Gerber File

Gerber is an open ASCII vector format for printed circuit board design that shows parts of a board like copper layers, solder mask design, etc. Many applications can read this format because it simple, has detailed specifications, and has few bugs because of its wide use and subsequent debugging. The simple format of a Gerber means it is easy to identify and fix bugs as well. There are three Gerber generations: Gerber X2 (current format), Extended Gerber, or RS-274X, and Standard Gerber, or RS-274-D, which is now obsolete. The Gerber X2 format contains layer stackup information, which was not in previous versions. Software that supports the X2 format will read and identify each item's function in the file.

A RS-274X file contains the complete description of a PCB layer image without requiring any external files. It has all the imaging operators needed for a PCB image. Any aperture shape can be defined as well as positive and negative objects. Planes can be specified without the need to "paint" or "vector-fill" as in RS-274-D.

RS-274X is a complete, powerful and unambiguous standard to describe a PCB layer. It can be input and processed fully automatically. This makes it well suited for fast and secure data transfer and for reliable and automated workflows.

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Include the following Layers when creating Gerbers
  • All copper layers (inner & outer)
  • Soldermask layers
  • Silkscreen/legend layers
  • Via plugging layers (if applicable)
  • Solder paste layers (for assembly)
  • Aperture list if apertures are not embedded in Gerber data
ODB++ File Format
  • There has been a lot of debate between whether Gerber format or ODB++ formats are better for PCB design. Some designers and shops prefer one format over the other. At Sierra, we prefer ODB++ formats. Here's a summary of both formats and their pros and cons.
  • ODB++ stands for Open Database and serves as a way to exchange data between computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) formats for circuit boards. This format was first introduced as ODB, and the "++" was added after a new version included components. ODB++ is an ASCII file that has all the information pertaining to the circuit board design. Printed circuit boards are designed in CAD and transferred into CAM. CAD and CAM programs are usually made by different companies, so they need to agree on the type of data exchange. ODB++ is a manufacturing-oriented program. Many shops prefer this format for this reason because one file can consolidate all the information needed for the job, whereas some Gerbers need additional information from several files to make sense of the image layers. This eliminates the need to analyze each file to eliminate bugs.
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