If you’re a designer, then you know how irritating it can be to find component information quickly and easily. I’ve often selected a part for a new design and started drawing up schematics, only to realize the part was obsolete, had gone NRND, or was out of stock. With many hours of design time already wasted, Iwe needed to quickly find replacements that were in production and sourceable at scale.
An E-parts finder can be a lifesaver in these types of situations, but this type of online system is best used during sourcing. If you can identify lifecycle status, distributor stocks, and suitable replacements earlier in the design phase, you won’t get to a situation where a schematic is drawn up with unsourceable components. There are two strategies you should use when using distributor websites or an E-parts finder for sourcing and component selection.
Speeding Up Component Selection with Search Engines
Distributor websites, manufacturer websites, and even Google give you plenty of tools to search through the huge number of components available on the market. There are two common search strategies most people will use to narrow down to a small number of components: application-based searches and specification-based searches. This should be combined with a component type (e.g., LDO regulator) in the search query.
ECAD software with integrated search features will provide the same type of functionality, but you’ll get access to a broader range of components beyond those in your ECAD vendor’s libraries.
Specification-based Component Search
Great distributor websites will help you master this type of search as they often provide filtering features. These filters are based on all sorts of specs, ranging from supply voltage to footprint. They can also be used to filter down to in-production vs. obsolete components, or to SMD vs. through-hole components.
Even if your search engine or distributor website doesn’t include filtration features, you can still search specifications as the most important specs are almost always listed directly in the component description. Searching something as basic as supply voltage or signalling standard is a great way to quickly narrow down to components that will meet your important specifications.
Application-based Component Search
This is as simple as searching for a specific application for a component (e.g., data acquisition). These types of searches yield a broader range of candidate components, both in terms of types of components and specifications. In other words, this search is a good idea if you are unsure of the type of component you need for a specific application, or if your specifications are flexible. A component that includes the relevant keyword in the description is most likely to show up at the top of the search results.
Distributor websites are great for both types of searches as they will search through their entire stocks and quickly return the data you need. You’ll also be able to see stocks, lifecycle status, component models, and even possible replacements on the best distributor websites. Although these websites are great for narrowing down to particular components, not all distributors are authorized to sell the components that might be best for your board, and searching through multiple websites is time-consuming. Here’s why an E-parts finder can be a great option for quickly finding and comparing multiple components.
What is an E-parts Finder?
Just as its name implies, an E-parts finder is a search engine that helps you find the electronic components you need for a new design. The searching strategies shown above can be used on the best electronics search engines, and you’ll be able to see important component information in a sleek interface.
A great E-parts finder will show you some of the following information:
- Specifications. Supply voltages, signalling standards, power consumption, and footprints should be visible in search results.
- Availability and price. Your E-parts finder should show you whether a distributor has a component in stock and a price estimate. Once you open up a search result, you should be able to see more detailed sourcing information from multiple distributors.
- Pb-free and RoHS compliance. Some devices will require Pb-free and RoHS compliant components, and you should be able to see compliance directly in search results.
- Manufacturers. If you’re a fan of specific manufacturers, then you’ll want to see a manufacturer or brand name in the search results.
- Availability of CAD models. It always helps to see when CAD models are available for a desired component. You should be able to see availability of schematic symbols, PCB footprints, and 3D models.
When you can see availability of CAD models, including 3D models, you know you’ll save yourself time creating footprints and schematic symbols in your PCB design software. Given two components with identical specifications and availability, it’s common to opt for the component with available CAD models as this cuts down design time. This is definitely preferable to creating your own component footprints and models as you’ll avoid some common library mistakes.
Next time you need to quickly find new parts to match your desired specifications, try using a free E-parts finder like Ultra Librarian. You’ll have access to a huge range of electrical and mechanical components from major manufacturers, and you’ll see real-time sourcing information aggregated from worldwide distributors. You can also quickly see if CAD models are available, which you can then import into popular ECAD applications to use in 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!