For this issue, we wanted to take a snapshot of the PCB design segment as it exists today: the good, the bad, and everything in between. After interviewing designers at trade shows and conferences this year, I think it’s safe to say that it’s a pretty good time to be a PCB designer or design engineer. It’s also the most interesting, hectic time for this segment that I can remember. I wouldn’t use the word “volatile,” but that’s not too far off the mark. There is a lot going on right now in electronics. All of these new technologies are swirling around, and designers are rightly wondering how they might have to change their design processes to adapt.
“Faster” and “smaller” are still the watchwords for even the simplest PCBs. In one of our features, Lee Ritchey explains how he has watched speeds increase 40,000X in just the last 24 years. On top of that, designers have been told that they should have a decent working knowledge of 5G and IoT as well as Industry 4.0 and smart factories, just to be sure; that’s a lot to take in. Of course, designers like this kind of thing. They enjoy putting together pieces of a complex puzzle, and these are just a few more pieces of the puzzle. Tell them what the board needs to do, and they’ll design it for you.
These are good times for the design world, but it’s all cyclical. The current landscape reminds me of the attitude in the design community when I first started covering this beat. The dot-com boom was taking off, and we saw startups coming online and EDA companies merging almost monthly. I remember meeting dot-com company owners who couldn’t explain how they planned to make any revenue. If you had a dot-com, money was just going to fall from the sky.
To read this entire column, which appeared in the October 2019 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.