improve product development

Improve Your Product Development Process with 3D Product Visualization

Today I’m taking about ECAD/MCAD co-design.

You’ve probably heard the expression, “the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.” Unfortunately that is often the case during product development, when the ECAD PCB design team and the MCAD team are furiously working to meet ever-shrinking time-to-market requirements. After all, ECAD and MCAD are two completely separate disciplines with different areas of study and different areas of concern.

  • One focuses on electronics engineering, while the other focuses on mechanical engineering.
  • One is concerned with things like trace width, placement clearance, and maximum skew; while the other is concerned with things like display size, battery housing, and assembly.

However, in the end ECAD and MCAD must come together to develop a product that is robust and cost competitive. How is this possible when, along with all the aforementioned differences, each disciplines’ product development software always comes from different solution providers?

The traditional answer has always been “better collaboration,” yet there are limits to this solution especially given today’s complex multi-board products. Enter next generation software solutions that allow for 3D product visualization within the ECAD PCB design realm.

Fast fact: It is estimated that 50% of complex products require at least one additional PCB fabrication to address electro-mechanical issues.

Having problems visualizing your product in 3D?

Many corporations cite ECAD/MCAD design synchronization as a significant product design challenge. With current generation tools from separate solution providers, the co-design process involves tasks like exporting placement information for each PCB from the ECAD system to the MCAD system for assembly analysis. Or the PCB designer is required to use a non-native MCAD viewer to attempt to conduct his or her own analysis.

If you are having difficulty visualizing your product in 3D or if you are struggling to simultaneously manage your ECAD and MCAD data, you need to take a look at the latest ECAD product visualization solutions. The availability of 3D product visualization software within the ECAD PCB design realm is allowing design teams to move co-design tasks like interference studies and collision checking, upstream. Real time electro-mechanical co-design in the ECAD realm introduces functionality that allows for:

  • The import and viewing of the mechanical enclosure data, including the underlying mechanical model hierarchy, in 3D.
  • The ability to align the MCAD enclosure with the ECAD PCB(s).
  • For multi-board products, the ability to manage the multiple PCBs that make up the product concurrently in 3D.
  • Interactive 3D PCB(s) for enclosure analysis and collision checking.
  • 3D object to object clearance checking for traces, components, board(s) and enclosure.

ECAD/MCAD co-design in 3D can break down the traditional separation between disciplines. These next generation ECAD tools manage your design as a product rather than separate PCB(s) with an separate enclosure, and ECAD/MCAD clearance checking and interference analysis is no longer a one-time post-design event, but rather a continual in-process methodology. In essence, true ECAD/MCAD co-design in 3D will ensure reduced time to market, improve overall product quality, and help make your innovative ideas a reality.

Interested in learning more about one potential solution?

If the answer is ‘yes’, then check out the on-demand version of Zuken’s “Avoid PCB & enclosure collisions with 3D product visualization” webinar that I presented recently.

With today’s next-generation solutions the left hand knows perfectly well what the right hand is doing!

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