Shenzhen Huaqiu Electronics Co., Ltd, better known as NextPCB, is a PCB manufacturer with multiple factories in China, and that has been around for over 15 years. During this time, the company dealt with thousands of engineering problems of PCB leading to higher prices and delayed schedules.
So to help its customers, the company has developed NextDFM software to detect common PCB design problems, and ultimately help engineers to build low-cost and high-efficiency PCB projects. DFM stands for “Design For Manufacturability”, glad you asked.
NextPCB is a free download that’s available for Windows only for now, but the company is also working on Linux and Mac OS versions that will be released in the future.
The software supports generic Gerber files as well as PCB layout files from EDA programs such as Altium, Pads, and Protel99SE. Once your file is loaded in the program you’d be able to run the simulator to see what the top and bottom sides of your PCB would look like with different colors and other settings, while the “automative tool” allows you to customize panelization, and calculate utilization rate, routing distance, and soldering pads.
But the most impressive features of NextDFM software is probably the One-Click Analysis feature that helps designer unearth hidden design problems, provide low-cost optimization solutions, and professional PCB Layout suggestions as demonstrated in the video below.
All checked items are clearly marked with in color-coded user interface with green (pass), orange (warning), and red (more serious error that needs to be fixed). As you’re fixing errors and warnings, or simply modifying your design, you’ll also see real-time pricing (estimated) for your board, which should help you optimize the costs of the PCB.
One weak point of the software is that documentation is currently only available via short video tutorials, and the “Training Center” is still empty, but I’m sure this will be addressed shortly.