I am professional developer with 30+ years experience. I have used many of the PCB / EDA software’s on the market. Since 20+ years Altium is first go to software.
The last week I have tried to do complete design in KiCad (just not playing around) to see what it’s capable of. I almost pulled this of. KiCad is more capable than I expected. Compared to Altium it’s much faster. And I think the routing function in many ways are superior to Altium. Is KiCad a replacement to Altium?
I will say yes or no. A smaller project specially if you stay out of BGAs and QFNs/SONs KiCad will do the work pretty much the same.
Here is what I found missing in KiCad 5.99 to make it decent replacement to Altium. KiCad Version: (5.99.0-8185-g86be755c83), release build
Altium have an excellent feature called Harness. Its basically a bus you can build with arbitrary net names and sub busses. These connect different sheets/modules.
We store all component info in externa database or even Excelsheet.
When you place a symbol in the schematic Altium automatically creates fields in the symbol corresponding to values i database like manufacturer’s part number etc.
Bill of material
Due to the missing information in the KiCad library symbol (see above) the the generated BOMs are very limited that require a lot of reverse engineering.
Creating pads and vias is a mess. The lack of pad stack support make it very complicated to make more advanced feature. I have noted that you can simulate many things by placing multiple pads on the same spot with the same pin number, but its not the same. On more advanced designs you want different pads and solder mask on different layers. You don’t want one same via in every place on the board.
It looks really good and I couldn’t see any obvious missing.
Altium have super advance batch work configuration to automatically create production files but most of the time it’s really not needed.
I have read on this forum about the development process it looks quite slow if you compare to other open source. I think for example Blender is something to look at.
Having one or several licenses of different CAD packages you usually pay thousands of dollars per year. I think many of us would be interested in a more professional approach. Could there be a model where you pay a couple of hundred or maybe thousand to speed up the process.