Gerber Files Board Size
Unlocking Efficiency with IC Decapsulation in Printed Circuit Boards
Admin, February 06,2024
Gerber Files Board Size in Printed Circuit Boards
PCBA Manufacturing Processes and Technologies
The production of printed circuit boards depends on Gerber files. In other words, these files are drawings or blueprints that help you create a PCB. Engineers use software to develop the Gerber files board size in a precise way. The drawings show legends, solder masks, copper layers, etc. It becomes easy to develop complex designs of the circuit boards with the help of Gerber files containing all the details. So, the manufacturers get the exact data that board features require.
The Basics of Gerber Files
The Gerber file consists of a 2D drawing showing the locations, shapes, dimensions of different features, and other details depicting a PCB layout. The software works through multiple commands that help create a blueprint. A Gerber file has a simple structure having data blocks, a header, and a file marker.
Header: The header of a Gerber file gives you the details of the format, as well as the measurements or data units.
Data Blocks: There are different types of data blocks depicting the commands to show the PCB layers. The text shows a command to perform a certain action like drawing a line, trimming or coloring a line, etc. Whereas the flash command helps designers to create shapes or pads. Hence, you get the exact size, location, and shape of all PCB elements through commands. Gerber files also help in creating different copies of the same design.
What Are Gerber File Layers
Standard Layers: The Gerber files board size depends on different layers depicting the board’s features. Like through standard layers, you can find the electrical signals through copper layers. Whereas the PCB assembly as well as troubleshooting depends on the silkscreen layers. Likewise, the solder mask layer informs you about the solder bridge and how to avoid it.
All these layers work independently helping a photoplotter to print them separately and providing clear details for manufacturers. So, the plotter gives you the hard copy of the PCB layout according to the Gerber file data.
In the case of a multilayered PCB, you will get independent Gerber files for both upper and lower layers. The top copper, solder mask, and top silkscreen will have their own Gerber files. Whereas the bottom layer elements would have separate Gerber files, having necessary commands. Eventually, the plotter will process these files to develop the PCB layout based on specific layers.
Non-Standard Layers: The Gerber files also give you the non-standard layers to create features like copper pours, and solder paste stencils, and also show the keep-out areas.
The design of the circuit board determines the Gerber layer you need. Like, a few layers would be enough for a simple PCB whereas a series of Gerber layers would be necessary for complex designs.
Gerber File’s Data Format
PCB designers use three types of Gerber file formats, depending on the project. Let’s discuss them in detail:
Standard Gerber Format: Designers also show it as RS-274 D and it’s the earliest format. The format is user-friendly and easy for the drafters and includes multiple commands. You can use text to give commands depending on the design. However, the format is limited in the sense that it does not provide support for complex designs. So, you have to use another aperture file for sizes and shapes, especially for traces.
Extended Gerber Format: The designers also show an extended Gerber as RS-274X. You can consider it an advanced version of the initial standard format. It overcomes the limitations of a standard format through different features, such as:
- Embedded aperture
- Complex design support
- Support for multiple layers
Gerber-X2: It is the most advanced type of Gerber format eliminating all the limitations of previous versions. It is compatible with all additional vendor extensions, including the Bot and Top. Moreover, it goes well with the CAM. The latest technology depends more on the extended format because it is compatible with complex PCB layouts. Besides, all modern equipment is compatible with this version.
PCB Manufacturing Through Gerber files
You get the Gerber files board size through a detailed map that the manufacturing tools require. The file consists of the location of the components, current routing, and the board layout. The files determine the accuracy of the physical board.
After creating the Gerber files, the designer loads them onto the photoploting machines and sends them to the manufacturer. The machines provide the PCB layers through Gerber files. Similarly, the tools draw traces and other things through commands.
PCB Design Verification
The Gerber files have to be accurate or any faults can lead to a poor end product. So, the designers preview these files to detect any errors and correct them before they reach manufacturers. Mostly, engineers use the Gerber viewer to visually check the files as it gives a realistic picture of the layout. The software helps you check each layer thoroughly, including vias, traces, components’ placement, etc. The Gerber viewer also helps detect any missing components, wrong clearances between different parts, and overlapped traces.
DRC: Another way to verify the design is through DRC or design rule checking. The software automatically detects the design parameters, including clearances, trace width, the current limit of the traces, etc. The DRC then highlights the issue if there is any.
ERC: There is also an electrical rule-checking tool to inspect any electrical issues such as wrong connections, short circuits, etc. Hence, the designer can modify the design before sending it to the manufacturers.
How the Gerber Files Help In Drilling Vias
The mounting of the components and hole drilling becomes precise with Gerber files. Moreover, you can ensure accurate Gerber files board size. Drilling vias in a circuit board is an essential part of its fabrication. One type of vias provides current between multiple layers of the board, and the other helps securely install the components. Drilling has to be accurate because misaligned vias can result in short circuits and missing connections.
Gerber files guide the manufacturers in drilling the proper hole size and its location. The vias on all the layers should pass through each other. The designers also use the Excellon files with the Gerber to have a real idea of the holes to be drilled.
During drilling, the machine gets each hole’s diameter to set the bit, making the hole at a certain spot. The machine involves both optical and mechanical systems to set the bit according to the coordinates. So, the correct drilling ensures an accurate end product.
How Gerber Files Help In Etching
In etching, you have to remove an extra copper from the board to get the finishing as required. In the case of etching, the Gerber X2 files help in creating the photomask to block the areas that don’t need etching. On the other hand, etched areas become hard. Poor etching can cause short or open circuits. So, that’s why you need to follow the right parameters provided by the Gerber files to have a functional board.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Gerber Files In Printed Circuit Boards?
The Gerber file consists of a 2D drawing showing the locations, shapes, dimensions of different features, and other details, depicting a PCB layout.
Which Software Can Help You View Gerber Files?
Multiple software are available in the market to view and inspect Gerber files, such as Gerber View, GC Prevue, and ViewMate.
Is It Possible To Convert Other Files Into Gerber Files?
Different software can export any other design files into Gerber files, such as Eagle, Altium, and KiCad.
How To Find The Accuracy Of The Gerber Files?
You can preview the files with software named Gerber View or can get it done by companies that offer a review service. Many online platforms also offer the review.
Why Do You Need Gerber Files?
Gerber files are drawings or blueprints that help you to create a PCB. It becomes easy to develop complex PCBs with the help of images containing all the details. Manufacturers get the exact data of all the elements of the circuit board.
How Many Formats Of Gerber Files Are There?
There are three types of Gerber file formats, such as standard format, extended format, and Gerber X2.
How Many Layers Of Gerber Files Are There?
Gerber files have two types of layers, including standard and non-standard layers. The design of the circuit board determines the Gerber layer you need. A simple PCB can have a few layers, whereas a series of Gerber layers would be necessary for complex designs.
Final Thoughts On Gerber Files Board Size
According to engineers, the backbone of a circuit board is the Gerber files. As an engineer or manufacturer, you should be an expert create the right Gerber files. Whether it is simple data or two-aperture data, you should know its importance and how to create it.
Though PCB manufacturing is mostly automated these days, you still must know how to use the design software for Gerber files. In other words, these files act as a universal language between different experts and ensure the physical product is according to the design.
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