PCB West Coffee

Are PCB Designers Ready for a Change?


PCB West is an event we look forward to all year. It gives our team a chance to get face to face with the design and manufacturing community to showcase our exciting technology. It also gives us a chance to have some fun and gather feedback from attendees. We left this year asking ourselves, “Are PCB designers ready for a change?”.

As we’ve done for several years now, we hosted a barista cart in the exhibition area. The big buzz – in addition to the caffeine – was that attendees could print their selfies right onto their lattes!

What?? Of course, we did ask them to complete a short survey first, and the results were pretty intriguing. Let’s take a look:

A change is brewing

For the last four years running, “cream and sugar” is the way most prefer their coffee, and this year is no different, even showing a modest increase. The “sugar only” choice saw a bump as did the straight-up “black coffee” option. That may be a result of coffee drinkers embracing their sweet side, or it may be a one-time fluke. Either way, it seems there’s a change brewing.

coffee survey

3D design productivity

Of course, we asked a few more questions in the survey, and here’s where it gets interesting. 86% of respondents feel that a 3D design tool is more productive than a 2D tool. We expected that one. Last year, 85% of the respondents said they had designed a board in 3D at least once, and they’re not looking back. With improved visualization and the opportunity for ECAD/MCAD co-design, what’s not to like?

Is 3D more productive than 2D

Downloading Internet parts

When asked if they would download library parts from the web, a whopping 73% said yes. That’s just slightly higher than last year’s 70% who said they had downloaded parts already. With companies like Ultra Librarian, Symacsys, TE Connectivity, and Digi-Key offering downloads, it’s becoming easier all the time, and many of the parts are free.

download library parts

Concurrent design

We went on to ask attendees if concurrent design is important, and 86% responded yes. Going it alone seems to be a fading trend. With the ever-increasing product complexity, design silos are being replaced with collaborative design processes. The concurrent PCB design is just one example of collaboration that can partition the board for faster completion or for specific design technologies like RF or DDR5. If your tools don’t offer concurrent design, it may be time for a change.

Concurrent PCB design

Ready for change

Perhaps the most interesting statistic from the survey was that 63% indicated they’d consider changing PCB design tools. Given that switching isn’t easy, that’s a big number. What’s compelling this willingness to change? Perhaps it’s a need for 3D design capabilities, or the desire to increase ease of use with the ability to download parts from within the design tool. Or maybe it’s the need to incorporate concurrent design to facilitate a more collaborative design process. Whatever the reasons, it’s clear that PCB designers are ready for a change – and not just in their coffee orders!

PCB design tools

If you stopped by our booth at PCB West then you had a chance to see eCADSTAR, a new internet-connected PCB design platform. Learn more about this new tool and sign up for a free 30-day evaluation on our website. It may be just the change you’re looking for!

The PCB West team delivered another exceptional conference and we’re looking forward to returning again in 2020. Follow the Zuken Coffee floor stickers to find us, grab your free cup of coffee and #gettoknowzuken!

Try eCADSTAR Now! 

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Amy Clements
Amy Clements
Director of Marketing Communications
Amy is the Director of Marketing Communications in North America. Her role includes advertising, public relations, event management, social media, and more. She thrives on managing complex projects, especially when there is an opportunity to interact with customers. In her spare time, she and her family enjoy traveling.