Digi-Key and Mentor Graphics Corp. today announced a collaboration that hopes to close the gap between free, but poorly featured, and expensive, high-end EDA/CAD PC board design tools. The new tools will be linked with Digi-Key's online parts offerings to ensure that engineers are designing for easy procurement and manufacturing.
"Digi-Key and Mentor Graphics are fortunate to have carved certain niches in our industries," Randall Restle, director of Applications Engineering at Digi-Key, told EBN. "We wanted to find synergistic things to do together and came to the problem of adopting new technology."
The tools help designers reduce the possibility of product errors and confusion between design and manufacture, Restle says. "We often have problems receiving an order simply because the part number wasn't entered correctly. Meanwhile, Mentor is the largest provider of design automation tools, and their tools help designers ensure the parts being bought fit the boards they are buying."
Designer Schematic, priced at $299 per year, offers design capture capabilities to streamline the creation of PCB schematics. Designer Layout, meanwhile, costs $649 and provides PCB design capabilities, including routing, editing, and more. Both support up to 1,500 connections. A bundle of both products will be sold for $864.
"We chose to make these separate tools so engineering firms do not have to encumber themselves with a layout tool if they outsource layout," says Restle.
The tools will be sold exclusively through Digi-key, via an annual subscription. During the first 90 days, the distributor will offer a 30-percent discount, offering the tools at $199 and $449, respectively, and the bundle for $599. Also, for a limited time, the software is available for a free 15-day evaluation period.
The companies believe that these new tools will attract a new breed of designers in the "maker market segment," says Jim Martens, product marketing manager at Mentor Graphics. "These people, even if they aren't professionals, are doing tough, complex designs. This segment is typically served by free or low-cost tools, which are limited in capabilities."
With purchase of the tools, engineers will also receive access to Mentor Graphics' PartQuest website. The site will be served by Digi-Key's part search engine to give engineers access to an inventory of over 4 million electronic components. The PartQuest site will also offer designers PCB reference designs.