AltiumLive 2022: MacroFab Unifies Design and Manufacturing in One Domain
I recently spoke with Joey Rodriguez, Director of Product Management for MacroFab, who just announced a major partnership with Altium that brings supply chain insights to Altium users much earlier in the product lifecycle. design. Joey and I discussed his AltiumLive presentation, now available online, which provides details on MacroFab’s efforts to “shift left” supply chain information, and the need for designers to think about holistically to the supply chain as early as possible in the design cycle.
Andy Shaughnessy: How are you, Joey?
Joey Rodriguez: I’m fine, Andy. Thank you for.
Shaughnessy: Tell us a bit about MacroFab.
Rodríguez: MacroFab is an electronics manufacturing platform, and there are several aspects to the business. It starts as a way for companies designing hardware products to upload their designs from EDA tools, like Altium, into a digital realm while getting quotes, prices, and lead times to manufacture products in the real world. , whether prototypes or production volumes. We do this through software, virtualizing all of the physical and manufacturing, tapping into the supply chain and factories, and understanding what it takes to build the product.
Shaughnessy: Tell us about your AltiumLive presentation.
Rodríguez: The presentation covers the different types of real-time manufacturing feedback that the MacroFab platform can provide engineers at any stage of the hardware product development lifecycle they are at. It’s not necessarily focused on basic engineering technical design decisions, but on things to keep in mind in the world we live in, with supply chains out of whack and the various decisions you can take while you design that will help you navigate uncertainty.
Shaughnessy: What are some of the key points you hope to get across?
Rodríguez: Start early, even in the prototype phase. As you realize, there are decisions you make during the initial idea phase that have a cascading effect as your product matures. One of the most important things is that the design decisions you make will have an impact and can be quantified over time. The longer it takes to physically build a product, the more cost inefficient it can become as you move into production.
Shaughnessy: Law. There’s a lot of emphasis on shifting left, as they call it, doing more planning and catching your mistakes earlier in the process.
Shaughnessy: So why was it important to the participants?
Rodríguez: Products are constantly changing and often companies are only rated on how quickly they can get to market. Can you hit the price targets you want and can you hit the quality you want?
Companies at the forefront of hardware product development are going back to the drawing board and looking for new ways to design products and bring them to market. Companies that want to succeed in this new economy are going to be much more distributed and will need tools like the MacroFab platform that give them real-time supply chain insights and to understand what it takes to manufacture in the real world. This is going to be a competitive differentiator for companies to figure out how to integrate this into their development process.
Shaughnessy: Well, and it’s also good that you put engineers, designers, and manufacturers on the same page early on because often those lines of communication aren’t necessarily open.
Rodríguez: That’s right. We have EDA software that has come a long way in terms of being able to design and understanding things that can affect quality. But what was missing was a connection between design intent and manufacturing. It’s a different world physically to make a product. Here with Altium we are launching this new automated service where we will be integrated with the Altium design tool.
Altium’s new feature includes the MacroFab platform quoting engine built into the platform; it is an automated service. Engineers will be able to understand what it takes, how much it costs to manufacture a product, and how long it takes, right from the design tool they already use.
Engineers will physically lay out their board. And, what’s different is that they can go to manufacturing without having to export any files. No chance of sending the wrong files to an install and getting the wrong thing or any other kind of mishaps that may occur in this type of ad hoc communication.
Shaughnessy: It’s good that you take action out of the process. We have seen that each step in the process is a chance for data to be entered incorrectly or for an error to be made.
I think they basically expand on Altium’s earlier ecosystem approach, which is good. So they finish their design in Altium and then what happens?
Rodríguez: This Altium product even removes the need to download files, as everything happens natively. We leverage our knowledge of the supply chain to understand questions, like how long will this product take? We will give you a few different prices. Do I want this in 10 days, or is this more of a production level product where I can predict delivery and a 1-2 month delivery is acceptable?
We will go through the DFX and DFM checks on our end to make sure we can craft this card successfully. And we have all these algorithms running in the background to figure it out. We review your design down to the component level, as we have a network of over 75 factories that we work with. We match your particular design to the right factory and ensure you get the results you are looking for and use intelligence and software to drive some of that decision making.
Shaughnessy: What are some of the takeaways for attendees?
Rodríguez: Mainly, that it’s important to think holistically about design. For better or worse, engineers must consider more than the technical performance parameters of the product. Now they also have to design with the supply chain in mind.
For example, we recommend that engineers, when developing their product BOM, have a solid list of alternatives – five, maybe even more – so that, inevitably, if they run out of stock, we have the choice. The beauty of platforms like MacroFab is that we have a huge list of alternatives, plus we have your design intent. We can take strategic steps to ensure that we mitigate the risk to you while we manufacture this product.
Shaughnessy: Thank you for speaking with us.
Rodríguez: With pleasure, Andy.
See Joey Rodriguez’s presentation Real-time manufacturing feedback in the Macro Fab Platform below.