In May 2014, 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. Inconsistent standards have been used by many software applications 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:

The Gerber Format Specification
Gerber X2: The New Paradigm in CAD-to-CAM Communication


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!


Related Posts

Common Problems with Gerber Files And How To Avoid Them
The Gerber Format; An Interview With Umcamco