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DownStream Technologies, LLC today announced the release of new versions of their industry-leading PCB post-processing solutions, BluePrint-PCB, CAM350, and DFMStream. The releases include many new features and performance improvements designed to help users post-process PCB designs and create and distribute all the deliverables required for a complete PCB assembly release package.
“We are very involved with our customer base so throughout the year we query them and look for feedback on how to improve our products,” said Rick Almeida, one of DownStream’s founders. “Based on that input, we have responded with new releases which include significant additions and enhancements,” he added.
Among the major enhancements is a new graphic user interface (GUI) for BluePrint-PCB which has been updated to align with Microsoft Ribbons User Interface scheme. The new “ribbons interface” flattens out BluePrint’s menu hierarchy, making access to common functions faster and easier. The additions include a new dynamic “World View” to give users a quick reference of the current screen location as well as an optional new “Pan and Zoom” function that aligns BluePrint’s viewing functions with most PCB CAD tools. The pan and Zoom function uses the middle mouse button to quickly zoom in and out of large sheet-sized documents. The new Panning function allows users to quickly pan across the drawing sheet either while viewing or while executing other drawing commands. The user interface enhancements borrow many design ques from DownStream’s SoloPCB® design tools and signal a new direction for all DownStream products going forward.
“During the development of our Do-It-Yourself PCB design tools - SoloPCB and SoloCapture® - we created a new user interface model. Those same concepts have allowed us to seamlessly create a new user interface paradigm for BluePrint-PCB, keeping it aligned with other Microsoft Office document applications,” Almeida said. “We see the Microsoft Ribbons model becoming the standard GUI platform for all DownStream products going forward,” he hinted.
In addition to the new user interface, major modifications were made to BluePrint’s Assembly Panel functions allowing users to design assembly panels in a more user-friendly design environment. When a panel design is executed, BluePrint’s document view is replaced by an easier-to-view design view that allows color-coding of different panel objects. The result is a seamless transition between design editing and document editing.
Several new features were also added to BluePrint’s Assembly Panel Toolkit. Features such as Smart Callouts that automatically detect pinning holes and board chamfer and automatically calculates the number of instances these features are used in the design to minimize PCB fabrication errors. At the same time new online Mill Checking features have been added that prevent users from placing mill tabs too close to other mill tabs or PCB features saving time and increasing panel manufacturability.
DFMStream has also seen significant upgrades in this release. Specifically, DFMStream had been updated to include new Analysis Checks to verify anti-pads to adjacent layers to validate 100% ground plane reference and same net minimal spacing. Negative Planes were further expanded to include minimal width and gap between copper elements and ant-pads. In preparation for a more in-depth GUI change in the future, DFMStream’s analysis functions have been upgraded to give customers more options to manage the user workspace as well as adding a more modern feel to the analysis functions, a precursor of what’s to come in follow-on releases.
While the major focus of the release is on BluePrint and DFMStream, CAM350 also has seen enhancements based on end-user requests. “This release continues to expand focus on DFM and panel design, features we see as important requirement for customers trying to shorten market windows. With DFMStream and BluePrint well positioned in the market place, our efforts can now turn back to our flagship product for significant upgrades in 2016 and beyond,” said Almeida.
When prompted for motivation on this release and future upgrades, Almeida states, “Many companies are realizing that ultra-competitive scenarios are creating shorter windows in order to reap return on new product introduction (NPI). The DownStream product line mission is to help companies minimize iterations in design and manufacturing and placing a heavier emphasis on flawless NPI and getting the design right the first time through the design cycle. As this trend continues, it will become critical that verifying a design for manufacturability is moved further upstream so that manufacturing is built into the design upfront by the designer themselves.”
CAM350 Version 12.1 Highlights
ODB++ / IPC-2581 Support - full support is provided for the newer revisions of industry standard file format specifications including both import and export functions.
Multi Threading Support - full support for multi-threading has been implemented into the core DFMStream analysis algorithms. By taking advantage of native parallel processing in current multi-core processor, analysis times over a sample of designs were 3 to 5 times faster when compared to previous non-multi-thread enabled versions.
Expanded Support of Advanced Constructs and Design Techniques - New analysis options include trace to anti-pads on adjacent layers to validate 100% ground plane reference, and same net minimal spacing. In addition, analysis for negative planes was expanded to include minimal width and minimal gap between copper elements and anti-pads.
General Enhancements - Specific enhancements include enhanced detection for back drills, laser vias, and global fiducials, netlist compare for no connect nets, and so much more.
BluePrint-PCB Version 5.1 Highlights
Updated User Interface – The User Interface was updated to more current Windows standards. Toolbars and menus have been replaced with function-based ribbons. Commands that were previously several menu selections deep are now readily available from function specific ribbons. User interface elements previously fixed to the application frame can be detached from the application or hidden from view until recalled allowing the user complete control over the viewable area. Context sensitive ribbons with object specific commands and formatting options are presented for a selected item. The new update to the user interface provides expedient access to commands, reduces the learning curve and expedites the adoption of BluePrint for creating PCB documentation.
API Update - The application programming interface (API) was updated to increase the automation options available to users. New automation features include the ability to run BluePrint silently, prompt for a selection point, and the ability to retrieve geometry details from various BluePrint objects. These updates improve the existing robust API to provide greater flexibility when creating custom applications that interact with BluePrint.
Milling Pattern Checks - New milling pattern checking features were introduced to prevent or analyze a PCB assembly panel design for potential milling errors. Enable milling error prevention mode to create error free milling patterns based on user-defined criteria. User defined criteria includes mill tab keep in and keep out areas and minimal distances between mill tabs and adjacent objects. Additionally, compare milling patterns across all PCB images to ensure pattern match. Milling checks can also be performed as a post process or any time during the PCB assembly panel design process. These new milling checking options will virtually eliminate the incidence of milling errors in PCB assembly panel fabrication.
PCB Assembly Panel Documentation - PCB assembly panel documentation features were introduced to keep pace with user requests. These new features include panel specific document variables for use in creating custom dimensions and callouts. New panel specific dimension styles including panel coordinate dimensions and panel chamfer callouts. Additionally, the ability to associate (or pair) mill tabs and move them as a group. The new panel documentation features will facilitate creation of documentation with a greater set of requirements.
General Enhancements - BluePrint was significantly enhanced to support its expanding user base. Specific customer enhancements include automatic alignment of via graphics in stackup details, change a coordinate dimension to move the associated object, automated expansion of text boxes to accommodate large text strings, greater array of visibility settings for PCB and Design views and so much more.
Availability and Pricing
CAM350 Version 12.1 and BluePrint-PCB 5.1 are available now and are provided at no additional charge to all existing customers with a valid maintenance agreement. Actual content will vary based on end-users configuration. CAM350 12.1 pricing starts at $500.00 USD and BluePrint-PCB 5.1 pricing starts at $2,500.00 USD. For more information log onto downstreamtech.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact a DownStream local Value Added Reseller (VAR).
About DownStream Technologies
DownStream Technologies, LLC is a software and services company focused on helping engineering organizations optimize and automate the PCB Release Process. Our tools redefine how engineering professionals post-process PCB designs to create and distribute all the deliverables required for a complete PCB assembly release package. CAM350® provides verification, optimization and output generation to efficiently drive PCB fabrication. DFMStream® is a comprehensive, yet easy-to-use tool suite designed to help engineers and designers verify design and manufacturing rules on PCB design databases, Gerber and NC data any time during the PCB design cycle. BluePrint for Printed Circuit Boards® works with CAM350® (and other PCB CAD systems) to help users quickly produce comprehensive electronic drawings to drive PCB fabrication, assembly and inspection processes. More information about DownStream can be found at downstreamtech.com