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The latest partnership for electronics component giant Digi-Key reinforces the trend of distributors working to enhance their value and distinguish themselves from the competition with unique, service-oriented offerings… including software.

With over $1.5 billion in annual sales, greater than 860,000 products in stock and more than 650 suppliers on their line card, it would be easy for Thief River Falls, MN-based Digi-Key to feel like they’re already providing everything their customers could want from an electronics component distributor. But the company recently added a different type of offering via a unique partnership with Computer Aided Design (CAD) software provider Mentor Graphics.

Designer Schematic by Mentor Graphics is the latest addition to Digi-Key’s prototype to production push. According to Randall Restle, Director of Applications Engineering at Digi-Key, “We (Digi-Key and Mentor Graphics) are long-time colleagues, given we share many customers. Our collaboration began with the desire to serve these customers in ways that are not possible with each of us acting alone. Working with Mentor, Digi-Key has implemented new services which put our parametric search engine into Mentor’s tools, along with specific part data transfer.”

“Mentor Graphics’ partnership with Digi-Key provides an opportunity to deliver our design technologies to individual engineers,” said Henry Potts, Board System Design Division VP & GM for Mentor Graphics. “Working with Digi-Key, we have been able to develop web-based sales, licensing, and delivery of a new product focused on meeting the needs of innovators."

The offering, available exclusively from Digi-Key, consists of three parts: Designer Schematic, Designer Layout and PartQuest. 

    • Designer Layout is a printed circuit board (PCB) layout program. It will be offered in a basic and an unlimited version, with varying prices. 
    • Designer Schematic is starting off at $300, but all prices are subject to change during the Release Candidate process. Designer Schematic is a schematic capture program scheduled to launch early this summer.
    • PartQuest is free. It is the part finding and layout pattern builder that is connected to Digi-Key’s site. Parts can be sourced and fed into the CAD software, eliminating manual part data entry in establishing specifications and constructing build lists or BOMs.

The program offers a free 42-day license and download of the software. In this beta release, the tool does not include PCB layout functionality. However, this capability will be available in future production releases. Mentor Graphics was established in 1981 and reported revenues in excess of $1.15 billion from its previous fiscal year. More information about Designer Schematic and the new beta program is available at

With the goal of simultaneously streamlining concept visualization and material lists and costs, the partnership seems to fulfill a number of industry needs while potentially expanding the customer base of both companies. It’s the type of connection more and more distributors are seeking in order to enhance their value and further embed their presence within the day-to-day operations of their customers.

Early access to the beta test of this design tool can be acquired by visiting the Designer Schematic landing page on the Digi-Key website and clicking the “Get Started Now” button at the bottom. Any questions, comments, or suggestions generated through use of the tool can be posted to the  Designer Schematic group on TechXchange

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