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What is PCB Library ?

When it comes to the PCB library, a lot of things have to be learned. The printed circuit board has a library, but this library does not contain books. It ordinarily contains the PCB footprints. These footprints stand not just for physical pad structure. When you hear of the PCB library, what comes to your mind? Some PCB designers assume that the library contains some books where they can learn about just designing. However, you need a super standard PCB library. At the same time, there could be some difficulties with creating a standard PCB library. It is not only about creating the library, you need to maintain it.

In this article, you shall learn what a PCB library means. You shall also read about your library maintenance and the library parts. Also, there is the need to learn how you can create your PCB footprint. Enjoy your reading!

What Does a PCB Library Mean?

Generally, a PCB library comprises some PCB footprints that typify both physical pad collections with some mechanical characteristics of the element or unit. One can selectively pick the PCB library he wants to incorporate into his design techniques. The reason one can pick from the PCB library is because there are different types. It is paramount that you become aware that there are different kinds of PCB libraries. This greatly helps with the ability to pick from the wide library categories and selections.

Different library strategies always meet different client exigencies. The PCB library requires that you understand how it works. One may get it all wrong if proper care is not taken. With the wrong PCB library set up, your PCB layout methods may fail you. However, with the right and accurate PCB library, you can have a successful board design.

The PCB library always needs factual or confirmed schematic segment ensign or totem. Also, it requires footprints that are quality so as to block weak or deficient fragments from landing on the production chains. One can know of these deficiencies via visual exploration. The footprints are important components of your PCB library.

The footprints are mostly known as some landing configurations. One must note that the footprints have to be structured according to the required industry standard for the right grouping of the PCB. The PCB design gear positions notation and footprints from a section library. It is noteworthy that the standard of your library can have explicit significance on your design. Sometimes, sections in your library can become so outdated.

The kinds of sections an engineer selects in the course of designing matter so much. Various vendors come with several solutions when it comes to the PCB library. However, each tool that one uses differs based on the client. Different users have what is best suitable for them. Users should know that the moment your PCB library is perky, your panel unavoidably becomes thronged with details relating to the composite footprints of your library.

The panel in a way provides you the capability to make effect on any corrections created on them straight away to the PCB design document. One thing is, panels can be patterned to be wafting in the editor intercosmic space or probably berth to angles of the windbreak. The library is regarded as a solution provider. This is because it mostly helps solve problems related to designs.

Your PCB library may have just a PCB footprint. It is not in all scenarios that your library has multiple footprints. However, the PCB library will always portray the organic pad compact and other fixed characteristics of the component. You should always ensure you inspect or analyze all designs before deciding to produce your layout.

This is the standard most professional designers follow through in the course of their designs. With a very good PCB library, you save a lot of time when designing. This is because of the fixed arrangements of each of the components in the library. With a quality library, you are also certain of accuracy in your design.

Some employ the service of a PCB library executive who helps supervise the library components at all times. This is because the executive has some experience in the proper management of the library. One’s parts library can become equipped with useful tools. It will then meet the standard of the industry.

Your PCB library needs to be updated regularly. Maintenance is very crucial and it is good for your productivity. You need to update it with fresh, innovative, and trendy component sections, schematic codes, footprints, and quality 3D designs.

When having your PCB library, make sure the parts symbols with the footprints are well structured. Note that the part library could be a kind of problem for any PCB layout. This problem arises when you do not manage your library professionally. All you need is easy schematic codes for every component of the library.

What are the Library Parts?

altium library

Earlier in our discussion, we made mention of “part library”. You may have begun to wonder what the library parts are.

In the generic sense, the PCB library comprises different sections. Hope you remember discussing  component sections earlier? So, the library has multiple sections that are important to it. Some of these sections include the; Periodicals Section, Circulation Section, Cataloguing Section, Acquisition Section, and the Reference Section among others.

Each section is responsible for the accurate functioning of the library. One thing about these sections is that they help you easily get the needed documentation you need. These sections may be present in physical libraries as well. However, with the PCB library, there are slight differences there. But it has some major components related to the “common” libraries.

What Does A PCB Footprint Mean?

Yes, this is one of the most asked questions about the PCB library. In fact, it is an unavoidable question people ask. In the PCB library as well as design, there is a footprint. Above, we mentioned footprints when discussing the library.

A footprint simply means the configuration for a thermionic component that gets soldered in the library. Be it via a hole interface, a surface rouse electrical condenser, or a massive ball grid array (BGA), each part solders into the PCB must get a footprint. Note that the moment each pad is not well-positioned, then the part may develop difficulty because it does not solder the right way.

The footprint arrangements and scheme must also be rightly placed. Problems arise when the footprints are not fully in the right place. The PCB library parts must be given full attention. One needs to strictly adhere to the tips when creating PCB footprints. If otherwise, there are a lot of challenges you may likely face. The difficulties are highlighted below;

Incorrect Spacing for Pads: At the end of the day, one of the issues one is confronted with is the bad spacing for pads. When the pads become so close, it can create problems. This is also the same when they are so far from each other.

Wrong Pad Sizes: This is certainly another difficulty one ends up experiencing. You get to fix the wrong Pad Sizes. Any small pad may eventually create any form of breakout challenge for the hole components. Trace routing may develop as a result of bigger pads.

More on the PCB Library

Altium library: One can get the documentation for the PCB footprints of the library online.

Eagle Arduino library: this library is linked with some SFE Eagle Library. It is a designer library.

Altium library download: This is an inadvertent accretion of models. One can download this library freely online.

Library Altium designer: This is a library for every PCB designer. One can get the right components for this library and use them quite appropriately.

Altium component library: Designers can use this library to improve their designing skill. It is crucial to add this footprint to one’s library.

Eagle Cad libraries: The Eagle Cad library is simple to use. It is one strong tool designers can use for their PCB designs.

PCB footprint library: One can design quicker using this library. This is as a result of the basics tools it has.

Autodesk eagle library: Be assured that it is not difficult to use this Library. It has been designed for every designer’s comfort. It is electronic software that designers use for PCB.

How to Make a PCB Library

A PCB library contains the component symbols and footprints needed to design schematics and layouts. With a robust, customizable library, engineers can rapidly populate their boards with all the necessary parts for fabrication and assembly.

This guide will walk through the typical contents of a PCB library, the tools for creating and managing libraries, best practices for generating components, and tips for organizing libraries for maximum efficiency. We’ll mainly focus on building libraries for use in Altium Designer, one of the leading PCB design platforms. The concepts translate broadly across various EDA tools. Let’s get started!

What’s in a PCB Library?

A PCB library contains packages representing real components that can be instantiated on the design canvas. These packages include:

Symbols – The schematic symbol graphics and connectivity representing a component’s functional model. Includes pins, gates, opamps, etc.

Footprints – The physical land patterns that will be fabricated on a PCB to mount and solder the component. Includes pads, thermal relief, 3D body.

Models – Optional 3D models allowing visualization of components on the board. STEP and other CAD formats.

Parameters – Attributes like reference designators, part numbers, ratings, and material properties.

Behaviors – Simulation behaviors models like IBIS for signal integrity.

Metadata – Manufacturing information like datasheets, suppliers, lifecycle status, etc.

These elements allow components to be fully defined and used through schematic capture, simulation, layout, and manufacturing. Now let’s look at constructing libraries.

Creating a Library in Altium Designer

Altium Designer provides advanced tools for constructing and managing component libraries. Here is an overview of the process:

Set up the Database

First, create a new blank component library database to store the packages. Give it a relevant name like “MyCompany_Standard_Library”.

Build Schematic Symbols

Next, design schematic symbols for each component needed. Use the Symbol Editor and follow best practices like:

  • Logical pin arrangement and naming
  • Standardized styles and aesthetics
  • Parameterization for scalable reuse
  • Clear graphical meaning

Create Footprints

Then design footprints to match chosen component packages using the Footprint Editor:

  • Follow manufacturer recommendations
  • Use standard pad shapes and naming
  • Add 3D body model if relevant
  • Parameterize dimensions where possible

Link Symbols to Footprints

Once created, link symbols and footprints together into unified components. This associates the schematic representation to the physical land pattern.

Configure Parameters

Enter relevant parameters for each component such as:

  • Manufacturer part numbers
  • Component type and ratings
  • Material properties
  • Datasheet links
  • Description and keywords

Add Metadata

Populate metadata fields to complete the component records:

  • Manufacturer information
  • Supplier links for procurement
  • Default variant descriptions
  • Life-cycle status and ratings
  • Cost information

The components are now ready to use in designs! Next we’ll look at strategies for effective library organization.

Organizing PCB Libraries

Careful organization of the library simplifies component lookup and reuse during projects. Some key tips include:

  • Group components into logical folders by type like “Microcontrollers”, “Passives”, “Power”, etc.
  • Use a consistent component naming scheme that encodes type, ratings, package, etc.
  • Keep component variations together with main record using lifecycle status to identify latest version
  • Cross-link related components that share symbols or footprints
  • Provide search keywords, tags, and aliases for easy lookups
  • Mark frequently used components as favorites
  • Utilize database tools for revision tracking and version control

With a well-structured library hierarchy and metadata, designers can rapidly locate components needed for their boards.

Library Best Practices

Some additional library creation best practices include:

  • Standardize – Use consistent naming, aesthetics, layout standards across components
  • Parameterize – Components should be customizable and overrideable, not fixed
  • Verify – Validate symbology, footprint accuracy, correctness of metadata
  • Reuse – Make use of existing trusted libraries before reinventing
  • Maintain – Keep library updated as components evolve over time
  • License – Consider using open-source or company standard libraries when possible for easier collaboration

Following these guidelines results in robust, quality libraries with maximum design efficiency.

Sharing and Synchronization

For team workflows, PCB library sharing and synchronization becomes important:

  • Use source control like Git to share a central library repository
  • Automate database backup processes for disaster recovery
  • Allow library requests and submissions from designers
  • Handle updates through automated versioning scripts
  • Give designers read-only access for snapshots to avoid collisions

Proper library lifecycle management ensures the entire team has access to up-to-date components.

Library Tools Comparison

While we’ve focused on Altium Designer, most PCB design tools include library utilities. Here is a brief comparison:

ToolLibrary FormatCapabilities
Altium DesignerDatabase fileAdvanced editing/management
Eagle CADXML filesLimited organization
KiCadMultiple file foldersScripted automation possible
OrCADBinary filesSimpler features
Solidworks PCBPack-and-go filesIntegration with 3D CAD models

The capabilities differ, but the core principles of effective component creation remain the same. Libraries integrate the real-world parts into virtual designs.


Creating, organizing, and sharing PCB component libraries is an essential foundation for executing successful printed circuit board projects. Carefully constructed libraries avoid reinventing the wheel for routine components while also providing the customization needed for specialized parts.

This guide explored typical PCB library contents, how to build libraries using Altium Designer as an example, strategies for effective organization and maintenance, and tools for collaboration. The library creation concepts translate across various EDA platforms.

With an investment in learning library skills, engineers can reap dividends through improved design efficiency and consistency. The effort to master component library best practices pays continuous rewards over the course of a PCB design career.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some online resources for open PCB libraries?

Some good sources of library content include Ultra Librarian, SnapEDA, SymbolHub, and GitHub repositories like KiCad-Libraries. These provide symbols, footprints, and models.

What’s the best way to learn PCB library creation?

The best approach is to examine manufacturer datasheets for sample components and practice recreating symbols and footprints. Matching published recommendations trains skills. Sourcing manufacturer models also helps with 3D consistency.

How can team library updates be handled smoothly?

Using source control, scripted database syncing, and read-only access, designers can leverage centralized libraries. Consistent library organization also aids team use. Access controls prevent conflicting edits.

When should custom footprints be created vs manufacturer pads?

For common components, manufacturer-recommended footprints are best to avoid reinventing. But for specialized cases like tight layouts or exposed-pad tuning, customized footprints may be warranted based on experience.

What are good strategies for library troubleshooting?

Keep symbols and footprints under version control for easy rollback and comparison. Parameterize to isolate issues. Use consistent naming and aesthetics. Follow datasheets closely. Validate outputs like netlists. Keep logs of issues and fixes.


PCB component libraries encapsulate real-world parts for use in EDA tools. Careful construction ensures symbols, footprints, and metadata align to component datasheet specifications. Organization, collaboration, and maintenance routines improve efficiency. With practice, electrical engineers can become adept at the art of professional PCB library creation to smooth their entire design workflow.




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