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Why should I use DesignSpark PCB?

Posted by Mike Brojak


Dear Readers,

We believe in helping engineers to be more productive so they can achieve their highest potential. This is why we provide DesignSpark software tools. I told one of our users a story of how DSPCB is being used by various companies and he was so inspired by it, he asked me to share it with others.

I would like to summarise my experience of communicating with thousands of existing users - by support email, forums but also in person during various trade shows and events. This lecture will hopefully help you decide whether DSPCB is the right package for you. I am presenting a brief descriptions from three perspectives: Company (ok - this one is a bit longer), Hobbyist, Educator - please scroll down to the part most relevant to you


Many companies are skeptical about DesignSpark PCB before trying it. Free PCB software is often thought of as severely limited in functionality or a teaser that requires a licence for unlocking more advanced features. This is where we are different! It turns out that once a company gives it a go, DesignSpark PCB finds its place as an integral part of their development infrastructure. Recently I talked to a Development Manager whose company had been using a higher-end tool for many years. One of his engineers made him aware of DSPCB over 2 years back but he was not interested back then. Couple of months ago the same engineer showed him some of his hobby projects he has been working on using DesignSpark PCB. This demo had resulted in a longer discussion on what DSPCB is capable of and their team decided to give it a go. They quickly realised that this free and powerful package can do all they need!! Apparently now they are laughing they have not been using something like 90% of the advanced functionality they have been paying for. They were able to reduce licences from 5 seats to just one - only to be able to maintain the past projects. This is a huge cost saving. Additionally Engineers can now design faster and if they have a new member of the Team joining, it does not take long to train them up in comparison with what it would take with the high-end tool they have been using previously.

Large company

On the other extreme a growing number of large and blue chip companies using DesignSpark PCB as their prototyping tool of choice. In case of a larger company the pattern is usually the same: they roll out DSPCB on every machine in a development department which is easy as no approved budget is required. Design Engineers are then able to knock up quick prototypes freeing up the time of layout engineers, who can now focus on full scale layouts. This saves them from being interrupted by constant requests for laying out prototype circuits, and gives designers an opportunity to do small layouts exactly the way they need. What really helps here is that DesignSpark PCB is very easy to learn and use and is optimised for Rapid Prototyping, especially introducing new parts into designs. A design tool in hands of every Engineer in a Team naturally encourages ideas and leads to more innovation!


Figure 1. Changes in Development Lifecycle flow when DesigSpark PCB added

Having DSPCB schematics and layout for a tested prototype brings another massive time saving: it helps to reduce the amount of communication between designers and layouters, after all - picture speaks more than words.

In summary: in commercial setup, regardless of the size of your organisation, DesignSpark PCB is perfectly capable to help you save time, simplify your prototyping activities, all the way through to being used as a main EDA software.


DesignSpark PCB is very popular among engineers who, apart of their day jobs, like to pursue electronic designs in their free time. In fact many companies learn the benefits of DSPCB thanks to their employees' private interest in PCB design. We are big supporters of Open Hardware which is very popular among our community. Many of hobbyists are actively taking part in discussions on our forums where they exchange ideas and discuss experiences with using our software. They are often keen helping the less experienced users like students or amateur electronic designers. For those who believe electronics is one of the coolest hobbies out there - DesignSpark PCB is your hobby tool of choice ;-)


DSPCB quickly becomes a leading PCB design software used for teaching electronics. Perhaps the biggest advantage of our free and unrestricted software in education sector is that students can work on their own computers at home. This means they no longer are restricted by the availability of computers in a lab or restricted by the lab opening times. In fact, Professors told us that students spend a lot more time doing hands on design when switched to DSPCB. Other big advantage is full import of Eagle files - which is still used by many schools in its severely limited free version. Hundreds of universities and technical schools have incorporated DesignSpark PCB in their teaching programmes. We have recognised this growing demand and have developed a special educational site license that enables simplified activation on multiple seats. As you probably expect - this license is free, just contact us via email. In addition we offer free teaching materials that can be used by Professors to help building their course content (To download the Teaching Material Pack click here). Many of them now believe that DesignSpark PCB is the best tool for educating the engineers of tomorrow!

Best regards,





  • wayneo123 Avatar wayneo123

    Posted by wayneo123 at

    I just updated D/S from 6.1 to 7.0 (on two machines) everything seemed
    to be good at first.....
    However..... When I tried a copper pour (with thermals disabled on VIAS)
    D/S insists on placing thermals on all VIAS....
    My boards are so tiny that there is NO ROOM for VIAS with thermals.

    BTW, I tried to do a copper piur with no thermals on pads and that doesn't
    work either.

    This has been a GREAT tool til now, but this issue is a deal buster if I can't
    get this feature to work.

  • mikebk Avatar mikebk

    Posted by mikebk at

    Hi bexy,

    No, DesignSpark PCB does not generally support importing files from other ECAD packages. The only Exception is Cadsoft Eagle for which DSPCB can import libraries, schematic and pcb files.


  • bexy Avatar bexy

    Posted by bexy at

    is there any way to import PCB files from traxmaker program from circuit maker 2000?

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