Altair Users Gets a Library of Prebuilt Electronics Components

As products become smarter, every simulation user needs models to common electronic components.

Simulation engineers are the most valuable when they’re designing new parts or simulating new systems. However, they can get bogged down in less important but still necessary details, like tracking down a CAD model.

For more than a decade, parametric CAD companies have been building design libraries of components and letting users create their own libraries. A CAD designer working on hydraulic systems, for instance, has a common set of components they use from a small handful of manufacturers. Instead of recreating the CAD models of each of these parts when making a new system design, those part models are available in a library, which can save a designer effort and time. Taking this a step further, manufacturers realized that if their specific brand of component models were available for their customers, then the customers might be more likely to use their brand.

Examples of an Ultra Librarian schematic and footprint. (Image: Ultra Librarian.)

Examples of an Ultra Librarian schematic and footprint. (Image: Ultra Librarian.)

More and more engineers are adding electronic components to their systems designs. This is fueled by market and consumer demands for smarter, more optimized products. As a result, there is a demand for engineers to have access to model libraries of electronic components, even if libraries of mechanical components were at one time sufficient.

To that end, Ultra Librarian has served electronics design engineers in a similar way that the CAD libraries have served mechanical engineers. And it is now offering its library of 16 million symbols, footprints and 3D models to Altair users.

What to Expect from Altair and Ultra Librarian

The electrification of everything is still moving forward at a rapid speed. Electric vehicles and autonomous vehicle systems are driving much of that growth, but connected products in all sectors are going to continue to need electrical systems and components. Simulation engineers will need to design and verify these systems. By making a library of these components available to engineers, Altair and Ultra Librarian are opening the door for many companies to upgrade their designs.

Altair users gets access to more than 16 million symbols, footprints and 3D models to use in its electronics CAD (ECAD) and other models. The primary Altair products that can use the library include Altair PollEx, Altair SimLab and Altair One UDE.

Ultra Librarian allows users to choose from a huge catalog of electronics components to pull symbols, footprints and parametric models. So, when these engineers run multiphysics studies, thermal studies and structural simulations, they can all take advantage of the part library without leaving the Altair environment. In return, Ultra Librarian gets exposure to Altair’s 13,000 global customers and the opportunity to form strong relationships with them.

What Does This Mean for Engineers?

Printed circuit board (PCB) designers and engineers will see the most immediate benefit from this partnership, but any electronics simulation workers could feel the impact. Pulling information from a singular source eliminates the need for designers to work from manufacturer specifications, hastily scribbled notes or blurry snapshots sent from designers to simulation engineers via email. The information that Ultra Librarian provides will help engineers to lay out PCBs, design the flow from input to output and save enough space for each component.

Altair’s Chief Technology Officer Sam Mahalingam said, “Integrating Ultra Librarian into Altair tools is a massive step for our ECAD verification and multiphysics solutions, which will give users more power than ever before. Now, users have access to verified Ultra Librarian CAD models directly from within Altair desktop applications and cloud-based systems.”

Every company’s culture is different—larger companies might have research and development engineers wholly separate from the simulation engineers and in a different department from the design and verification engineers. Smaller companies might have one engineer sitting at one terminal working all these job functions at the time. Transferring information back and forth between job functions is a possible source of errors and a definite source of wasted time. If we’re trusting engineers to run simulation and verification on the design of electrical components, we should understand that their time is valuable and better spent moving toward innovation instead of verification.

There are a few different companies that host online part libraries like Ultra Librarian. With most of these libraries, users can access the information for free, meaning that after a learning curve to understand the file formats and import process, simulation engineers should start saving time. A company taking advantage of these libraries can theoretically see a boost in engineer efficiency and either have more time to run additional studies or free up one or two employees to move into a new product line.

What the Future Might Look Like

The next logical leap for technology like this is modular electronics simulations and design. In other words, engineers could pull all the electronics properties from a component into a system design in a functional way—instead of just getting that information though embedded files.

What would this look like? A simulation engineer could pick and place components in an assembly or system and have all the electrical connections set up and ready for analysis.

Like many what-if scenarios, the looming figure of artificial intelligence (AI) is also a wild card that could bring huge technology leaps to this process. For instance, AI could automatically populate or optimize an engineer’s designs based on common layouts of the chosen components.

These modular analysis capabilities are becoming more likely with each step forward in simulation technology. The hope is that simulation engineers will become more efficient and productive but also have more time to innovate in completely new directions.