The Difference between ECAD and MCAD


Electronics and mechanics are two of the most important areas of modern engineering. ECAD and MCAD are the two tools available for the virtual design of electronic and mechanical systems in products. The integration of these two systems is essential for the advanced development of electromechanical products.

What is ECAD?

ECAD stands for Electronic Computer-Aided Design. It is software for the design of electronic systems. ECAD software is used to design printed circuit boards (PCBs), integrated circuits (ICs), and other electronic components. It also includes specialized software that covers all areas of electrical and hydraulic engineering. ECAD software allows designers to create schematics, simulate designs, and generate output files for manufacturing.

The main features of ECAD software are:

  1. Schematic capture: ECAD software allows designers to create schematics using symbols and connections.
  2. Component libraries: Access to a database of electronic components that can be used for design.
  3. simulation and analysis: Simulation tools to understand circuit behavior.
  4. Visualization: 3D visualization tools help with design validation.

What is MCAD?

MCAD is the acronym for Mechanical Computer-Aided Design and is used to design mechanical components, enclosures, machines, and systems. MCAD software allows designers to create 3D models, simulate designs and generate output files for manufacturing.

The main features of MCAD software are:

  1. 3D modeling: MCAD software allows designers to create 3D models of mechanical components.
  2. Simulation: MCAD software enables designers to simulate the behavior of the mechanical system using software tools.
  3. Assembly modeling: Designers can create assemblies of mechanical components.
  4. Manufacturing documentation: MCAD software is used to create output files for manufacturing.

The Differences Between ECAD and MCAD

  1. Design focus: ECAD software is used to design electronic systems, while MCAD software is used to design mechanical systems.
  2. Components: ECAD software uses electronic components, while MCAD software uses mechanical components.
  3. Design tools: ECAD software includes tools and functions for circuit design, simulation, and layout, while MCAD software includes tools for 3D modeling, simulation, and assembly modeling.
  4. Output files: The output files are each specially adapted to printed circuit boards, wire harnesses, control cabinets, fluid systems, etc.

ECAD MCAD Integration

In today’s high-tech world, the integration of electrical and mechanical design systems (ECAD-MCAD) is becoming increasingly important. Collaboration between ECAD and MCAD has become necessary in product development to verify that a mechatronic product’s electrical and mechanical elements will work together.

The integration of ECAD and MCAD brings together the best of both worlds, enabling engineers to complete tasks faster and more accurately. By combining these two disciplines, designers can create complex parts with fewer errors and greater accuracy. This reduces the time spent on the design process and the costs associated with errors and rework.

ECAD-MCAD integration also allows engineers to automate certain tasks such as part placement, routing and assembly. This automation can help increase productivity and reduce labor costs. In addition, automated processes can help ensure designs meet all required standards and regulations.

But the key benefit of ECAD-MCAD integration is improving communication between design teams. By connecting electrical and mechanical design systems, engineers can quickly share information between departments. This helps avoid confusion and delays caused by separate systems for each discipline.

Although ECAD and MCAD software share some similarities, the tools differ significantly in terms of design focus, components, design capabilities, and output files. Seamless integration between the two solutions and automated data exchange simplify the design process without sacrificing specialized tools for electronics or mechanics.

The right ECAD Software for a streamlined workflow

Zuken offers best-in-class ECAD Software for PCB design and for Wire harnesses, Control cabinets, and fluid system design that integrates seamlessly with MCAD and PDM/PLM systems.

E3.series is the ECAD solution for the design of wire harnesses, Control cabinets, and fluid systems. The design platform enables the creation of a digital twin by seamlessly synchronizing data between ECAD, MCAD, and other enterprise IT systems. The versatile workflow in E3.series helps design teams work independently or collaboratively to meet project requirements. Electrical engineers can collaborate with mechanical design through a bidirectional interface between MCAD and ECAD. Flattening options simplify the use of a 3D harness model to create formboard drawings for manufacturing.

CR-8000 for PCB design spans the entire PCB engineering lifecycle from architecture planning through system-level engineering and optimization to physical implementation and manufacturing. CR-8000 is the only PCB design environment complemented by data management capabilities, providing comprehensive library, module, configuration, and release management.

Lilli Schuetze
Lilli Schuetze
Content Marketing Manager