Altium today announced Altium 365, a cloud-based design platform intended to bring manufacturing and sourcing into a hardware design environment.

Today, Altium announced Altium 365, a cloud-based design environment that aims to take engineers along the complete design path from schematic capture to board assembly. The software connects board manufacturers and parts distributors with users early in the design process with the intention of removing as many iterative design steps as possible.

 

The Lofty Goal of Eliminating Respins

As explained by Altium's COO Ted Pawela, the platform was created with an eye towards collaboration: "Altium 365 takes Altium Designer from the desktop to multi-device, multi-platform, and multi-operating system. It actually takes a design and puts it in the hands of everybody that is involved in the process of going from idea to a realized product (mechanical, purchasing, manufacturing, etc…)."

 

Design screenshot used courtesy of Altium. Click to enlarge.

 

This collaborative focus changes the traditional way team members share information between them. "They won’t see it in the way they do today—through Gerber files, Excel spreadsheets, and flat images—but actually with a real 3D viewer they can use to interact with the design, mark up and comment."

This is also meant to help designers make decisions in regards to manufacturability, including the BOM and what manufacturers, themselves, are capable of in their facilities.

Each manufacturer provides Altium 365 a description of their capabilities—minimum trace and space, impedance control, microvia capabilities, etc.—in much the same way a printer device driver informs an operating system of its capabilities. Engineers can then create their design within the confines of the manufacturer's specifications. At the same time, parts used in the design are checked for availability and cost against a live bill-of-materials index, ensuring almost real-time supply availability analysis.

 

BOM screenshot used courtesy of Altium. Click to enlarge.

 

Fabrication houses and PCB designers are able to communicate in real-time about potential design and fabrication issues via a web-browser. The browser is able to provide a 3D render of the PCB for integration with mechanical teams. And, since the software is web-based and hosted on Amazon Web Services, it will theoretically be instantly scalable from the single-user to whole-company use.

To counter the possible drawbacks of cloud-based programs, Altium’s team intends to provide daily backups and maintain security standards.

"The end game for this is that we can connect designs directly to the manufacturing floor," the company said. "The goal is that as you make decisions in your design, you can see which manufacturers can do that and which ones can’t, and why… eliminating respins."

 

"A First Step to Transform the Electronics Industry"

“This is an important—but only first—step towards delivering on our vision for helping to transform the electronics industry,” said Pawela. “Altium 365 will ultimately provide direct, real-time connectivity between design, supply chain, and the people and equipment on the manufacturing floor to achieve this.”

 

Design screenshot used courtesy of Altium. Click to enlarge.

 

These services include design-to-manufacturing collaboration, live component supply chain information, library management, and ECAD/MCAD co-design. Altium 365 also provides Altium customers a simplified means of managing their Altium product licenses, subscriptions, and users.

 


 

Altium 365 is the latest offering in the Altium ecosystem. It is a subscription-based service that will be available for free to users with a subscription to Altium Designer, in which Altium 365 can be integrated, or it can be purchased separately and accessed via a web browser.

The anticipated initial release date for the program is December 2018.

 

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