The powerful open source electronic design suite is finally available in final version LibrePCB. Designed to be accessible to everyone, regardless of the operating system used, LibrePCB provides a complete development environment to create electronic schematics and printed circuits quickly and easily.
The software is compatible with a wide range of operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS. It also supports different CPU architectures, such as Intel/AMD x86, ARM and Apple M1. It is also available in 16 languages, including Europen.
What it is and what are the main features of LibrePCB
LibrePCB is distributed below GPLv3 license and is available on GitHub: users can download the official versions for the most popular operating systems or compile the program from source if they intend to use it on specific platforms.
The application comes as a prominent option for i electronic designers with any level of ability and skills: it is therefore suitable for both beginners and professionals. In a world where many tools in the same category are severely limited, for various reasons, LibrePCB stands out for its accessibility, its versatility and its completeness.
The library management it goes beyond the simple collection of symbols and graphic references. The libraries, in fact, are organized in a semantic way, simplifying their use and removing many of the problems typically encountered with other electronic design tools. Furthermore, files created with LibrePCB are easily readable: this allows the use of version control systems. The application itself does not include default libraries, allowing users to install and update libraries independently of the application.
LibrePCB also offers a tool to command line (
librepcb-cli) which simplifies the automation of tasks and saves precious time. A particularly useful aspect in contexts of continuous integration (CI).
What’s new in the final version of LibrePCB
The authors of the LibrePCB project explain that one of the main objectives of the first major release (1.0.0) was to eliminate someone limitations which previously made the software unsuitable for many complex PCB designs.
Thanks to new features intab editorcome i “Thermal relief pads“, the “Blind & Buried Vias“, plated and non-plated slots, exclusion zones and freely customizable PCB pads, LibrePCB is ready to tackle projects of any complexity.
I Thermal relief pads they are used in the copper layers of the printed circuit board to facilitate heat dissipation. They are especially important for connections to the pins of those components that generate heat (such as power chips). These thermal pads they are connected using insulated traces, thus reducing thermal conductivity and facilitating the soldering process during assembly.
With the term viasthe authors of LibrePCB refer to the holes used in printed circuit boards: le Blind Vias they are holes that go from one layer of the card to another without crossing the entire card; the Buried Vias they are holes positioned within the layer of the card, not visible from the surface.
The keepout zones or “exclusion zones,” are the areas on a PCB where you are not allowed to place components or conductors. They are used to ensure that certain areas of the board are free from components or traces, for example to avoid electromagnetic interference or to respect safety distances.
Integrated 3D viewer, part number and variant management
Another big step forward is the introduction of a 3D viewer realistic. LibrePCB users can examine the PCB design in detail, benefiting from accurate rendering of copper layers, solder resist and screen printing. If you have STEP models assigned to your packages in the library, these will be rendered realistically in the 3D viewer. You can even export the entire PCB as a STEP model for use in mechanical CAD.
With the introduction of part number management (MPN) directly in the library, the program simplifies the process of inserting electronic components into various schematics. LibrePCB is in fact able to export the list of components (Bill of MaterialsBOM), providing a complete list of the material needed to make any PCB.
The application also ensures the ability to define mounting variants to easily create multiple versions of the same project. For example, you can define variants that exclude specific components in some of the product versions.