A new web-based software tool aims to give engineers a fast, intuitive way to design circuit-protection systems for their electronic products.
Known as iDesign, the tool walks users through the fuse selection process and helps them narrow the available options for their circuit boards. Littlefuse Inc., developer of the tool, says it created iDesign to remove the burden that often accompanies the design and selection of fuses. “Engineers have a lot to do,” Bharat Shenoy, director of technical marketing for Littelfuse’s Electronics Business Unit, told Design News. “If someone can help them get to the right starting point, without having to spend time going over data sheets and websites, then that’s a win for them.”
The free iDesign tool is aimed at applications using electronic, board-mounted fuses. In such applications, circuit protection is becoming increasingly important because the devices often operate at low voltages, making them susceptible to over-current and over-voltage conditions. Even everyday products such as running shoes, hosiery, and nylon shirts can generate enough electrostatic discharge to zap handheld devices, laptop computers, and cellphones, experts say.
iDesign helps engineers head off such problems by providing a way to identify the best component for the application, find parts documentation, and order sample parts for prototyping. The tool assumes little prior knowledge of circuit protection and is based on Littlefuse’s application calculations and product datasheets. It is said to be the first web-based tool to offer such capabilities.
Over the past few years, Littelfuse has made an effort to encourage engineers to consider circuit protection earlier in the product design cycle. Leaving such issues to the last minute often results in situations where engineers can’t find room for fuses on their circuit boards. As a result, they end up re-spinning the boards and losing valuable development time. Worse, they sometimes hurriedly choose the wrong protection devices, resulting in functional failures, the company has said.
By simplifying the process and encouraging it earlier in the design cycle, Littelfuse hopes to head off such problems. “The main goal of this tool is to remove the burden of fuse selection from the board design engineer,” Shenoy said.