Sleek enclosures with tight curves are all the rage for new electronics. Intricate enclosures need precise mechanical designs, which are best provided by professional CAM engineers. Anyone that has worked on a diverse design team at a board house or a prominent electronics company knows how important mechanical design is for usability and user experience.
Multifunctional electronics design teams often include an MCAD engineer, but they are often siloed in their own software programs. Board houses will go a step further and include a CAM engineer to help get a new design into production. When your design software includes MCAD design features, your MCAD and CAM engineers can design beautiful enclosures for your new products, but the PCB designs they work with need the right MCAD models. An MCAD parts search service can help your team find the 3D models they need for electronic components.
ECAD vs. MCAD Parts Search: It’s not a Competition!
If you look at a typical PCB layout, then you’ll see that everything is in 2D. PCB footprints only show pad/hole sizes, location of any die-attached ground pads, component outlines and courtyards, and any portion of a component that might hang over a pad. With everything being in 2D, it’s easy to layout components and traces on a planar board. Getting your design across the finish line, especially if you have a unique enclosure, means looking at your design in 3D.
Here’s where the MCAD and CAM engineers need to take over. Often you might have a 3D enclosure rendering that you are then responsible for creating a layout from. CAM engineers sometimes play the same role as an MCAD designer, or they are responsible for making sure an enclosure will be manufacturable. Both groups need access to MCAD models for components to ensure an enclosure will meet tight mechanical clearances and functionality.
MCAD and ECAD design occur in different applications, but they both rely on a common set of models. Getting the mechanical portion of a design to work properly requires 3D CAD models for your electrical and mechanical components.
Thankfully, ECAD and MCAD designers can access a complete package of 2D footprints and 3D component models with an MCAD parts search service. Not all services will provide a complete set of data, so you should make sure you’re getting a complete set of component information and models for use in your CAD programs.
What You Need in MCAD Models and Component Data
When you’re considering using an MCAD parts search utility or service, you need to make sure you can access all the following information.
MCAD Models in Vendor-Neutral File Formats
MCAD models for electronic components should come in vendor-neutral file formats. Your MCAD parts search engine should give you access to 2D and 3D component models directly from manufacturers, so you’ll know these models are correct. 2D and 3D component models need to match and be properly oriented. Thankfully, Ultra Librarian 3D models are dynamically created based on footprint input, so these will always match in our platform.
It helps if these models are offered in multiple file formats (STEP, DXF, Parasolid, etc.) so you can have plenty of freedom to import the 3D models into your preferred ECAD and MCAD software.
This focus on vendor neutrality in MCAD design is pretty important for electronics designers. An electronics designer will be able to see 3D component models in an ECAD application, and an MCAD designer will need to see the same data in their MCAD application. There should be no need to switch between file formats when moving to the MCAD tools, they need to be able to read the same 3D component models used in your ECAD software.
Vendor-Specific Symbols and Footprints
You’ll need schematic symbols and footprints for your components, and these data will need to be provided in your ECAD software’s file format. Some of the higher-end applications have conversion utilities, which allow you to convert between specific file formats.
Imagine you find your ECAD/MCAD models, bring them into your design, finish your layout and enclosure, and you’re ready to manufacture, only to find that your desired components are sold-out or obsolete. If your parts search engine includes sourcing information, you’ll be able to see immediately whether you need to find a substitute component. You shouldn’t need to browse distributor websites to get this information.
ECAD and MCAD Data in a Single Package
If you head to the web and start searching through forums and parts aggregators, you’ll likely find generic MCAD models on one site, while you might find symbols or footprints on another site. The best MCAD parts search tools for electronics will also give you symbols and footprints in a single location. There should be no need to aggregate your own component data across multiple sites, or adapt generic 2D or 3D models into a new component library.
Where to Get Your MCAD Models for Electronics
Who wants to spend all their time creating 3D CAD models for electronic components from datasheets? CAM engineers working on electronics design teams should do what they do best: create cool enclosures that are accurate and form-fitting. To get the job done quickly, design teams need quick access to verified 3D component models, which can then be instantly imported in their favorite ECAD applications. CAM engineers can then use exported STEP models for boards or MCAD collaboration features to start designing enclosures.
Don’t waste time creating parts from datasheets or paying a component creation service for component data. You can access MCAD parts search tools for free when you use a parts aggregator service like Ultra Librarian. You’ll have access to a range of 2D and 3D ECAD and MCAD models from major manufacturers and you’ll see real-time sourcing information from worldwide distributors. All models are compatible with popular ECAD applications and can be instantly imported into your new designs.
Footprint and 3D electronic component model creation takes dedicated resources and time, but Ultra Librarian helps streamline these processes. Working with Ultra Librarian will set up your team for success and ensure your finished product matches your design. Register today for free.