Trending at Freedom CAD: New Crop of Next‐Gen Designers


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Scott McCurdy, director of sales and marketing at Freedom CAD Services, expresses his vision for what North America is bringing to the table in the world of circuit design. I‐Connect007 Publisher Barry Matties and McCurdy also discuss China, trends in product design, tools, and more.

Barry Matties: Tell me a little bit about Freedom CAD. What does the company do, exactly?

Scott McCurdy: Freedom CAD is one of the largest printed circuit design engineering service bureaus in North America. We’re primarily known for PCB layout which is where we have the largest number of our employees, with about thirty layout designers. We also go upstream as well, with electrical engineers doing hardware design. The EE guys (electrical/electronics engineers) work from the customer’s block diagram sketch to create the digital schematic; then we’ll do the layout.

Freedom_CAD_hq.jpgBut we also go in the other direction: When we get the opportunity with our customers, we can provide prototype assemblies.  We manage the projects, working with a few select partners for PCB fabrication, component kitting, and assembly houses. We’re really only dealing with prototypes builds, but it’s that entire cradle‐to‐grave span that we can provide to our customer, to take them from the sketch pad to the working PCB assembly.

We’re basically providing the engineering that will ultimately turn into a circuit board.

Matties: You’ve been at this for how long?

McCurdy: I have been at it for a few years. I got started in 1968 and opened a little printed circuit board shop with my dad.

Matties: McCurdy Circuits?

McCurdy: Yes. Dad got it off and running and a decade later I took over the company and over the following 20+ years grew it to $33 million. Then came the cataclysmic event of 2001. Lots of headstones in the PCB fabricators graveyard! McCurdy Circuits was one of them. I stumbled into the IPC Designers Council. All of a sudden, my eyes opened up that the design side of this business was a great place for my previous fab skills.

I’ve been the president of the Orange County Chapter of the IPC Designers Council since 2003 and really enjoy being able to bring designers and fabricators together. This way we can learn more about what each other is doing and actually create some reality out of that term “DFM.”

Matties: Is your customer base primarily in the U.S., or are you in the global market?

McCurdy: We do very little outside of North America. There are a lot of our customers who are designing and engineering in the States but they’re building it somewhere else. That’s just the way it is today, but they do appreciate the mindshare of same time zones, and we’ve got designers in 13 states and British Columbia, so we’re scattered all over the country. There is the comfort level of talking in the same language and being in close time zones and cultures and things like that. Not that we don’t feel that there are other parts of the world that are making a great contribution to this interconnect industry, we’re just primarily North America—that is our main customer base.

Matties: One of the things that I’m hearing is that China is really coming on strong in the design sector.

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