, design teams can work on the same design in real-time--and remote collaboration has become increasingly popular during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MCAD and ECAD

Once the free plug-in is installed, mechanical engineers still work in their MCAD environment on assemblies: CoDesigner merely appears as a plug-in in the MCAD systems. 

ECAD files can be sent to mechanical engineers and opened using the CoDesigner capability. Then, mechanical engineers can open the files in their native MCAD environment. Once they are ready to share any changes or comments, it becomes a simple matter of pushing (or pulling) changes into the Altium ECAD space. 

Using the Altium CoDesigner capability may save time during the design process, eliminates file errors resulting from file conversion and import/export processes. It can also reduce the likelihood of design errors that can create complications downstream. It also can reduce the need for rework and record changes, timestamps, and comments.

The free CoDesigner capability promises a solution to the leading challenges in collaboration between MCAD and ECAD users and is supported by major MCAD packages such as PTC Creo, Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS, and both Autodesk Inventor and Fusion 360. In addition, the CoDesigner plug-in is available as a free download from Altium.