A Beginners Guide to Gerber Files Explained

Introduction

Gerber files are files used to create the photomask, which is then used to produce the PCBs. They contain information about all of your PCB’s layers, including their thicknesses and other attributes.

Because they’re so important, it’s important to understand how to use them correctly. In this article, we’ll explain what Gerber files are and how they work. We’ll also give you some tips for creating them in your own PCB design software.

What is a Gerber File?

First, you need to know what a PCB is. A PCB is short for printed circuit board, and it’s the piece of equipment that allows electronic devices to function.

You can think of a PCB as a sandwich: The “bread” is the board itself—the physical substance that carries the electrical current from one component to another. The “meat” of this sandwich is the conductive metal traces that allow electricity to flow from one point on the board to another. And at the center of our metaphorical sandwich? Components like resistors and capacitors, which form an electrical pathway between two points on the board.

Gerber files come into play when you’re designing PCBs for manufacturing purposes. A Gerber file contains information about your design—things like how much copper should be used in each layer of your board, where components should be placed, and even what color wire will be used in each layer (if there are multiple layers).

Gerber File

Gerber File

History of Gerber File

The history of this is a bit like the history of digital design. It’s a story of innovation and progress, of people who care about their craft and want to make things better.

Gerber files are named after Heinz Joseph Gerber, founder of Gerber Systems Corp. In 1961 he founded Gerber Systems Corporation and began manufacturing circuit boards for government agencies. In 1967 he published a book titled “Electronic Circuit Design”, which described the specifications for vector photoplotters.

The firm began by creating circuit boards in the “Gerber” format. However, as the company began to produce more and more products that were not circuit boards, they began using other file formats. In order to distinguish between these new formats and their original format, they named them “Gerber files”.

Heinz Joseph Gerber

Heinz Joseph Gerber

Further Explanation of File Extension

A file extension is a 3- to 4-letter code at the end of a filename that tells your computer what kind of file it’s looking at. The extension tells you what type of program you should use to open it, and it also tells your computer how to store the data in the file.

For example, if you have a text file called “myfile.txt,” then its extension is .txt (for “text”). Once you tell your computer what kind of program to use for that extension, it will open and display the contents of the file just like any other type of text document would.

What Is the Role of Gerber Files in PCB Manufacturing?

Gerber files are a type of electronic design automation (EDA) file that is used to describe the physical shape and size of a PCB. They are also used to define the position of components on the board and their electrical attributes, such as connectivity and power ratings.

Gerber files are created using a CAD software program like Altium Designer or Eagle. These programs allow you to create a schematic diagram of your circuit, which can then be used to generate the appropriate Gerber files for manufacturing.

When you give these files to your PCB manufacturer, they will utilize them to build your boards to your requirements. This includes cutting out the actual board shape from copper-clad material and etching away any unnecessary copper so that only what remains is what’s needed by your design.

Are Gerber Files Universal?

The short answer is yes, Gerber files are universal. All printed circuit board manufacturers accept them as the standard format for their fabrication and assembly.

Gerber files are a standardized means of describing a circuit board in a form that other applications and equipment can understand. The files include information about the board’s layers, pins, geometry, and more. They’re also used to generate other kinds of information like drill files.

Universal Gerber Files

Universal Gerber Files

Gerber File Features

These files are widely used in the electronics industry to design an electronic circuit board. It features the following characteristics:

Basic ASCII Vector Setup

The Gerber file is a basic ASCII vector setup that is used to describe the traces, pads and vias on a printed circuit board. It consists of rows and columns of text containing the coordinates of points on the board. The Gerber file format is widely used by PCB manufacturers to generate photomasks for photo-lithographic PCB manufacturing processes.

Its setup consists of a series of lines and text characters. Each line contains a series of numbers and letters, which represent the coordinates of the points that make up the shape in the drawing. The first two numbers in each line define the X and Y coordinates of the top left corner, while subsequent numbers represent individual pixels horizontally and vertically within that area.

Configuration Factors

Configuration factor is a measurement of the percentage of total area occupied by different components of your PCB design. For example, if you have a larger component that takes up 30% of your PCB, it will have a configuration factor of 0.30. This is helpful in determining the size and shape of your printed circuit board. It also allows you to check whether there are any misalignment issues with your design.

Macro and Aperture Measurements

With Gerber File, you can view the macro and aperture measurements of your PCBs in a variety of formats, as well as export them to other programs. You can also add in your own custom sizes, and you can even use your camera to take photos of the boards and get measurements right away!

Draw and Flash Command Codes

Draw and Flash Command Codes are used to control the behavior of the Gerber File viewer. They specify how to draw lines and text, how to draw dots and dashes on the screen, and how to make corrections when there are mistakes in your design.

It allows you to design printed circuit boards and print them in a variety of ways. It has a library of these codes for your printed circuit board design.

Draw and Flash Command Codes

Draw and Flash Command Codes

XY Coordinate Settings

XY Coordinate settings are used to describe the location of points on a printed circuit board. The coordinates are expressed in terms of the X and Y axes, which are perpendicular to each other. The origin is located at the intersection of these axes, with 0 on the X-axis pointing right and 0 on the Y-axis pointing up.

The X-coordinate value increases as you move right, while the Y-coordinate value increases as you move down.

You can use Gerber File’s XY coordinate setting to specify the location of your PCB design’s components and features in relation to this origin point.

Different Types of Gerber Format

There are a few different types of Gerber formats, and each one is designed to make it easier for a manufacturer to interpret your design files. If you’re working on a project that requires you to send your design files to a PCB manufacturer, it’s important to know which type they need so they can fabricate your boards correctly.

Gerber X2

Gerber X2 is one of the most popular formats for PCBs. It’s a two-up format, which means that two boards are printed on each sheet of paper. This makes it easier for a user to see what is on each board, and it also helps prevent errors in the manufacturing process that might result if an error made on one board affected the other board as well.

Gerber X2 also provides information about how deep each layer should be etched into the copper substrate. This makes it easier for manufacturers to keep track of what they’re doing and ensure that they don’t miss any parts of the design when etching away material from the board.

Gerber X2

Gerber X2

ODB++

These files are ASCII text files that contain device data organized into sections, or “pads”, that allow the file to be interpreted by a specific tool or software application. The name ODB refers to three elements: Object, Data, and Binary. The object can be any element within an integrated circuit (IC) design; the data consists of information such as pin assignments, package type, and electrical parameters; and binary refers to the fact that all elements are represented by either 0 or 1 values.

ODB++

ODB++

RS274X

It’s a 2D image format that allows you to view a PCB layout in both the X-Y plane and in the Z-direction. It also includes information about your board’s layers, vias, and all other features. This format is used by most fab houses to create your board mask.

RS274X

RS274X

RS274-D

The first version of the PCB file format is produced by any CAD system. It is an open standard that has been used for decades and continues to be in use today.

This format is used by many different systems, including the most popular ones like Altium Designer and Eagle. This format provides a good starting point for anyone who wants to learn about PCB design or create their own circuit boards.

RS274-D

RS274-D

Gerber Viewer Software Available

Let’s face it: there are a lot of Gerber Viewers out there. But how do you know which one is best for your needs?

GerbEx

A software for generating G-code for PCB milling and drilling. It’s suitable for beginners and advanced users and it contains features that allow both to easily customize the generated G-code for their personal needs.

GerbEx

GerbEx

Viewplot

This is CAD viewing software. This allows you to inspect various CAD formats. This also take measurements and manipulate data. It’s fast, reliable and above all easy to use.

ZofzPCB

A free Gerber viewer. This makes viewing and verification of your PCB designs fast, and easy. Whether you want to see inside your PCB layout or check if it matches up with the schematic, ZofzPCB is a great tool for the pre-production verification of your designs.

ZofzPCB

ZofzPCB

GerberLogix

Simple and easy-to-use software for viewing various layers of a Gerber file. It has various features like Layer options, Zoom Objects, Select Objects and many more.

GC-Prevue

It supports many different file formats for exporting and importing. You can use it to review files of all kinds. The user interface has built-in scaling to fit the display size, so if your screen changes size, it takes care of updating automatically.

GC-Prevue

GC-Prevue

GerbMagic

Designed to be intuitive and simple to use. Built on top of technology originally developed for military use, GerbMagic will decode any board format you throw at it.

EasyEDA Gerber Viewer

Fast and reliable tool for viewing, processing, and generating Gerber data files. This not only allows users to view output, but they can also generate Gerber files with many options as well.

EasyEDA Gerber Viewer

EasyEDA Gerber Viewer

Gerbv

A software application that displays and validates Gerber files, the industry standard CAD data format used in PCB designing. This was designed to work with GIMP. This is a free raster graphics editor developed as a companion for the GNU Image Manipulation Program.

Gerbv

Gerbv

DFM Now

DFM Now can help you reduce costs, eliminate design flaws and improve manufacturing efficiency. It enables software developers to inspect designs quickly and easily before costly mistakes are made.

GerberGrab

A free tool allowing you to share, download and view files, including graphics and CAD projects. The GerberGrab visualizer is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux operating systems.

 

Conclusion

The takeaway from this should be that, yes, Gerber files are technically daunting. There is a bit of a learning curve. However, once you get the basics down, they can be very useful in transferring file information to manufacturers and developing printed circuit boards.

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