Almost every electronic gadget you care to think of has at least one printed circuit board (PCB), which serves to house and connect the various components that allow the device to function as a whole. While circuit boards are mostly invisible to end users, they form the basis of the world in which they live, powering smartphones, cars, microwave ovens, garage doors, and the entire connected world.
Thus, the global PCB market is a big business, Expected to grow from a 60 billion dollar industry in 2020 to $75 billion by 2027. This is the sector that is headquartered in Germany Silos He wants to take advantage of it, with an automated platform that extends into the entire circuit board design process from conception to PCB printing.
To accelerate its mission to “automate electronics design”, Celus today announced that it has raised €25 million ($25.6 million) in its Series I funding.
So, exactly how big of a problem does Celus plan to solve?
lack of components
Designing a PCB from scratch requires the engineer to come up with a concept for an initial circuit diagram, based on the components needed to power the final product, be it transistors, resistors, capacitors, diodes, sensors, batteries, diodes, and all the rest. The problem is that there may be millions of different components to choose from, in different sizes and specifications from thousands of manufacturers. Thus, selecting the right components for the job, at the right price and availability, can be an incredibly manual, labor-intensive process, involving multiple disciplines from across the company working in tandem to go through thousands of datasheets and select the right components.
Only then do the engineers draw the actual circuit diagrams to assemble all the components together, which will eventually find their way into the final PCB. But if you think that this is the end of the process, you may be wrong. Companies often have to redesign their circuit boards if certain components (such as chips) are difficult to procure, an especially common problem in the post-pandemic supply chain, which can mean engineers have to come back somewhere near square one. by their design.
“It is theoretically possible to replace an unavailable component with a similar component, but this results in a time-consuming and costly redesign of the electronic circuit and PCB,” Celus CEO and co-founder Tobias Pohl told TechCrunch. “Using Celus’ automation system, this redesign is processed within minutes.”
In essence, Celus has built an engineering platform that provides engineers with component data from electronics manufacturers, while adding its own automation sauce to the mix. In fact, Celus automates many of the manual processes involved in circuit board design, including creating the schematics – a conceptual drawing of how the parts are connected – and then creating a PCB “ground diagram” showing where to place each component and how to connect it.
“Our design board provides the drawing board to capture the concept of the product, and from there it automatically creates the circuit diagram,” Paul explained. “Components are selected based on what best suits their requirements, and automation generates the initial PCB. Engineers save a tremendous amount of time with this, which means they can experiment and try different things and get creative.”
So with Celus, users simply describe their requirements, which are then automatically matched against a library of components to find the best solution. And this is where Celus strives to distinguish from others Powered by artificial intelligence PCB players – Prioritizes component selection and layout design, and makes them available in an easy-to-use graphical user interface.
AI is used not only in the design of new circuit boards, but during the process of extracting information from existing unstructured data sources—for example, when engineers load schematics and PCB layouts into Celus, algorithms interpret the information within these files to make predictions.
“Traditionally, humans have had to consume and interpret many of the files used to design circuit boards, but AI can make this type of data truly digital and interpreted by machine learning,” Ball added.
It’s also worth noting that Celus can be used as a standalone system, or integrated into an existing IT environment where its underlying AI is put to work with industry-standard Electronic Design Automation (EDA) tools.
All of this ultimately amounts to saving precious time, which is an invaluable commodity in a world where there seem to be not enough skilled engineers to navigate. And with global events like pandemics and wars exacerbating this problem, Celus is well positioned to capitalize on promising circuit board engineers who are time-pressed to redesign their products at the push of a button.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented shortage of components within the industry – while component obsolescence and supply chain issues have always been a concern, the scale of the current problem means that manufacturers of electronic devices cannot ‘fix the problem’, forced to redesign their products to survive. At work,” Pohl continued. “Our automation tackles this redesign challenge in minutes and makes product redesign an option.”
Founded in Munich in 2018, Celus has only raised around €5.4 million in seed funding in its four-year history. However, it has amassed quite a few famous customers of that period, including Siemens and Weissmanna German manufacturer of heating and cooling systems with a value of 3.4 billion euros.
The first round of the Celus Series was led by Earlybird Venture Capital, with participation from DI Capital, Speedinvest, Plug and Play, and a group of angel investors including former Rolls Royce CEO Sir John Rose and Paul Gojenola, Vice President of Hardware Development In Google’s Nest. With an infusion of new cash, Pohl said the company plans to open a new office in the US “to put it at the heart of the electronics industry.”
“We want to reach every electronics designer out there, and enable them to focus more time on innovation and creativity, while our software reduces the tedious and time-consuming tasks they were dealing with before,” he said.