Gerber files are designed to contain all of the information necessary to create a printed circuit board. It is important not only to understand their general purpose, but also the details of what they contain. For those less familiar, Gerber files have certain terminology associated with them that may be confusing. Once the information and terms are fully understood, designers will be completely equipped to use them properly and convey exactly what they need. The data typically found in the Gerber files includes the following:
While Gerbers are the undisputed leader in the PCB manufacturing format, they’re not the only choice. Other than the RS-274X standard, there’s the older RS-274-D standard, ODB++ and DPF formats. Certain manufacturers can even accept the design files from specific design suites, such as Altium or Eagle. To maximize compatibility and to ensure the layers represent everything desired, RS-274X format is highly recommended. For drill data, Excellon is the market standard, though many experts recommend using the Gerber format even for drill holes to reduce the risk of alignment problems.
Although Gerbers contain all the shape and size information needed for each layer of a PCB, it is still essential to provide additional information as a readme file. This information includes:
It is imperative to share these requirements with your PCB manufacturer, otherwise standard PCB specifications may be used.
While generating and reviewing the Gerber files, there are a couple recommendations that you should probably follow to make sure that the data is being conveyed properly.
With a good understanding of Gerbers, and by using these tips and tricks, designers and engineers can confidently submit files knowing what they receive is exactly what they requested.