The PCB manufacturing process is complex. The precision of the manufactured PCBs hinges on many things, but none more important than complete and accurate design or manufacturing data, most often Gerber files. A wide variety of PCB design software applications are used to produce manufacturing data, and the complexity of each design can vary significantly. As a result, the manufacturing data generated may not always yield the intended results, leading to board failures, manufacturing delays and increased costs.
In our second post in this 3-part series (Miss Part 1? Find it here) we will tackle the next three common problems that we encounter with Gerber files and how to avoid them.
Gerber File Problem 4 – Drill Format
Drill files are often provided without the correct format. Importing the file then becomes “trial and error” to get it right. The header in the file should include information that clearly indicates the format. The proper format is called a NC Drill file. If you are further able to define that file, it’s helpful to add to the software export: 2.4, Absolute, Trailing.
Gerber File Problem 5 – Registration of Layers
When possible, having the Gerber files registered to a common data point is recommended. Some files come in with the layers at a different datum alignment (like a target) which then requires manual alignment of the layers. This can be done, but is an instance which requires additional engineering time and leaves room for error.
Gerber File Problems 6 – Board Outline
Often times Gerber data is provided with no defined outline of the board included. This can be a problem when defining the dimensions of the board per your requirements. The outline can be its own independent file or you can include an outline on each layer in the data set. This is one of the most common mistakes we encounter and is a showstopper; meaning, the PCB manufacturer will put your job on hold until this information is provided.
This is the second post in our three-part series titled Common Problems with Gerber Files and How to Avoid Them. Part 3 will be available on October 31, and will address some of the more complex design problems found in Gerber files, but in the meantime, if you have any questions please contact our team for assistance.