Top 10 +1 Free PCB Design Software for 2021
After the official birth of commercial EDA since 1981, different design software as been produced from the EDA industry. Printed Circuit Boards, also known as PCBs, are the foundation of any hardware-based product. Before EDA software, Engineers usually designed electronics circuitry and integrated circuits by hand or some other manual process.
There are several PCB software out there, some which are free, while others are premium. It could be a daunting task choosing from several tens of software in the market. When selecting a design package to use, it is always advisable to use some of the latest tools with available support and community. In the EDA industry, some of the best and most popular tools are mostly not free. Nevertheless, there are still a couple of powerful free ones. In this article, I will highlight some of the best free PCB design software you can find for designing your printed circuit board layout, and hopefully, this list will help you to pick what works for you.
1. Autodesk Eagle
Eagle is arguably one of the most well know schematics and PCB design software. Formerly known as Cadsoft Eagle, but now called Autodesk Eagle after its purchase from Autodesk. Autodesk EAGLE contains a schematic editor, for designing circuit diagrams and a PCB layout editor for designing PCBs. It provides component placement, PCB routing, a comprehensive library content, a thriving community, and many more.
A free version of Autodesk EAGLE is available called EAGLE FREE. EAGLE is now only available with a Fusion 360 subscription. It includes 2 schematic sheets, 2 signal layers, and an 80cm2 board area.
Eagle is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac. More information about Eagle is available on the product page.
KiCAD is a Cross-Platform and Open Source Electronics Design Automation Suite. It includes a schematic editor for creating and editing schematic designs, a PCB Editor for making professional PCB layouts with up to 32 copper layers, and a 3D viewer which can be used to inspect the design in a 3D form. Unlike Eagle, KiCAD is entirely free, and no paywall is needed to use some of its features.
KiCAD is available on Windows, Linux, and Mac. More information about KiCAD is available on the product page.
Just like KiCAD, Fritzing is an open-source platform for learning electronics. Fritzing became popular with its examples of Arduino and its an easy to use platform. Fritzing includes a breadboard layout, schematic, and PCB view for designing a PCB layout for your board. With a rich interface and growing community, fritzing is a good choice among hobbyists.
The software is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac. More information is available on the product page.
4. DesignSpark PCB
With an arguable easy-to-learn environment, with a schematics capture and PCB layout tool, DesignSpark PCB is one of the EDA tools to try out. It is free, comes with an excellent schematic capture, PCB editor for designing an unlimited number of PCB layers, a part and library creator, 3D views, and many more features.
DesignSpark PCB is only available for Windows. More information is available on the product page.
EasyEDA is a free and a paid EDA tool. EasyEDA provides a powerful schematic capture, PCB editor, Libraries designer, a project management tool, and lastly a team collaborator. EasyEDA also has an integration with LCSC.com component catalog for providing real-time stocks and pricing information about components used.
EasyEDA is online based and also desktop based. It is cross-platform and supports Windows, Linux, and Mac. More information is available on the product page.
Upverter is a web-based EDA just like EasyEDA for enabling hardware engineers to design, share, and review schematics and PCBs (Printed Circuit Boards). It does for open-source hardware design what GitHub have done for open-source software development, providing a collaboration platform. It comes with a schematics capture, PCB editor, a system designer, 3D viewer, team collaboration, and many more. More information about the platform is available here.
7. PCBWeb Designer
PCBWeb is a free CAD application for designing and manufacturing electronics hardware. It features a schematic capture for multi-sheet design, PCB layout support multi-layers, and an integrated arrow parts catalog.
PCBWeb is available only for Windows. More information is available on the platform site.
8. ExpressPCB Plus
ExpressPCB Plus is an EDA software for creating and designing of electronics circuitry. It includes ExpressSCH Classic for drawing schematics and ExpressPCB Plus for circuit board layout. ExpressPCB Plus provides the option to see the instant quotes for your PCB board and even order the board for fabrication from inside the program itself.
ExpressPCB is available for use on Windows, Linux, and Mac. More information is available on the product page.
TinyCAD is a simple and basic electronic circuit schematic and PCB designer. It is an open-source software project. It supports standard and custom symbol libraries. It supports PCB layout programs with several netlist formats and can also produce SPICE simulation netlists.
TinyCAD is only available in the Windows version. More information is available on the download page.
10. Osmond PCB
Osmond PCB is an only MAC-based EDA tool. It supports schematic capture and PCB layout design. The software provides many features such as unlimited board sizes, multiple board layers, and can be used to design boards up to 700 pins.
More information about the software is available here.
11. CircuitMaker by ALTIUM
Circuitmaker is a unique combination of the broad design community, a free PCB Design software, and services, that allow everyone to work on the same premise and share the knowledge with ease. The CircuitMaker PCB Design Editor has all the power you need to design high-quality schematics and layout, with no artificial limits on layer counts or board area. CircuitMaker gives you the freedom of design with up to 16 signal + 16 plane layers and no restrictions to the PCB dimensions. You can share your project with only authors of your choice or with the entire community. Altium Native 3D™ technology means that when you’re in the PCB editor, just press the 3 key and you can immediately see the PCB layout in full 3D. It seems one of the most complete PCB design software that is available for free.
more information: https://www.altium.com/circuitmaker
Feel free to share your own favorite EDA tool or suggest what you think might be better on this list. If you are interested in learning how to make your first printed circuit board, then tread the “Making Your First Printed Circuit Board.”
For a larger collection of PCB design software check under: https://www.electronics-lab.com/downloads/pcb/