Good article and very insightful comments by Jim T.
I just wanted to let you know that Simplified Solutions Inc. (www.simplifiedsolutionsinc.com) has a new product "IDF-to-3D" that can be used to create 3D PCB Assemblies in 1-2 hours. The tool is compatible with all ECAD tools that export IDF files in IDF 2.0 and 3.0 format.
The tool imports the user's IDF files into a viewer, allows the user to search/browse a 3D component library for replacement 3D models for each PCB component, and generates a 3D PDF file of the 3D PCB Assembly for free. When satisfied with the 3D PCB, a STEP file of the 3D PCB Assembly can be purchased.
So what does this mean in real life? We have been using the IDF 3.0 standard for Mcad to Ecad / Ecad to Mcad interface for almost 10 years now. We have been patiently waiting for the IDF 4 standard to be adapted. What is Cadence offering to enhance the experience? Its good to see that they are interested in the design tools but what do they have to show for the interest?
@JimT: You are absolutely right that you can't take the people aspect out of the collaboration equation. Tools can facilitate data sharing, but they can't do it on their own without cooperation and without the one-on-one exchanges that are so important to team building. These are merely bridges and by no means total solutions.
While commercial software routines for ECAD import are designed to bridge the data between the ME’s physical layout and the EE’s circuitry, enhancing the SW with new variables and making these routines more complex & sophisticated to the designer may further complicate an already cumbersome process. Enhancing the SW’s capability with design options may be good, but there is definitely a point of diminishing returns. The best guarantee of a successful product build is the experience between the ME and EE teams. Team communication, checking & rechecking of the design overlays are the best way to guarantee optimal circuit functionality without repetitive redesign.Nothing out-performs a team who has been together for a few programs.
That is an insightful way to look at it, Rob. No doubt, the combination of dispersed teams, outsourcing partners, and the need for tighter integration between disparate, previously siloed functional engineering groups is upping the ante for better collaboration tools. There really is no other way to pull all this stuff together in a timely fashion without them and the virtual world. We'll be seeing much more on this front, I hope!
Interesting article, Beth. It's funny. Software has helped companies disperse their operations -- some design in California, some design elsewhere, manufacturing design in some far-flung country. Now software is bringing the team back together virtually.
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, there may never be a better time for engineers and project managers to advance their careers and salaries. Whether those moves are successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
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