An Integrated Library Package (*.LibPkg) is a type of SOLIDWORKS PCB project which is used, not to layout a pcb, but to gather together schematic symbols and pcb footprints in order to produce an integrated library.
Schematic symbols are drawn in the Schematic Library Editor, and model references/links defined for each, along with any parametric information. These are stored across one or more schematic library files. Referenced models can include PCB 2D/3D component models, circuit simulation models, and signal integrity models.
Although you can include both the schematic and pcb libraries in the package, the only document that MUST be added to the integrated library package is the schematic library (or libraries). The files containing PCB 2D/3D component models and simulation models/sub-circuits can be located in any valid search location – within the project, within files in the Installed Libraries list, or down the search path(s) specified for the package.
So why use an integrated library, instead of just maintaining the separate schematic and pcb footprint libraries?
The key benefits of compiling into an integrated library are:
- All component information is available in a single, portable file – since all models are packaged into the integrated library, only one file needs to be available to the project or moved when the project is relocated. This portability is priceless if you divide your work among different workstations or want to share your designs with others.
- If a component is placed onto a design schematic from an integrated library, Altium Designer is guaranteed to find the right model if it can simply locate the integrated library it came from – no juggling of separated library and model files, where model links can prove very ‘brittle’, and easily broken by everyday management tasks such as renaming folders on a hard drive.
- From a security perspective, integrated libraries are solid – once they’re generated, there’s no changing them. In fact, to update an integrated library really means to replace it altogether – you must purposefully pull up the original library package, update the source documents, then recompile.
To get started on an integrated library, in SOLIDWORKS PCB choose File >> New Integrated Library. This will create a new Integrated Library Package project. Right click on the project name in the document panel, and select Add New to Project >> Schematic Library. Repeat for PCB Library. If you have schematic or PCB libraries already made, you can ‘add existing’ rather than ‘add new’.
Once you have the individual libraries completed with your symbols and footprints, and have linked them together in the properties of each schematic symbol, you are ready to create the integrated library.
Right click on the package name in the project document panel, and select “Compile Integrated Library <intlibname.libpkg>.” This checks the individual libraries for integrity. That means they are not only checked for availability, but for correct pin mappings. Even if you want to stay with discrete library files, it is recommended to compile your schematic libraries in an integrated library package, if only to ensure that the source components will map correctly to the target models.
When the compile is complete (and it doesn’t take long at all), then you will have an integrated library file, but unfortunately it doesn’t give you any prompt that tells you where it is.
Navigate in windows explorer to the folder where you saved the Library Package project. There should be an Outputs folder, inside of which is a *.IntLib file with the name of your library package. You are free to move this file wherever you would like on your computer or the network, and install that file to SOLIDWORKS PCB so that it is available in all projects.
Brian Cooke is an Electrical Application Engineer at Computer Aided Technology, a SOLIDWORKS Value Added Reseller with locations throughout the United States. He is a regular contributor to the Computer Aided Technology Blog.