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PCB data

True virtual simulation of electromagnetic behaviour and thermal characteristics of PCBs relies on a full 3D representation of the accurate placement of components, their electrical copper interconnections with related geometric dimensions and insulator material properties.

PCB Data in PLM process

The common electromechanical tasks depend on the model exchange protocols which are based on standard industry protocols and they contain different model related information. The usual collaboration between CAD engineers is only by the model exchange between the tools and disciplines they are working in.

MECODES makes an advanced step further where the model exchange is enhanced with features which make the collaboration much easier. The process of design synchronization between the design disciplines microelectronics and mechanical is very user-friendly guided and further enriched that the data between the logical models of the different CAD systems are transferred correctly. Such synchronization allows the engineers to see detailed data from design contributing domains which are used and are important for innovative electromechanical products at different scales. For example, electrical data is visible in a familiar way and in the same way MCAD data is visible in ECAD.

The central point within the MECODES environment is the design model within CATIA V5 or CATIA 3DEXPERIENCE. This data and design model is used to store collaborative information and ECAD and MCAD project-specific data.

Picture: The integrated bill of materials with the belonging integrated model

In earlier standards for electro-mechanical communication, data was exchanged in one direction and would typically be transferred once in the design process. Lack of collaboration such as this causes issues to crop up late in the design process. This, in turn, causes significant re-work and additional time to complete the project under the correct specifications. With the new ProSTEP communication protocol EDMD, the collaboration between the electrical and mechanical domains is encouraged and incremental changes to the specifications are easy to share as the design progresses.

To collaborate between ECAD solutions of Mentor Graphics/Siemens and Cadence and the MCAD solutions of Dassault Systèmes, users have access to all relevant information in the other domain. This improved, two-way incremental flow of information avoids potential issues and accelerates project development. To collaborate on only modified items, a baseline can be exported from either electrical or mechanical domains and applied to the corresponding tool. This benefits users so that only the modified objects are seen and collaborated with, rather than the whole data model. Once the data model has been synchronized, either the mechanical or electrical domains can create incremental changes and propose them to the corresponding designer. The designer can then ‘Accept’ or ‘Reject’ the proposed changes and send the original owner a response to pass on the true design intent. This indicates the feedback exchanged between the two domains. Once the response has been accepted, the collaboration process can start again with another incremental change, until the design is complete.

ECAD – MECODES – and Dassault Systèmes

The interoperability in terms of a collaboration process on selected ECAD and MCAD objects that might be originally created either in the one or the other CAD environment is an essential feature and provided by MECODES. In the collaboration process, MECODES embeds both the creation of a baseline and the common collaborative working together results in the collaboration model and proposes changes where the baseline has been created earlier in the design process and does not fulfill (space) requirements. To exploit the most benefit it must be possible that not only the whole data model but also selective parts of it are exclusively usable. To ensure that functionality almost a full PCB Dataset is transferred and stored within the 3DEXPERIENCE model as it is shown in the following table.

Picture: Visualization of silkscreen and solder mask, copper information and annotations in CATIA V5 and 3DEXPERIENCE

PCB Data MECODES / IDX Other formats
Board Outline (including overall thickness) Yes Yes
Route/Package Keep-In Yes Yes
Route/Package Keep-Outs Yes Yes
Voids-In Keep-Outs Yes No
Component Location Yes Yes
Component Height Multiple heights (contour) Maximum single height
Drills Circular, square, oblong, rectangular Circle
Placement Rooms Yes Yes
Pin 1 Location Yes No
3D Data Set Yes No
Bend Area/Line Yes No
Voids-In Keep-Outs Yes No
Ref-Des Sequencing Yes No
Components attributes: Ref. Des. Value, Tolerances, Name, Description, Package Yes No
Copper Area / Thickness Exchange Bi-directional No
Copper Trace ECAD to MCAD only No
Multilayer Circuit Board – Thicknesses, drillings, Vias Yes No
3D representations for etching masks, solder masks, annotations, copper thickness, milling profiles etc. Yes No
360 degrees view for optical, electrical and dimensional inspections Yes No


The richness of the stored PCB data allows MECODES enabled clients on the MCAD side to show a full picture of the ECAD model within the workspace of CATIA V5 or 3DEXPERIENCE.

Picture: PCB Data integrated into the mechanical model through MECODES including relevant ECAD parameters, like Reference Designator, Description, Tolerance, Value, Design Item ID, Package…

Clearance control


Because of the miniaturization and the very limited space in products clearance control is one of the most important features. It prevents clashes, reworks and enables higher quality products.

MECODES allows defining space and distance rules between:

  • two ordinary components
  • two electronic components of the same kind or different types
  • any electronic components and any mechanical component and all of them with the housing

A challenging task in mounting real physical boards with the mechanical housing is to ensure that the PCBs fits the mounting constraints as well as the electrical and thermal requirements. Important electrical and thermal requirements are verified by the simulation composed mechanical and equipped PCB(s). It is essential to transfer the copper in all layers to receive realistic simulation results which will allow being produce integrated electro-mechanical products. The MECODES solution allows designers to implement in the integrated model all vias filled with copper in addition to the copper traces on the different layers of the PCB stack.

Picture: Visualization of  distance control between a capacitor and a connector based on predefined rules


Why should you use MECODES?

EDMD Protocol

PCB data

ECAD<->MCAD Library

PCB with Multilayers and Copper Traces

Transaction history