Friday, December 09th
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UcamcoA couple months ago, Ucamco, the company that maintains Gerber specifications, released an “Open Letter to the Gerber User Community” and stated “Standard Gerber is now technologically obsolete.”

Here is why.

There have been a number of important updates to the Standard Gerber format in recent months.  Ucamco has made changes to improve the format and has renamed the new standards as Gerber X2, or, Extended Gerber.

For many years now there have been challenges when translating Gerber data from a customer/designer’s CAD program to a manufacturer’s CAM program.  Many software applications have used inconsistent standards and much of the most important information is not communicated via the Gerber files at all.

In November of 2013, with the help of manufacturers, Ucamco posted a draft review of the new Gerber X2 standard.  After several months of community review they incorporated several additional attributes that can be defined including:

  • Gerber file function: top copper layer, top solder mask, etc
  • Part: single PCB, customer panel, etc
  • Object function: SMD pad, via pad, etc
  • Drill tolerances
  • Locations of impedance-controlled tracks
  • Filled vias
  • An MD5 checksum (for added security)

Key Takeaways:

1. The goal of the new standard is to improve the communication from CAD to CAM in order to eliminate errors that can impact manufacturing quality and delivery times.

2. The new standard is not a complete overhaul of the old one but adds key information that is needed to manufacturer circuit boards.

3. When exporting data, PCB design software may still show the term “standard”. As such, when exporting files for manufacturers, users should always select the “Extended” option.

Recommended reading for additional details on the new Gerber X2 standard:

Open Letter to the Gerber User Community

The Gerber Format Specification

Gerber X2 Example

At Bay Area Circuits we feel fortunate to use Ucamco’s CAM software (Ucam), and as such, are well prepared to handle the Gerber X2 Extended format. If you have any questions or comments we’d love to hear from you!

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