Catching up With Tom Hausherr of PCB Libraries


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In the past year, I stopped procrastinating about attending my local chapter meetings of the IPC Designers Council in Southern California. My friend Scott McCurdy of Freedom CAD had been gently nudging me for months before I finally made it to my first meeting back in March. Scott has been running the Orange County DC Chapter for 12 years and has turned it into the largest chapter in the country. Knowing this, I was still shocked when I walked into a room packed with 77 people. Furthermore, I was captivated by the speaker for that day, Tom Hausherr of PCB Libraries.

I know little about the dynamics that go into component libraries, since my tenure has been in the fabrication and assembly side of the business. Yet, Tom’s information was clear and accessible—even to me. On that day, I made a new friend and became a fan of Tom’s. So, when fate placed us both at PCB West, we made sure to carve out some time together. Tom agreed to have a long breakfast with me so I could learn more about the challenges related to component libraries and how his company addresses these issues. So, pull up a chair and join us for a chat.


Judy Warner: Tom, there are CAD libraries everywhere. Manufacturers offer free libraries on their websites. How is PCB Libraries different?

Tom Hausherr: Unlike canned libraries that are everywhere (we’ve offered them before) but found that most of our users do not really use them. All of our parts are dynamically customized with unique user preferences. Users get parts with their desired rotation, tolerance, pad shapes, linewidths, and desired colors for 3D STEP models, and dozens of other customizable features. The part data from PCB Libraries gets processed by the Library Expert (where user preferences are applied), and output to the various CAD formats. This feature allows users to adjust dozens of preferences and rebuild entire libraries based on future needs. Professional designers and engineers want boards designed in a consistent manner, not patched up with no consistency between free parts obtained from dozens of places. Among other powerful features, the Library Expert also allows users to search an entire bill of materials (BOM) against their parts to automatically identify the parts they have and the ones they need, which greatly simplifies the part search process.

Warner: That’s an interesting concept. What led you to develop a library tool like this?

Hausherr: I started my first library of symbols and footprints at Beckman Instruments in 1982. My manager educated me that the CAD Library was the foundation of the PCB Layout. I’ll never forget his words, “Garbage in, garbage out.” Based on our need and the limited computer technology then, it took me nine months of working long hours before I could start my first CAD tool PCB layout. I thought to myself, “There has to be a better way.” Ready-to-use, high-quality library parts where a must-have for us to increase productivity. Then, in the 1990s, I owned CADPRO, the largest PCB design service bureau in San Diego at that time. Besides PCB designs, we offered the CADPRO library that helped hundreds of companies.

Warner: What happened to the CADPRO Libraries?

Hausherr: In 1998, I took the IPC CID certification class with Dieter Bergman. I learned from Dieter that the electronics industry is in a metric conversion process and that the Inch-based CADPRO libraries will be obsolete in 10 years because most component manufactures will provide package dimensional data in metric units. Dieter also asked me to join IPC’s effort to support IPC-SM-782 and that IPC would help me with the creation of the first standalone PCB library calculator software program. After a couple weeks of research, I sold CADPRO and went to work for Wind River. 

To read this entire article, which appeared in the January 2016 issue of The PCB Design Magazine, click here.

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