Have you ever wondered how design engineers transform your ideas for a product into a functional and on-point actuality? Do they use any tools? It is almost like they are magic elves from a Christmas movie that create the perfect gift for each child. The size, the color, and the circuitry are all just right.

Well, it takes years of knowledge and experience, but they also get some assistance from some software programs. The most common are Adobe Illustrator, SolidWorks, AutoCAD and OrCAD.

Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Illustrator is widely used for creating vector-based art. This art is then sent to either an imagesetter to create a film or to a Computer to Screen device. Vector based art produces a superior quality image for screen printing compared to any pixel-based format. Preferred formats include, but are not limited to .ai, .eps, .pdf, and .cdr. The key is for the native file to be created using vectors, so it can be used to produce printable graphics.

AutoCAD is widely used to produce switch artwork, engineering prints and any output requiring a .dxf format. Files in .dxf outputs can be used to create files for laser cutting, files to make steel rule dies for the die-cutting of parts, and fixture making. Customer supplied files in .dwg and .dxf formats can also be imported into AutoCad.

Both AutoCAD and Adobe Illustrator files can be converted into .dxf and imported into each other. This helps ensure that switch and graphic artwork align correctly.

For customers who provide printed circuit board gerber (.gbr) formatted files, a program called ViewMate Pro can be used to both view and convert those files to .dxf format for import into AutoCAD or Adobe Illustrator. This then allows design engineers to make sure that graphic, switch and printed circuit board all align.

SolidWorks is used when 2D AutoCAD isn’t quite enough. It is an extremely powerful alternative for 3D work. This program creates .iges and .step file formats. And when these files are supplied to vendors, they can be used to create elastomer tooling, 3D printed prototypes and fixtures.

OrCAD Cadence PCB Solutions
OrCAD is used for our more complicated schematic designs to help define the circuit function. It is versatile for designing the physical layout of the printed circuit board. It incorporates component library management for tying schematic symbol definitions to IPC-compliant PCB footprints. It drives design rules and constraint management for automatically checking that the design intent and manufacturability goals are being met to provide the right design solution for any user interface application.  Of course, it will export Gerber and DXF files for additional design and manufacturing activities at Xymox and suppliers, enabling a smooth transition from design to final solution.

These are just a few of the tools that are utilized for user interface solutions, whether that is a membrane switch, a capacitive touch screen, or a plug-and-play user interface solution.

While it is slightly disappointing to know that design engineers aren’t actually elves from Santa’s workshop, it is nice to know that your designs are in good hands. They are experts and utilize the programs above like magic to create exactly what you’re looking for.

Want to learn more about how Xymox can help you with your design? Contact us today!