Protel PCB: The World’s Leading Circuit Board Design Software

Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) have come to stay, in addition to simplifying the design processes for electronics. The simplicity of a PCB is directionally proportional to the effectiveness of the process technology. Today, it is common to use circuit board software to make these boards.

With several software options out there, you may be wondering if you would be able to find the best out of the lot. Indeed, one of the best PCB design software is Protel PCB and in this article, we talk extensively about what it has to offer.

What is the Meaning of Protel PCB?

It is a dedicated software used for the designs of Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs). It is to be noted that PCBs can sometimes be difficult to design, especially when the configuration options are so much.

With the aid of software like Protel PCB, you can be sure to get around the complicated design processes, while scaling the designs in good time.

The Rebranding of Protel PCB

It is not common to find anyone talking about Protel PCB nowadays and that is not because the software is extinct. It is simply because Protel PCB has been rebranded to Altium Designer, named after the developer, Altium.

You may be wondering why the rebranding took place. We picked a few points about that from the official blog post by Altium.

The following are some of the points we deduced:

  • Protel PCB is not to be known officially as Altium Designer 365
  • The rebranding to Altium Designer 365 also paved the way for the implementation of newer processes, including the pioneering of newer technologies for the PCB design process.
  • The Altium Designer 365 introduces a new unified design environment that supports commonality. This way, it becomes easier to do away with some of the challenges that come with synchronizing the PCB designs with different software systems.

Why Protel PCB is the Best PCB Design Software

There is no denying that there are a couple of other PCB design tools you can find out. But if you are looking for a unified experience, and a lot of other unique features, your best choice should be Protel PCB.

Here are a couple of reasons why you should choose Protel PCB over the other PCB design tools:

1. Unification

Considering how technical Printed Circuit Board (PCB) designs could be, it would be a great idea to use a unified platform where you get to handle most of the design iterations. That is what Protel PCB offers with the unified design approach.

This approach sees the software offering “one interface, one data model and endless possibilities” for your PCB design needs.

By leveraging the unified design environment, you can now process different aspects of circuit board designs, ranging from the schematics, harness designs, PCB layouts and the documentations.

The unified design also supports the flexible integration of the Protel PCB/Altium Designer software to “every detail of the electronics design process from idea to manufacture.”

The unification of the design process is not limited to the designs, as the data models are also supported. The unified data models include the support for a single, yet cohesive data model. This model also allows for the following:

  • Easy access to the harness designs, schematics and layouts.
  • Flexible manipulation of the detailed data for the following: harness designs, schematics, simulations, layouts and multi-boards.

2. Excellent Parts and BOMs Management

Managing the parts and components needed for the design is one of the major features of the Altium Designer.

First, you want to use the Manufacturer Part Search feature to look up the components from the listed manufacturers.

Second and most important, Protel PCB software has a dedicated Real-Time BOM Management with ActiveBOM feature. It is designed to help circuit designers to source component data, manage these components and get access to the suppliers right from the Altium Designer.

3. Protel PCB Supports Interactive Routing

The Altium Designer PCB design software also supports interactive routing of the components, whereby the electronic components can be routed in real-time. This is in addition to the support for Interactive Routing, which allows for the routing of these components in any of the following ways:

  • Walkaround
  • Push
  • Hug and;
  • Slide

4. 3D Routing

The 3D Routing capability of the Altium Designer/Protel PCB is an advanced feature that allows for the integration of both the mechanical and electrical requirements into a single solution.

Using this, you can then make additional incorporations or integrations, notably the standard Surface Mount Technology (SMT) footprints from the component libraries, as well as using the schematic design to drive the connectivity and schematics of the boards.

Getting Started with the Altium Designer

If you are keen on using the Protel PCB design software for your next PCB projects, there are a couple of options for you to choose from.

We must also mention that Protel PCB software is a bit pricey, but worth it. However, you might just get a chance to use it for free – for some time.

According to the information on the website, Altium Designer offers a free trial. The terms of the free trial include but are not limited to:

  • The Altium Enterprise Solution is not included in the free trial.
  • The free trial version also limits the usage to the Altium 365 Standard Subscription. Thus, access to the Pro and Enterprise plans is not allowed.

The Altium Designer License

To make the most out of the Protel PCB or Altium Designer, you want to subscribe to any of the licenses. The company makes these licenses available, as per the needs of your business.

Below are the Altium Designer Licensing options you can choose from today:

  • Perpetual: starting at $11,970, the Perpetual Altium Designer license allows you to use the license as long as you comply with the agreement terms.
  • Term-Based: this is an affordable variant to the Perpetual license. Starting at $355, the Term-Based Altium Designer license allows you to keep using the software, as long as you keep renewing the subscription/license.

Final Words

Protel PCB otherwise known as Altium Designer, is an excellent software to help you scale your Printed Circuit Board (PCB) designs. Pick any of the available licenses mentioned in this post to get started or contact the sales department to give you a custom quotation for the software.


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