Best free PCB design software 2023; Gone are the days PCB design was only for professionals.
Today, designing PCB has never been easier. That’s because there are several easy-to-use software that both beginners and experts can employ to produce customized, high-quality PCBs.
Check out our unbiased review of the best free PCB design software 2023.
Table of Contents
- PCB Design Software Guide: Factors to Consider When Choosing a Program
- 10 Best Free PCB Design Software
PCB Design Software Guide: Factors to Consider When Choosing a Program
To choose the best PCB design software, consider the following factors.
The platform, which includes the board materials, is central to a PCB project. Therefore, it’s essential to consider the specific materials forming the basis of your PCB platform.
Remember, creating a quality PCB is challenging because you have to pay attention to the program’s type, design, and quality. But a robust program can help you create a properly designed PCB to avoid any hitches in the assembly process.
A good PCB should provide sufficient board area for better accessibility. Therefore, always consider the shape and size of the board when choosing a program.
(Caption: Image of a circuit board)
Remember, circuit boards and electronic products used in manufacturing are becoming increasingly smaller with technological advancement.
So, choose an accessible PCB program with sufficient space. Also, the program should be easy to navigate, even for beginners.
Different PCBs exist, including single-sided (SS), double-sided (DS), rigid-flex, and multilayer. And your program choice will depend on how you intend to use the software.
Therefore, check whether the program’s customization features, such as orientation, silkscreen, and solder mask color options, meet your needs.
Level of Experience (PCB and Electronics)
Now the user’s level of experience will determine the complexity of your chosen PCB program. Therefore, consider your experience and then choose a program that’s easy to adopt and implement.
For example, for a beginner, a complex and elaborate PCB program can negatively impact adoption and mastery rates.
Level of Support for Special Applications
Undoubtedly, support for special applications determines the efficiency of your software program. For example, a reliable application should support applications that meet diverse needs.
Also, consider the manufacturer’s quality management system and room for continuous improvement to support special programs.
10 Best Free PCB Design Software
Here’s a review of ten of the best free PCB design software
Often, engineers use CircuitMarker for implementing small-scale PCB projects.
One of the amazing aspects of CircuitMarker is that it’s free for commercial and non-commercial projects. In addition, it boasts a vast library of components to meet your design needs.
- It’s effective an effective PCB tool
- It’s available for free and offers unlimited access to complete your PCB layout
- It’s a top choice for electronic circuit simulation
- Simple to learn
- It has a comprehensive library component
- Offers push-and-shove routing
- The component library requires regular updating
KiCad is a free cross-platform and open-source software for electronic design automation (EDA). Also, it boasts excellent features that make it one of the most-sought PCB designs, such as:
- Schematic editor
- Compatibility with different OS, including Windows, OS X, MacOS, and Linux
- Circuit editors create designs without limitations
- Supports multiple languages
- Wide library range of 3D models
(Caption: Image depicting software with many features)
- You can export netlists in different formats
- Has automatic electrical controls option check
- It can be complex for beginners
- Incomplete library
Although a freeware, EasyEDA is a user-friendly and powerful PCB design tool with many options and features. Also, it’s a simple tool that even those without much experience would find easy to navigate.
Further, EasyEDA has a clean and intuitive interface. Thus, it’s easy to maneuver through every step of the design process. In addition, this tool has an extensive library of components.
- Popular among hobbyists and creators
- Easy project management
- LCSC component catalog
- Not suitable for high-speed designs
Fritzing is another easy-to-use tool to create PCB designs with a professional outlook. And the software is free. In addition, it provides community interaction, and you can use it to document your prototype, design, share, create professional circuit boards, and teach electronics.
- It has an easy-to-use interface
- Big interactive community
- User-friendly even for users without prior experience
- The software has limited features
Fusion 360 is an integrated CAM, CAE, CAD, and PCB tool that mechanical engineers, designers, machinists, and electronic engineers can find very useful.
In addition, it enables users to deliver premium-quality products by allowing a connection between the design and manufacturer development processes.
While EasyEDA is not freeware, it has a free trial period
- User friendly
- Push-button simulation
- Offers unified electronics and PCB design
- Sheet metal part creation
- Flexible 3D modeling and design
(Caption: Image in 3D)
- Not available for free after the trials
Eagle is an electronic structural automation PCB design software. It allows users to create electronic schematic diagrams, route circuit boards, and component layouts.
In addition, this tool has advanced features that simplify the process of making complex circuits. Further, Eagle offers a limited free version option that you can use to implement small projects for your startup.
- Has a manageable online library
- Its templates include a 3D-printed PCB
- Features a real-time synchronization design
- Offers training and support resources
- The free version has many limitations
7. Osmond PCB
Osmond PCB has no limits or restrictions, and you can design boards of any shape and size with as many layers as you want. Additionally, it allows you to place parts with any orientation anywhere on the board.
- Easy to use
- Can define multiple copies with different orientations
- Supports pads of vast shapes and sizes
- Easy to cause damage when handling
As the name suggests, FreePCB is a freeware. And this open-source PCB editor for Windows is easy to learn and use and can produce high-quality work. In addition, it has several features, mainly:
- 1-16 copper layers
- Most functions use metric units or English
- Copper fill areas
- It has footprint libraries powered through Ivex Design International, IPC, and PCB Matrix
- Design Rule Checker
- It’s free
- It has a manageable library
- Its high amperage can ruin the circuit
- It’s limited to Windows
Altium outperforms most software tools with its elaborate design and ease of use. Also, its features help you create, simulate, and develop high-quality electronic products.
In addition, this tool incorporates vast design tools into a single location, creating efficiency and saving time for engineers. Thus, engineers can leverage this tool to document and convert electrical schematics into CAD data.
- It’s user-friendly
- Highly efficient
- Boasts of high-quality PCB design
- Speedy results
- It has a quick error-checking mechanism
- Supports Windows only
- It’s expensive for most users
10. Express PCB
ExpressPCB is a free PCB designing tool with two variants; Express PCB Classic and ExpressPCB Plus.
But the classic version is the 1998 original version the developer offers free of charge. It provides a schematic link to link your design using a minimal setup.
That way, you can save money and time. As for the Plus edition, it’s a complex toolset offering extra manufacturer options.
- Supports multilayer PCBs
- It offers training and in-depth tutorials
- Fast technical support
- Compatible with windows only
Best Free PCB Design Software 2023: Which Is the Easiest PCB Design Software?
Well, there are many PCB design software options available for you. But the best software for a beginner narrows down to your needs and preferences. Some popular options include Eagle, KiCad, Fritzing, Autodesk, and Eagle.
Best Free PCB Design Software 2023: Is PCB Design Software Free Download?
While some programs are free, others require a subscription. But to be more specific, some free PCB software is Altium, Altium 365, Fusion Checker, KiCad EDA, and Altium CircuitMaker.
Best Free PCB Design Software 2023: How Do You Design PCB For Free?
You can design PCB free by following these simple steps:
- First, understand the electrical parameters before you can create the schematics
- Second, leverage the schematic tool to create your PCB layout
- Now design your PCB stack up, then the requirements, and rules
- Next, place your components and insert drill holes
- Then, route traces and add identifiers and labels
- Finally, generate layout files
We hope you find our best free PCB design software list helpful. And you now know what to look out for in PCB design software, depending on your experience and needs.
But whether you’re a professional, learner, or beginner, accuracy and reliability are key, and you can find suitable software among the programs mentioned above.