Lately, there are plenty of software packages that are available for printed circuit board designers to use; looking around. They are too many. But out of them all, which among them suits your application better? While these software packages seem to be increasing on almost a daily basis, a lot of PCB designers seem to prefer using KiCad. But why, you may ask. Among other features that accompany KiCad, a lot of designers prefer it based on its usability, price, and compatibility, to mention but a few. In this article, we will discuss eight reasons as to why KiCad is the best software package for PCB designers to use.
1、What is KiCad?
KiCad is a software meant for electronic design automation. It facilitates not only the design of schematics intended for electronic circuits but also their transformation to PCB designs. KiCad made its debut to PCB world way back in 1992, and since then it has become a vital choice for PCB designers. Once perceived as barely usable and clunky, KiCad is now a reliable and dependable software package.
Currently, KiCad is a highly active software package with a growing community of contributors and users. The community is very active in making contributions meant to cover the costs of development. That’s not all. KiCad’s project gets support in several other ways from contributors who help in assisting others to learn, writing codes, and shared libraries. In the last five years, interest in KiCad has increased immensely. So, why choose to use KiCad as opposed to other PCB design software packages. Here is why.
1.1 KiCad is Open Source and Free
Volunteers did create KiCad, meaning that it is open-source and free. Being open-source is somewhat essential since a lot of PCB designers spend a lot of time coming up with new and complicated boards. By nature, open-source means that the applications code base is readily available for anybody to download and subsequently make a compilation on their computers whether IOS, Windows, or Ubuntu. Without even making a single payment, you can download KiCad’s source code and if you so wish, modify it depending on your likings. Open-source is beneficial, especially to learners and hobbyists who want to learn more on PCB design.
Image 1: A screenshot of the KiCad Homepage
1.2 KiCad is Unlimited
Unlike other PCB design software packages out there that are limited, KiCad is not limited. With KiCad, you won’t find yourself having to choose between “platinum,” “standard,” and “premium” packages. It is just a quick download, and you begin your project. Even though there are plenty of free PCB tools, you’ll notice that there are on aspects such as the layers or how big a PCB should be among others. But once again, KiCad is unlimited and can save you such challenges.
1.3 KiCad is Feature-Rich
KiCad is one of those feature-rich software packages. Impressive features such as differential routing, length matching, and interactive routing make KiCad stand out from the rest. Even though you may not need to use some features now, they’ll find applicability some other time. For example, a feature such as an autoroute is one of them. Python scripts, a feature that enables one to automate extended capabilities and workflows is also another one. You can add some of these features using third-party suppliers. With all these features, you can come up with a printed circuit board that suits all your needs without having to outsource other tasks.
Image 2: An image of the KiCad software with all the images for PCB design
1.4 Excellent Workflow
KiCad’s impressive separation of the layout and schematic is a bonus both to learning and subsequently using it. Printed circuit board designers using other software packages often encounter challenges in terms of workflow, but not with KiCad. Layout design and schematic design are two different things, and one can use them independently. You can come up with schematic diagrams for projects that you have got no intention of converting them to PCBs. You can also come up with several versions of a board by using the same schematic. Among other things, role separation is an aspect that makes both scenarios super easy, and KiCad does well here.
1.5 Industry-Standard and Compatible
With KiCad software, one can make his or her boards from literally anywhere. You can upload your project to an online fabricator able to accept Gerber files. You can also upload your project to fabricators that can accommodate KiCad layout files, or make them from the comfort of your home. In terms of compatibility, KiCad works almost anywhere. Regardless of whether you a Linux, Mac, or Windows person, you can go ahead and use KiCad easily. Additionally, with the inception of KiCad 5, an aspect such as interoperability has turned out to be better than before.
1.6 3D Viewer
One of KiCad’s greatest secret is that the building of its design process in 3D. The moment you are done designing your board and want to view it in 3D, you can press Alt-3, and the design appears in 3D. Again, this is a significant plus regarding KiCad software. The ability to view your board in 3D is instrumental. Seeing the board in 3D makes it easier to identify mistakes and improve them. Still, 3D helps in understanding important aspects such as the space and size of the board. Without going round in circles, KiCad comes on top based on its integrated 3D feature.
Image 3: An image of the 3D feature of the KiCad software
1.7 Continuous Improvement
A majority of printed circuit board software packages that are out there in the market do not have now versions in place. Plenty of them do not undertake continuous improvement and lack some of the latest features. However, this is not the case with KiCad software. If you are keen enough, then you will realize that KiCad is continually improving and consisting of new features. With continuous improvement, those using KiCad stand to benefit from improved quality and increased productivity. Improved quality and increased productivity benefit firms as it brings about increased revenue generation and customer satisfaction.
1.8 Ease of Use
Regardless of whether you are an educationist, hobbyist, or an investor, you would want to work with PCB design software that is easy to use. In short, KiCad software is one of the most accessible software to use when designing printed circuit boards. This software, unlike others out there, promises outstanding user experience. It consists of an excellent graphical user interface and ease of access to PCB designers using it. You’ll be surprised at how polished and attractive KiCad looks and feels. Everything is nicely done, with all the instructions labeled clearly. With KiCad, your layout and routing task is made easy.
2、Why Choose OurPCB?
KiCad is a highly sought-after software package that plenty of PCB designers currently use. As mentioned way earlier, KiCad such as ease of download and use, its unlimited and rich-feature elements make KiCad the number one choice for many. But if you need an experienced, reliable, and high-quality PCB design, look no further than OurPCB. OurPCB has a team of professionals who understand everything to do with designing PCBs using KiCad software package.
The application of ident layers during the process PCB color and manufacturing is referred to the method of silk screening. So what PCB silk screen is? Silk screening is used as components for identifying their testing points, PCBA part numbers, company information, manufacturer notes and so on. You can also define silk screening as the process of writing human-readable text-based information on the printed circuit board.
The process of silk screening requires the implementation of formulated conductive inks. Then standard colors that are typically used for silk screening method include yellow, white and black. It is to be noted that you can request for non – standard colors for the process, but they will cost you much time, money and energy.
Another thing which is very important and requires to be considered during the process of silk screening is font selection. There was a time when the only software used was for fonts was PCB CAD but now there is a wide range of options available. Ensure that you are selecting the font which is easily understood by the readers. Some fonts may seem exciting but are hard to be recognized and give problems in reading.