PCB Design, Digital Twin, and Digital Transformation
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PCB Design, Digital Twin, and Digital Transformation

Aug 14, 2023

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There’s been a lot of talk lately about digital twin and its use in PCB fabrication and assembly. Manufacturers have been quick to get onboard the digital twin train.

But what about PCB designers and design engineers? Can the front-end folks benefit from digital twin? We asked David Wiens, Xpedition product manager for Siemens Digital Industries Software, to weigh in on this topic. He’s been involved with digital twin for years, and he explained what digital twin can potentially offer to PCB design, and why he believes designers have been using digital twin for decades, whether they realize it or not.

Andy Shaughnessy: David, let’s start by sharing your thoughts on PCB designers and digital twin. What exactly is a digital twin?

David Wiens: Designers have always been working with twins of what is manufactured. You know, even designers working with mylar tape had a twin; it was just a physical twin. Since then, we've moved to digital twins and steadily increased the fidelity of that twin. Originally, it was just digitizing, and there was no intelligence. I came all the way from Intergraph, and we started with a mechanical design system. We were digitizing artwork in a mechanical environment, and it didn't have much electrical intelligence. Now, there is a lot of intelligence that comes along with the digital twin, and that enables the engineering team to make much smarter decisions. We wrote a series of columns on digital transformation for Design007 Magazine that ended December of last year.

If you think of a digital twin at the highest level, it's the entire system. A digital twin of an airplane represents the entire airplane, but it also represents all the bits inside, including the electronics, the cabling, and everything else that connects it. A digital twin of a system represents a hierarchy of smaller digital twins. If you want to build a real digital twin, you have to build a digital twin of the environment for that aircraft as well.

To read this entire conversation, which appeared in the August 2023 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.

Andy Shaughnessy:David Wiens: