PCBA Visualizer – User Guide – CPL Editor

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What is PCBA Visualizer?

PCBA Visualizer is a powerful tool designed to help engineers and PCB designers visualize and analyze their printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs) within the CPL Editor environment. It provides a comprehensive set of features that allow users to inspect, measure, and troubleshoot their designs, ensuring optimal performance and reliability.

Key Features of PCBA Visualizer

PCBA Visualizer offers a wide range of features to streamline the PCB design and analysis process. Some of the key features include:

1. 3D Visualization

The 3D visualization feature allows users to view their PCBA designs in a realistic, three-dimensional representation. This helps designers better understand the spatial relationships between components, identify potential clearance issues, and optimize the overall layout of the board.

2. Real-time Measurements

PCBA Visualizer enables users to perform real-time measurements on their designs, including:

  • Distance between components
  • Trace widths and lengths
  • Clearance between objects
  • Component dimensions

These measurements help ensure that the PCBA meets the required specifications and adheres to manufacturing constraints.

3. Layer Visibility Control

The layer visibility control feature allows users to selectively display or hide different layers of the PCBA, such as:

  • Top and bottom copper layers
  • Solder mask layers
  • Silkscreen layers
  • Internal layers

This functionality helps designers focus on specific aspects of the design and simplifies the analysis process.

4. Cross-section View

PCBA Visualizer provides a cross-section view that enables users to examine the internal structure of the board. This feature is particularly useful for analyzing:

  • Via structures
  • Layer stackup
  • Impedance control
  • Buried and blind vias

The cross-section view helps designers optimize the board’s performance and ensure manufacturability.

5. Design Rule Checking (DRC)

The integrated Design Rule Checking (DRC) feature allows users to validate their designs against a set of predefined rules and constraints. This helps identify potential issues, such as:

  • Clearance violations
  • Trace width violations
  • Annular ring violations
  • Acid trap violations

By running DRC checks, designers can proactively address issues and ensure that their designs are error-free and ready for manufacturing.

Getting Started with PCBA Visualizer

To start using PCBA Visualizer, follow these simple steps:

  1. Open your PCBA design in CPL Editor.
  2. Click on the “PCBA Visualizer” button in the toolbar or select “Tools” > “PCBA Visualizer” from the menu.
  3. The PCBA Visualizer window will appear, displaying your design in 3D.
  4. Use the navigation controls (pan, zoom, rotate) to explore your design.
  5. Utilize the various features and tools to analyze and optimize your PCBA.

PCBA Visualizer Interface Overview

The PCBA Visualizer interface is designed to be intuitive and user-friendly. The main window is divided into several key areas:

Area Description
3D View Displays the 3D representation of your PCBA design.
Layer Panel Allows you to control the visibility of individual layers.
Measurement Tools Provides tools for measuring distances, widths, and clearances.
Cross-section Panel Displays the cross-section view of your PCBA.
DRC Panel Allows you to run Design Rule Checks and view the results.
Properties Panel Displays properties and information about selected objects.

Analyzing Your PCBA Design

PCBA Visualizer provides a comprehensive set of tools and features to help you analyze and optimize your design. Some of the key analysis tasks include:

1. Measuring Distances and Clearances

To measure distances and clearances between components or traces:

  1. Select the “Measure” tool from the Measurement Tools panel.
  2. Click on the first point of the measurement.
  3. Click on the second point of the measurement.
  4. The distance or clearance will be displayed in the Properties Panel.

2. Examining Layer Stackup

To examine the layer stackup of your PCBA:

  1. Open the Cross-section Panel.
  2. Use the layer selection controls to choose the desired cross-section view.
  3. The layer stackup will be displayed in the cross-section view.
  4. Use the measurement tools to analyze the layer thicknesses and impedance control.

3. Running Design Rule Checks

To run Design Rule Checks on your PCBA:

  1. Open the DRC Panel.
  2. Select the desired rule set from the dropdown menu.
  3. Click the “Run DRC” button.
  4. The DRC results will be displayed in the DRC Panel.
  5. Click on individual violations to highlight them in the 3D View.

Best Practices for Using PCBA Visualizer

To get the most out of PCBA Visualizer, consider the following best practices:

  • Regularly run Design Rule Checks to identify and resolve issues early in the design process.
  • Use the layer visibility controls to focus on specific aspects of your design.
  • Utilize the cross-section view to optimize your layer stackup and impedance control.
  • Take advantage of the real-time measurement tools to ensure your design meets the required specifications.
  • Collaborate with your team members by sharing PCBA Visualizer project files and screenshots.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Can PCBA Visualizer import designs from other PCB design tools?

Yes, PCBA Visualizer supports importing designs from popular PCB design tools such as Altium Designer, Cadence Allegro, and Mentor Graphics PADS. Simply export your design in a compatible format (e.g., ODB++, IPC-2581) and import it into PCBA Visualizer.

2. Does PCBA Visualizer support custom design rule sets?

Yes, PCBA Visualizer allows you to create and manage custom design rule sets tailored to your specific requirements. You can define your own rules, thresholds, and constraints to ensure your designs meet your company’s standards and manufacturing guidelines.

3. Can I export my PCBA Visualizer project for sharing or collaboration?

Yes, PCBA Visualizer projects can be exported in various formats, including 3D PDF, STEP, and IGES. This allows you to share your designs with colleagues, manufacturers, or clients who may not have access to PCBA Visualizer or CPL Editor.

4. Is PCBA Visualizer available as a standalone application?

No, PCBA Visualizer is currently integrated into the CPL Editor environment and requires an active CPL Editor license to function. However, the development team is considering releasing a standalone version in the future to cater to a broader audience.

5. How can I get support or report a bug in PCBA Visualizer?

If you encounter any issues or have questions about PCBA Visualizer, you can reach out to the support team through the official CPL Editor support channels. This may include submitting a support ticket, posting on the community forums, or contacting your designated account manager.


PCBA Visualizer is a powerful and comprehensive tool that revolutionizes the way engineers and PCB designers analyze and optimize their designs. With its intuitive interface, real-time measurements, and advanced features like 3D visualization and cross-section views, PCBA Visualizer streamlines the design process and helps ensure the manufacturability and reliability of your PCBAs.

By leveraging the capabilities of PCBA Visualizer within the CPL Editor environment, you can significantly reduce design errors, improve collaboration, and accelerate your time-to-market. Whether you’re working on simple or complex PCBAs, PCBA Visualizer provides the tools and insights you need to create high-quality, error-free designs.

So why wait? Start using PCBA Visualizer today and take your PCB design and analysis to the next level!