Creating a PCB Footprint Library in Altium Designer

When placing your printed circuit board, it is very important to create a footprint for each of your components. Some components are quite common or come in standard packages. This makes it easier to find footprints. In some cases, you may need to create your own footprint and use the information directly in the component's datasheet. Keep in mind that if you don't draw your footprint the way it should, the pins of your components may not align with pcb pads. In this case, it will lead to significant time loss and additional cost.

Footprint

At this point, Altium Designer has multiple ways to design footprints. The first will be an application that automatically draws the desired footprint according to the values we give. At Altium Designer, this system is called the IPC compliant footprint wizard. In fact, this system can really make our job easier. Nevertheless, remember that drawing by hand on our own is generally the most reliable way.

IPC Compliant Footprint Wizard

The IPC Compliant footprint Wizard creates an IPC standard compliant component footprint. Instead of working from footprint dimensions, the IPC Compliant footprint Wizard uses dimensional information from the component itself in accordance with the standards issued by the IPC.

Instead of asking you to enter the properties of pads and tracks used to define footprint, the wizard retrieves the actual component dimensions as input. Based on formulas developed for the IPC-7351 standard, the Wizard then creates its footprint using standard Altium Designer objects, such as pads and pallets.

Footprint
IPC Compliant Footprint Wizard

This is the first place we come across when we enter our siharbaz. We're going through here by pressing next. Immediately afterwards, we will come across the choice point of cover. There, choose your case with real care.

Footprint
sheath selection

At this point, we make our choice according to the composition. After making our choice, in general, every case has certain standards as we know it. There may be some minor changes depending on the component only. At this point, it is in your best interest to carefully examine the datasheet of the component you are drawing so that you do not make mistakes regardless. So what page do we need to look at in datasheet? As we know, some datasheets can even find hundreds of thousands of pages.

At this point, let's continue through the visuals.

Footprint

This is the first place we come across after selecting the case according to the component. At this point, we need to open that important page directly in datasheet and enter the values accordingly.

Footprint
An image from datasheet
Footprint
An image from datasheet

In fact, when we look at these images carefully, we can easily find all the dimension values requested from us. The values of these sheaths generally remain the same, but as we say, they can change. Whatever happens, it's in your best interest to be careful.

At this point, layer selection will be the next stage. At this point, you can make mechanical 3 the layer that determines the outer boundaries of your footprint, even if there are different uses from person to person.

Footprint

Then we can finish our footprint design by adding names and descriptions. In fact, using the IPC footprint wizard is as simple as that. After that, you can save this footprint anywhere you want and use it necessarily.

How to Create Your Own Footprint in Altium Designer

Create your component footprint in Altium Designer by following these 4 steps:

  • Create pads
  • Define the lengths and area of the component
  • Add STEP information
  • Save Footprint

Let's take a step-by-step look at the process to see how easy it can be to create a component footprint.

Create pads

At this point, datasheet will be everything to us. Because all kinds of pad formations, lengths, etc. that we will determine during the design will proceed completely depending on the datasheet. In this case, the first thing we will have to do is know what we really want in datasheet. Because for those who don't know how to read, datasheet is a problem in itself.

As we have already mentioned in an image above, we are opening the same page from the datasheette. This point, this time we start from the drawing of our pads. The necessary lengths, distance between them, etc. are included there.

Here we can start the design after determining the necessary distance units. First, we create a blank component footprint area by clicking Add in our PCB lib file. Then we press P and quickly click on the pad section. Now we can start installing the pads.

Footprint
Pad Selection

So how do we know where and how to place it? Here's the answer to your question.

Footprint

Actually, it's as simple as that. It just takes a little practice and time. You'll get used to it day by day. And when we pour it into Altiuma, what's the result?

Footprint

At this point, after the first pad is placed, other pads are placed, paying attention to the unit of the grid. Then attention should be paid to layer arrangement. If you really want to make a professional design, you should pay great attention to these layer selections.

Footprint

At this point, we actually realized that pcb footprint drawing is not so difficult. But let's get into this Layer topic a little bit more.

Mechanical Layers

Layer Details

Below is a list of layers you might want to consider. Below you will see that some layers are listed. It is best for you to follow the path according to whichever of these you need to use.

M01_BoardTemplate_Top

Board block and border. Only information about all layers should be placed on this page. When printing or creating PDFs that do not require mirroring, this page should be opened as one of the layers.

M02_BoardTemplate_Bottom.

Again, the Board block and border are used only for the bottom. This is used to reflect any of the layers in the output. Make sure that the information added to M01_BoardTemplate_Top is also added to the M02 template page. When printing or creating a PDF for the bottom of the PCB, enable this layer and enable mirroring. This will ensure that the information is read

m03_notes

This page should contain all important notes on the manufacture and installation of the design.

M04_PCBoutlineOnly

This layer should not contain only the outlines of the PCB (including cuts) and nothing else. The template must not contain notes or dimensions. The manufacturer uses this to obtain certain dimensions of the board. The manufacturer will deleteadditional information about this layer during installation.

M05_StackDetails.

This layer contains stack information for the layer.

M06_BOM

This layer contains the bill of materials. Although it is not normally made when the board contains hundreds of components, it makes it easy for smaller boards to be a quick visual.

M07_Drill

This layer contains all the detail information, including the va types. Note that charts, such as drill graphs, can be placed on this layer.

M08_ComponentMech_Top

It is used to help 3D bodies and STEP component projections in the upper layer. Library footprints must fit this layer for 3D component bodies (includes STEP). This layer must be mapped to the M09 layer.

M09_ComponentMech_Bottom

It is used to help 3D bodies and STEP component projections in the lower layer. This layer must be mechanically mapped to the M08 layer. If a component is turned to the underside of the board, the body must also be moved from the M08 to the M09.

M10_BoardMech1

It should be used for 3D bodies and STEP component projections related to boards that are not associated with footprints.

M11_BoardMech2

It should be used for 3D bodies and STEP component projections related to boards that are not associated with footprints.

M12_Assembly_Top

The mounting layer shows the centroids of the component and the pin 1 position for the top of the card. Library footprints must fit this layer. This layer must be mapped to the M13 layer. Additional notes and information can be added to this layer.

M13_Assembly_Bottom

The mounting layer shows the centroids of the component and the pin 1 position for the lower part of the board. This layer must be mapped to the M12 layer. If a component is turned to the bottom of the card, the installation information on the M12 must also be moved from the M12 to the M13. Additional notes and information can be added to this layer.

M14_Courtyards_Top

Courtyards help with the initial placement of components. Unlike 3D bodies, they can take into account the required distance for outputs and other mechanical needs. This layer must be mapped to the M15 layer. The outlines of the Board should be drawn. Additional notes and information can be added to this layer.

M15_Courtyards_Bottom

Courtyards help with the initial placement of components, as described for the M14. This layer must be mapped to the M14 layer. If a component is turned to the bottom of the card, information about the M15 must also be moved from the M14 to the M15.

M16_BoardDetails_Top

All dimensions or details specific to the top of the Board are entered on this page.

M17_BoardDetails_Bottom

All dimensions or details specific to the bottom of the Board are entered on this page.

M18_S lk_Top

Although the top silk is given its own layer in most PCB tools, this layer allows additional information to be added without affecting the silk layer itself.

M19_S lk_Bottom

Although the lower silk is given its own layer in most PCB tools, this layer allows additional information to be added without affecting the silk layer itself.

Footprint
Grouping layers

Now that we have a general knowledge of the layers, we can proceed.

Inserting a STEP File

At this point, it's actually really easy. First, we need to import the step file that we found ready from the internet or designed ourselves into our PCB footprint library. Since we will understand the best visuals of how this is done, let's go it again.

First, we click on the Place tab on the tabs above. Then we can import it as we like from the 3D Body area.

Footprint
3D Body Import

Then we can place the step file we want with our mouse as we like, since we have chosen it. Please note that the pins of the 3D part in the STEP file you have put in at this point overlap with your PADs and there is no conflict. And in this way, you can make sure that the footprint you draw is correct.

Footprint
3D Part Placement

Immediately afterwards, you can easily save your footprint. Your library is now ready for use.

Footprint