Electronics Simulation: Printed Circuit Board Design

printed circuit board image

Printed Circuit Board

Engineering simulation or CAE (What Everybody Needs to Know About CAE), simply put, is a way to map the actual behavior of a real life system in a simulated environment in order to analyze the system when deployed. In the modern era, engineering simulation has evolved almost as a pre-requisite to any engineering task that needs to be done whether it is a printed circuit board, chip design or a structural analysis of a building to be constructed. Simulation software solutions have drastically improved in the past decade and you can now visualize your end product without much of a hassle. One of the most important goals of simulation has to be the visualization of your product.

The liberty to have a look at your product before even going into prototyping is the best privilege you can have. You can view your product in 3D, change its appearance, choose different materials and assess their impacts on different environments and much more. In some advanced simulation software solutions, you also have the liberty to create a scenario and put your product in it to see how it performs. Electronic simulation, mainly electronics cooling analysis,  has remarkably minimized the cost of development of projects. The availability of electronic components in the market and their frequency of usage play a key role when choosing electronic equipment. This facility is now available in a number of software tools when designing a PCB. In the end, you create a Bill of Materials which gives you the actual cost of manufacturing.

A Unique Simulation Software

Diverse projects require different tools or software. There are many simulation software solutions out there in the industry but what SimScale is unique. Being 100% cloud-based, it allows you to seamlessly simulate, share, and collaborate in a community of more than 70000 engineering professionals.

Mainly, its features include a comprehensive set of analysis capabilities for investigating Solid Mechanics, gives access to sophisticated Fluid Dynamics / CFD simulation capabilities, enables you to predict the behavior of your application under the influence of thermal effects (thermodynamics), and supports a complete simulation workflow starting with uploading your CAD model and meshing. Finally, it also gives you the liberty to either analyze the results online within the SimScale post-processing environment or download them.

And the key difference comparing it to other simulation software is that the whole analysis in done in your browser. Now let’s have a look at a PCB – printed circuit board design simulation performed with SimScale.

Transient Thermal Analysis of a Printed Circuit Board Design (PCB)

Transient heat transfer was selected as an analysis type since temperature and surface heat flux was assumed to change over time. There was a total of 9 chips on the printed circuit board each of which was tested in slightly different environments. Five out of 9 were given a temperature changing over time by uploading data tables, whereas other chips were given surface heat flux changing over time by also uploading data tables. In the pictures below, you can see the top and bottom view of the PCB under analysis. The temperature is indicated by a scale on the right of the picture. These images show the results of the temperature changing over time.

printed circuit board design simulationprinted circuit board design simulation back

The following 2 images show the results of the surface heat flux changing over time.

PCB design simulationPCB design analysis

For an individual analysis of the chips, a graph was drawn. Not only does it allows you to see the temperature change over time but it is also very useful for comparison of the individual components with each other.

temperature change in chips

In the end, the simulation was run for 300 seconds (5 minutes) and the figure below shows the animation of the final result. With this analysis, the printed circuit board design was virtually tested and analyzed in order to make the required improvements. After a simulation or a set of simulations, the CAD design will be changed according to the results and analyzed again with SimScale until a final version would be approved.

There is much more that can be done with SimScale, this is just one example. If you’re interested in learning more, sign up for the 14-day free trial.

Also, I invite you to read more on the topic on engineering simulation applied in electronics in the following articles:

Fluid Mechanics Measurements in Real-World Environments

Electronics Optimization with SimScale

Electronics Simulation – 5 Secrets for Product Performance

SimScale is the world's first cloud-based simulation platform, enabling you to perform CFD, FEA, or thermal analyses. Sign up for the 14-day free trial and join the community of 70 000 engineers and designers. No payment data required.