The Printed Circuit Board design tools are basically software which are used for the layout creation. Such software is utilized for the automation of various tasks were performed by EDE previously in manual manner over the time-period of designing an electrical circuit. Abundant tools are available which have excellent features and options for designing printed circuit boards. For those who are beginners in the field of printed circuit board designing, it may be a challenge to decide about the use of a specific software. Therefore, for making it easy for you to decide, this article is focusing on the various software tools which are used for the design of printed circuit boards. This article is enlisting a total of 10 software tools which are readily available in market today and are handy to use. RayPCB is recommending you to go with using free or trial-based software tool first and then go for extended or paid versions of the software. The only difference among free/trial and extended/paid versions is difference of feature. The free versions have lesser features while paid versions have extended features.
Here is the list of top 10 readily available software tools for designing PCBs.
KiCAD is an open software and has numerous features for its users such as output for Gerber Files, layout design of PCB, and schematic design etc. This software tool is more powerful than ordinary software and it has been designed in a way to achieve multitasking which is needed by an engineer for automation of design. This software is powerful enough to handle up to 32 layered PCB layout and has a 3-dimensional viewer as well for reviewing the designs with rotation along with capabilities of pan inspection. This software tool is most used and well rated design tool. This PCB design tool is supported by OS X, Linux, and Windows.
2. DesignSpark PCB:
The DesignSpark is also one of the popular PCB design tools which is very easy to learn. It has features such as layout and schematic design of printed circuit boards. This software is used by a broad spectrum of users starting from beginners, students, and professionals. This tool is entirely free and has a 3D viewer as well for visualizing layouts in real time. This software tool can only be used through Windows.
3. Express SCH and ExpressPCB Plus:
This is a very popular PCB design tool which is very easy to install. The process of its learning is very easy and it is also very easy to use. This software is capable of handling PCBs up to 4 layers. This tool is best when it comes to prototyping in rapid action. The community library of this software is very large and almost all components are available in it for creation of schematics and layout design. This software works in windows environment only.
4. Osmond PCB:
Osmond PCB is a dedicated OSX software tool and can run on Mac computers only. This tool has best spatial resolution of about 10 nanometers. Through this software tool, you can make designs of almost any size and shape. You can make multi layered PCBs through it and its use is also very easy. The editing tools of this software are handy in making layout design better and attractive. Free version has limited features while full version will cost you $79.
5. Zenit PCB:
This software tool is very handy and easy to use. Schematics and layouts can be created in a quick fashion through it. This software is basically for beginners and students who don’t need advanced features. This tool doesn’t have an auto-router which makes it tough to convert schematics in to layout. However, ZenitCapture is an extended version available with all features and it has design limitation up to 1000 pins only. This software can be run through Windows platform.
This is an open source PCB design software which has both schematics and layout designer. However, this software also doesn’t have an auto-tracer or auto-router, but it can make use of an extension if downloaded known as “FreeRoute” which is an auto-router based on web. However, source code of this web-based auto-router is copyrighted. This software tool was released by famous GNU general public license. The software can be used by windows users only.
This is a unique software tool which is supported by a web-based community and is mostly used for teaching electronics circuitry. This aim of this software tool is to create a very creative platform for users where they can learn electronics and make layouts of printed circuit boards. This tool is very useful for beginners and students. User can use this software through many operating systems such as OSC, windows, and Linux.
This is one of the basic software tools for making electronic schematics and its PCB layouts. This software is supported by extended versions of libraries for facilitating its users for PCB layout creations. One of the best features of this software is that it can be used front end to various other PCB layout software. There is an option for checking flaws in the PCB layout. This tool is opensource and can be used and accessed through Windows operating system only.
gEDA is a complete Electronic Design Automation software which is running on Linux operating systems only. This is entirely free and has capability of performing schematics, BOM list creation, attribute management, digital and analog simulation along with PCB layout creation.
You may not have heard of this software tool which is designed for windows environment only. This software tool is used for both schematics and layout design. The BSch in its name stands for basic schematics. This software is basically 3rd generation of the Suigyodo’s schematics software. This software has a limitation that it cannot handle complex designs having multi-layers. There are different versions of this software, out of which few are free and some are paid.