Is 3D Electronics Design keeping up with today’s Trends?

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For many years, the layout of a printed circuit board in 2D was sufficient for most mainstream technologies. Today, however, product developers in the electronics industry are facing new challenges, triggered by megatrends such as the Internet of Things. This requires different systems and technologies to communicate and interact with each other. Such connectivity of devices requires higher performance coupled with increasing system complexity.

These requirements demand comprehensive 3D electronic design and visualization functions in ECAD systems. The layout engineer gains a better overview of complex technologies, e.g. placing components in intermediate layers.

A true 3D ECAD system allows engineers to work in 2D or 3D as needed to precisely design with the latest technology and respond to market demands in high-pressure business cycles. So can today’s CAD tools deliver on these requirements and harness the power of new technologies?

3D ECAD/MCAD Collaboration

While the MCAD industry has always been thinking in three dimensions, the ECAD industry has long been 2-dimensional. At Zuken, the world was no longer flat as far back as 2001. Since then, we have constantly upgraded and improved our 3D PCB design solutions.

The way electrical and mechanical design converge leaves little room for error. That’s why Design Force includes powerful ECAD/MCAD collaboration features. These support the import of mechanical enclosure as a STEP file, the optimization of component placement based on mechanical constraints, and product validation with 3D collision and clearance checks.

Such checks for potential electromechanical collisions between components and PCBs of a multi-board design tend to be performed in the mechanical environment. However, shifting the check to the electrical environment during component placement can help shorten development cycles.

3D Electronics Design with Flex-Rigid Technologies

Rigid-Flex technology combines rigid and flexible PCBs into a single design. Flexible circuit boards were originally developed for aerospace applications to save weight and space. Today, they are very common because they save space and are also ideal for designing electronics into a complex package. CR-8000 Design Force supports this technology with either models or blocks acting as a fallback. Using the actual models instead of blocks have the considerable advantage of automated visual inspections for quality analysis.

3D electronics design in CR-8000 design force

Electronics from the 3D Printer

In addition to these well-established technologies, Zuken also supports innovative trends, such as printed circuit boards from the 3D printer. The 3D printer can produce changes without new molds or variants with batch size 1. Using 3-dimensional physical models from a rapid prototyping print, engineers can detect errors and inaccuracies faster and better, saving time and costs.

CR-8000 Design Force generates all required data for 3D printing and supports direct export to manufacturing with no loss of integrity.

Conclusion

By supporting established 3D technologies such as embedding, rigid-flex, semi-flex & flex design, chip-on-board, multi-board design among many others, combined with new technologies in a single PCB design suite, CR-8000 is not only keeping up with today’s trends but also paving the way for future generations of electronics. We have only scratched the surface of what is possible with CR-8000. For a more detailed description of the features, visit the product page or watch one of our on-demand webinars.

Martin Santen
Martin Santen
Manager eCAD, Technical Competence Center
Martin Santen is managing the eCAD team, responsible for service and project activities to establish Zuken solution for our customers. He is he helping customers with high-level technical discovery to improve their design development processes. He likes action sports like mountain biking, alpine skiing and competes in triathlons.