Will PLM vendors keep acquiring PCB design tools?

Will PLM vendors keep acquiring PCB design tools?

Electronics and PCB are growing. Almost every product manufactured today has some elements of electronics and PCB board inside. It leads to complexity in design, manufacturing and supply chain. ReadIT quick article – Why PCB Design Software is Proving So Vital to Modern Circuit Board Ingenuity gives you an interesting insight on an increased importance of PCB design tool for product design and manufacturing. I captured the following passage:

According to the latest data released by Future Market Insights (FMI), the global market for PCB design software is set to witness a CAGR of more than 12% between 2016 and 2026 to rake in $4,755.1 million in revenues by the end of the forecast period.

Needless to say, PCB design software eliminates issues faster and significantly reduces circuit board debugging time as compared to other traditional technologies. Therefore, to cut down on development time and avoid project delays, the electronic industry is rapidly adopting the latest versions of PCB design software. Undoubtedly, the consumer electronics industry is the primary end-user of PCB design software. Owing to the rise of smart wearable devices and smartphones, which require highly sophisticated circuit board designs, the use of PCB design software has become widespread in such electronic manufacturing segments.

Moreover, such software allows engineers to run simulations that can help them identify real-time issues associated with applying the circuit. There are several other tasks such as testing error tolerance, input signals, and reaching the desired output that can be effortlessly accomplished through PCB design software.

For the last few years, we can see an increased interest from PLM and MCAD vendors to invest into relationships with PCB toolmakers. It happens on all levels. Here are 3 examples:

1/ Autodesk acquires Eagle PCB design tool. Here is the link to Autodesk article with Q&A. It sounds almost obvious in the article that mechanical things and the board will finally come together.

Why CadSoft?  Why Autodesk?  Why now? So an obvious question is “Why?  …Why did Autodesk acquire CadSoft?  Why now?  And what does Autodesk have in store for EAGLE?” The acquisition of EAGLE marks a new phase in not just EAGLE’s development, but in Autodesk’s as well.  You see, we’re serious about becoming the standard for the design and manufacture of the whole product / widget / whathaveyou and this move into electronics is the next big frontier in our development as that company.  So where in the past we’ve had amazing tools for mechanical design, 2D CAD, additive manufacturing, subtractive / CNC, even media and entertainment; the acquisition of EAGLE marks our push into the next big frontier:  the board.

2/ Solidworks is creating PCB production in partnership with Altium. You can learn about it from Solidworks article here – Solidworks PCB powered by Altium.

SOLDWORKS PCB is focused on bringing the best of both worlds together. Do what you do best in SOLIDWORKS CAD, and let SOLIDWORKS PCB handle all of your PCB design needs which was engineered specifically for SOLIDWORKS® collaboration. We’ve combined the best technology in PCB design with an easy-to-use interface and linked it with SOLIDWORKS CAD to give you an efficient design experience that gets your PCBs done quickly and easily — just what you need when PCBs are only a part of your product design workflow.

Altium went very bold in some of their presentation about PLM-like process development tools in the future supported by Altium. Here are few screenshots I captured in the recent Altium presentation done for investors – link.

3/ Siemens PLM acquired Mentor Graphics. It was a very big event, I’m sure you had a chance to read about before. Check my earlier blog about it – EDA merge into PLM.

Looking at the acquisition in terms of financial growth, there is no doubt Siemens as a whole will see a revenue growth and margin expansion, but there are several benefits related to strategy, software portfolio and technical expertise that Siemens PLM will receive after Mentor Graphics becomes part of its portfolio. Strategically, this acquisition fits with Siemens 2020 vision, which is inline with the changing demands of the customers that need smart, connected products. Siemens PLM has been working for a few years to build and enhance its portfolio of products that address the issues that multidisciplinary manufacturers tackle.In 2012, Siemens PLM had acquired LMS International to enhance its simulation capabilities and extend its mechatronics portfolio. Its Mechatronics Concept Designer in NX also helps companies looking for systems engineering solution.

What is my conclusion? There is a consolidation process between PLM and EDA vendors. PCB design toolmakers can be a target for PLM vendors to acquire. My hunch PCB and EDA vendors have developed PLM – like vision. They just don’t call it PLM. And MCAD-PLM vendors are actually cannot live in the silo of MCAD and mechanical design anymore. Products are getting more complex and it is hard and sometimes impossible to separate design and product development processes between mechanical, electronic and PCB design. Will PLM vendors target to acquire remaining EDA-PCB design vendors and create multi-disciplinary PLM vision? It could be an interesting transformation to watch. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased

Image credit Solidworks blog


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