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PCB design software for industrial automation

Industrial automation has revolutionised the way that factory floors, processing plants, assembly lines, and workshops operate. Robotics and control systems are used to streamline production and enhance efficiencies.

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) form the control system in the robots and programmed machines used in industrial settings. This makes them an essential component within these automated systems.

Once designed, PCBs can be produced to scale. At DesignSpark, we offer a bespoke PCB design service that can be tailored to suit your needs. To find out more about how this software works within industrial automation, read on.

What is a PCB?

PCBs connect electronic components within a device, tool, or piece of equipment. They contain copper conductors that form electrical connections between the components.

What does a PCB look like?

Printed circuit boards have a sandwich design. Each of the layers are laminated together. These layers are usually fibreglass, a layer of copper, and a soldermask, which is used to help solder in the right area. The final layer is the silkscreen which has the letters and numbers that are used to make assembling the PCB easy to follow.

Using PCBs in industrial automation

In fast-paced industrial settings, where precision, efficiency, and reliability are crucial, PCBs have become the key component within control systems for different machines and equipment. PCBs provide a compact and organised platform to integrate complex electronic components, helping to make automated processes function seamlessly.

The heart of this innovation lies in PCB design software, a crucial tool that engineers and designers use to craft the intricate electronic pathways within PCBs that power modern automation systems.

What are the applications for PCBs in industrial automation?

The applications of PCBs in industrial automation are diverse. They're found in equipment and machinery used in industries such as manufacturing, energy, automotive, and pharmaceuticals. These applications range from simple machinery control to intricate robotic systems. Some of the most common applications are:

  • Machine control systems: PCBs play a pivotal role in machine control systems, making communication between sensors, actuators, and central processing units possible. Whether it's an assembly line robot or a conveyor belt system, PCBs ensure that components work together, optimising production efficiency and minimising downtime.
  • Sensor integration and motion control: PCBs integrate various sensors, such as proximity sensors, temperature sensors, and pressure sensors. This helps with accurate data collection. PCBs are also used for motion control systems, with sensors informing machinery when to start and stop. The PCB controls the precise movement of these machinery components.
  • Industrial robotics: PCB-designed control systems within robots mean tasks are conducted with precision and accuracy. Complex movements, coordinated actions, and sensor integration are seamlessly managed through PCBs.

Advantages of PCB design software in industrial automation

PCB design software used in industrial automation offers a range of advantages that make the design, manufacturing, and maintenance of control systems more advanced:

  • Precision and efficiency: PCB design software means that intricate circuit layouts can be created and set out with precision. This level of precision enhances the overall efficiency of the control system.
  • Rapid prototyping: In the ever-evolving landscape of industrial automation, rapid prototyping and iteration are crucial. PCB design software empowers engineers to swiftly design, test, and modify circuits, reducing development time and accelerating the deployment of new control systems.
  • Energy efficiency: According to the International Federation of Robotics, the stock of installed robots hit 3.5 million units in 2023. This is likely a move towards lowering energy consumption in sectors like manufacturing, where this automated tech is able to move precisely and quickly, saving on energy and money. PCB design software is a key contributor to robotics, building the PCBs that feature in this equipment.
  • Space optimisation: Factory floors often have limited space. PCB design software allows for the optimisation of components, introducing compact control systems to suit the environment.
  • Cost efficiency: Using PCB design software reduces manufacturing waste. This not only lowers production costs but also contributes to a more sustainable approach to industrial automation.

Why choose DesignSpark's PCB service for industrial automation?

We can help you create the PCB you need for your industrial project. Our designs are flexible and can be adapted to suit the device you're working on.

  • A choice of plans: Choose from three subscription plans. Each is designed to meet different needs. It may be that our Explorer plan, which is our free subscription package, provides the unlimited schematic sheets and PCB layers you need.

    We have two paid plans that offer additional features. Creator offers an integrated SnapEDA CAD library and advanced DRC checks. Engineer is our highest-tier plan that includes features such as IPC-2581 output, hierarchical schematic designs, and copper coverage report.

  • No size limit: Whatever level you choose, you can create a PCB to your specifications. There are no size limits, so no matter the dimensions, DesignSpark PCB can accommodate you.
  • Easy to follow: Creating your own PCB is a smooth, straightforward process. Simply select the plan you want and follow the steps in our video tutorials. If you have questions, speak to our experts for help.

Login or register today to begin creating PCBs with DesignSpark.

I'm a Mechanical Engineer by qualification though I worked for a long time specialising in Motion Control systems and integration with various PLC systems. I've wide experience of many types of applications from packaging machines to military and some applications that I can't mention. At home, I like to tinker and make things with wood, metal, plastics, electronics and mechanical system. I'm never happier than with a hammer and a screwdriver in my hands....