Electronic Parts Search, or EPS: Engineering at the Speed of Innovation

Electronic parts search image
Keep your component libraries current with electronic parts search tools.

Symbols, footprints, and models can be difficult to find, but they are part of the foundation of any new electronic product. These important pieces of information need to be accurate representations of a component and need to be usable by your CAD software.

It can be difficult to find correct component data and I’ve seen projects get completely re-engineered simply because component models could not be located, or because verified distributors could not be located.

How can design teams overcome this problem without manually creating models from datasheets? I’ve never met a PCB designer that wants to spend days on end building 3D models from components or browsing distributor websites for sourcing information. Instead, designers should use an electronic parts search service to find verified component data. This lets designers do what they do best: create cutting-edge PCB designs!

Where You’ll Find Electronic Component Data

Since component data is so important for PCB design, manufacturing, and assembly, you’ll need some resources to locate data for your components. You’ll need to quickly download and import this data into your design software so you can build your PCB layout and plan for manufacturing.

In Your PCB Design Software

Budget PCB design applications will only let you search your existing libraries for component models. If you have an existing part that has the same 2D and 3D form factor as your new part, you can easily create a new component from the existing component. Even budget design applications have parts creation tools, which let you manually create a new component from a datasheet or an existing footprint.

The industry’s best PCB design tools will include electronic parts search features that take data from a proprietary repository or distributor websites. Some of these features include sourcing data alongside component symbols and footprints. These features are built into the software and they give you access to a range of components with common packages. Unfortunately, models for newer components or specialty components may not be available, and you’ll have to find your component data on your own.

Electronic parts search request in CAD software
The best CAD software includes electronic parts search features.

Component Distributor Websites

You would naturally expect component distributors to provide CAD models alongside actual components, but this is not always the case. Component distributor websites only show you their own pricing and availability data, and they only show you the parts they are authorized to distribute.

Distributors may not offer CAD models for every component they sell, leaving you to find component data elsewhere. If you end up finding component data on distributor websites, there’s no guarantee it’s supplied in the format required for your CAD application. You’ll need to convert it to your required file format, rebuild the component from scratch, or you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Forums and Community Parts Websites

Every so often, you’ll get lucky when looking on forums and someone will post component models for the part you need. This is rare and you won’t always find a PCB footprint, schematic symbol, and 3D model in the same place. Some community parts websites provide many more electrical and mechanical component models, but you still have the same problem; it’s hard to find all the data you need in one place.

Dedicated Electronic Parts Search Engines

A dedicated electronic parts search engine aggregates data directly from component manufacturers and distributors (both authorized and unauthorized). This data often does not appear in standard search engine results or it is hidden behind ads. An electronic parts search engine can give you instant access to CAD models and sourcing data while allowing you to compare multiple parts in a single window.

What to Look for in Electronic Parts Search Results

If you’re using an electronic parts search engine, you’re probably on the hunt for component models, sourcing data, or both. The best search services provide, at minimum, the following pieces of information:

  • Manufacturer’s part number (MPN): If you need to find more information on a component, you can take the MPN and search it on the web.
  • Price: Obviously, price comparisons are important if you want to stay within your budget.
  • Datasheet access: It’s always nice to be able to access a component datasheet without an additional web search.
  • Electrical specifications: When you can see electrical specs directly in search results, you can quickly identify candidate alternative components.
  • Environmental compliance: Some applications require Pb-free and RoHS-compliant components and you’ll need to see this compliance in your electronic parts search results.
  • Model availability: If you’re looking for models, there shouldn’t be any need to open up each search result to check for available component models. Your productivity stays high when you can see model availability directly on a search results page.
Electronic parts search engine online
The best electronic parts search websites will show you pricing and model availability directly in the search results.

When you use a free electronic parts search website like Ultra Librarian, you’ll have instant access to component models and sourcing data. All this data is provided by major component manufacturers and worldwide distributors. You can then import your component models directly into your component libraries in popular ECAD applications. Rather than manually searching manufacturer websites for your component data or buying a subscription to a 3rd-party service, you can access data on millions of verified components for free.

Work with Ultra Librarian to ensure your design and production team no longer needs to waste time creating potentially inaccurate models or redesigning boards after parameters didn’t align. Register today for free.

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The Ultra Librarian Team

Ultra Librarian offers the world’s largest PCB CAD library, putting cutting-edge materials at your fingertips so you can build better products faster—all for free.

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