Announcing PCBWorks: Better ECAD/MCAD Collaboration For SOLIDWORKS

By Madeleine Hartle on

You’ve spent hours building the perfect mechanical part. You send your files to the electrical engineers, only to run into integration problems, compatibility issues and disjointed materials. Sound familiar? 

web-PCBWorks_PoweredbyAltium_HorizPCBWorks, a new PCB design tool made specifically for integration with SOLIDWORKS, helps ease the headache of failed collaborations to help your ECAD/MCAD design teams work better together.

The True Costs Of Failed ECAD/MCAD Design Collaboration


With the rising need for connected design experiences, we are at a unique juncture where collaboration features are becoming a daily necessity. As engineers strive to strike the perfect balance of aesthetic emotion and electronic functionality, a design process that rewards experimentation is surely needed.

It’s rare to find a mechanical design that exists in isolation with no PCB counterpart. As connected as the physical customer experience is, our ECAD/MCAD design collaboration process is commonly fragmented and separate.

Both sides vie for control and struggle to communicate, causing:

  • Missed time to market and budgets with design revisions slipping through the cracks and prototype costs skyrocketing
  • Wasted time and productivity managing multiple revisions that could have been solved the first time with a properly implemented collaboration system
  • Product experiences that are compromised during the design phase based on budget and time constraints

Tangible Pain

Engineers always love concrete data, so consider this the next time you are facing the potentiality of a failed design process.

  • Can your budget really afford numerous prototypes that fail to fit your mechanical enclosure because of a communication breakdown in the design phase? The average company creating a moderately complex PCB requires 14.1 physical prototypes at an average cost of $8,929 per prototype.
  • How many ECOs has your company generated in the last year because your ECAD/MCAD designers weren’t on the same page? On average, Engineering Change Orders (ECOs) cost $1,984 to implement during development and $10,625 once a design has been released to manufacturing.

A New Reality for Collaboration

We’ve witnessed the engineering community waiting years for a viable solution to this collaboration issue. While there have been many noble attempts, most have fallen flat and we currently are faced with a very fragmented system.

At Altium, we’ve carefully developed a solution that balances the productivity needs of both electrical and mechanical designers with the necessity for a constant communication flow.

When we looked at the traditional design environment in several companies, what we found is mechanical designers leading the workflow process with the mechanical enclosure being the final determinant for how a design would come to completion.

Changing the mechanical designer’s tool would lead to a disruption in this traditional structure. The weak link was clearly the PCB design tool with no intelligent data connection with the mechanical environment.

PCBWorks solves all of the old problems, incorporating a number of features that intelligently link design data to keep both design teams operating at their highest peak of efficiency.

With PCBWorks, you can:

  • Actively make changes to component placement, board shape and mounting holes on your PCB directly in your SOLIDWORKS environment, syncing data with PCBWorks easily with managed ECOs.


  • Ensure that your design data is as accurate as possible by using SOLIDWORKS native Parasolid file format directly in PCBWorks. By using native lossless files instead of translations, Parasolid provides the most accurate representation of your design intent and keeps your mechanical and electrical data in sync.


  • Gain an even greater degree of control over your PCB design process with access to copper traces from your board designs. Native Parasolid board data provides a new level of analysis capabilities directly within SOLIDWORKS with thermal, vibration and other simulations.


That’s just a small sampling of everything that’s possible in PCBWorks for design collaboration. And with more than 25 years of experience in PCB design, you can be assured that PCBWorks includes all of the necessary power needed to easily handle today’s electronic designs.

Check out all the features in PCBWorks and see what’s possible for your design collaboration process.