Free PCB Viewer Review: Best Tool for EDA File Formats

Zachariah Peterson
|  Created: November 18, 2020

To quickly set up and work with the different PCB file formats in one Viewer, you need the best PCB Design tools available; you need Altium Designer.

Altium offers a Free PCB Viewer

Looking for a PCB viewer free download or free PCB design software that can take all EDA file formats and presents them in a tool accessible to every member of the production process? Being able to read obscure engineering software formats in a variety of environments is vital for users. Having a viewer enables audience access to tools where they can view documents normally accessible only in expensive EDA software toolsets. This is where Altium Designer comes in. With its decades of experience within the PCB design software industry, software innovation comes naturally. Use a PCB editor that enables anything from schematic capture to layout to printed circuit board footprints editing to happen all within the same user-friendly interface and encourage your designs to make it to their end goal of electronics manufacturing. Your work deserves a great PCB design tool like Altium Designer’s free PCB viewer.

How to Open PCB File Types with Altium Designer’s PCB Viewer

Check out the Altium Designer PCB viewer free download--It’s the best option for accessing PCB layouts in the EDA file format. The viewer takes all formats within the output files, the container for schematics, layouts, and manufacturing files. This means any PCB designer can use their PC, along with the viewer, to access all of the design content for the printed circuit assembly.

Altium’s free PCB Viewer translates all EDA file formats, along with ODB++, IPC-2581, Gerber X2 and X, and IPC-D-356 to enable users to view any file within the printed circuit assembly container of documents. It takes EDPDF from SAP management information system directories and translates the files for those who have no access to SAP systems. And file viewers are now able to view STEP files which produce mechanical renderings of the printed circuit assembly. In addition, using XML or xls, the Viewer can take intricate BOM reports and show them without having to get log ons to software you don’t normally use.

Altium’s PCB File Viewer Enables a Seamless Review Process

Imagine revisiting PCB design software and viewing EDA drawings generated in realtime. Altium Designer’s PCB Viewer allows this type of use by your entire team with the following best-practice features.

  • Altium Designer’s PCB Viewer allows read-only access to schematic capture documents. This means that people using a Viewer to access EDA design documentation cannot make changes to the design documents.

    Learn more about EDA design documentation.

  • The Viewer allows manufacturing teams to gather all schematics and supplementary information needed to start the pre-planning efforts. This accelerates pre-planning and allows scheduling fabrication and assembly houses early in the development to save cost.

    Learn more about PCB Panelization Support.

  • The PCB Viewer creates customized schematic project outputs for design variants linking fabrication and assembly outputs. Learn more about customizable output configurations.

PCB Design Environment with multiple boards for panelization

Have access to all the files for display with the free PCB Viewer, even for panelization

PCB Viewers Promote Effective Communication

You can use the Altium’s PCB Viewer to share information with your manufacturing partners at the assembly houses by highlighting certain areas of the circuit for discussion. You can cross-probe between schematic and PCB layout files to compare layout instructions versus actual representation of the circuit design.

What Altium Designer absolutely thrives at is providing you a PCB editor that allows you to use whatever tool or feature you need to use in an intuitive and inclusive platform. Being able to use PCB design software that is as versatile as Altium Designer while also maintaining easy file formatting and editing to maintain strong communication between design teams and departments is paramount for a PCB designer’s integrity.

Streamline Your Communication Protocols with Altium Designer

While you can effectively use your PCB design software to any means you need to achieve, there are parts of it which will succeed at different aspects of your design process. When dealing with PCB doc files, the Altium Designer PCB Viewer streamlines your process by:

  • Effectively communicating your PCB design intent to manufacturing vendors. This removes time consuming and tedious processes. It allows you to export your files to other 2D drafting tools, and it creates illustrations with the ability to add as many notes and details as necessary for building.

    Learn more about the advanced design navigation feature.

  • Allowing view, print, and cross-probe design documentation. Your entire design team is empowered to securely access, view, cross-probe, and print single documents, CAD documents, or the entire Printed Circuit Board design data.

    Learn more about Global Editing.

  • Enabling search through live supplier data. All team members have access to live supplier data and can search through supplier databases.

    Learn more about Real-Time BOM Management.

Manufacturing Output files in Altium Designer’s Draftsman

Manufacturing Output files are easily displayed with Draftsman

PCB Viewers Should Have Layers for Manufacturing and Assembly

Not only are your manufacturing partners at the fabrication and assembly houses able to view your documents, but your in-house purchasing partners can open and view your documents with a viewer. They no longer need to import your documents into SAP to reprocess. No longer do you or your partners need to decode cryptic XML formats, losing data, and rebuilding for proper communication.

The entire PCB project container is available for all team members to use within the same PCB Viewer, available for free download by your partners. This eases communication letting users access details of the design applicable to their job function.

Make Your Design Workflow Smooth with Altium Designer

It’ll be a rare day when you work in PCB design and don’t have to report your work to anybody else. Until that day happens, work with a PCB viewer that can make documentation and peer review easy.

Don’t settle for PCB file viewers that simply won’t get the job done. When you’re working on your PCB designs, you’ll want to make sure that you’re more than capable of sharing all the information you need to share, whenever you need to share it. No more waiting, no more formatting and translating in your data files - use Altium Designer to make your documentation process a breeze.

About Author

About Author

Zachariah Peterson has an extensive technical background in academia and industry. He currently provides research, design, and marketing services to companies in the electronics industry. Prior to working in the PCB industry, he taught at Portland State University and conducted research on random laser theory, materials, and stability. His background in scientific research spans topics in nanoparticle lasers, electronic and optoelectronic semiconductor devices, environmental sensors, and stochastics. His work has been published in over a dozen peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, and he has written 1000+ technical blogs on PCB design for a number of companies. He is a member of IEEE Photonics Society, IEEE Electronics Packaging Society, and the American Physical Society, and he currently serves on the INCITS Quantum Computing Technical Advisory Committee.

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