In the world of pcb prototype, the Gerber format is said to be an open ASCII vector format that has the responsibility of handling China pcb designs. Gerber format is a de facto standard which is widely used by PCB related industry softwares in order to describe the China pcb images; solder mask, copper layers, drill data, legend, and a few more.
An official website for Gerber format is the one that contains proper specifications for pcb prototype, notes, test files, along with the Reference Gerber Viewer for the purpose of supporting users (more specifically, Gerber Software developers).
Gerber is exclusively used in China pcb fabrication data. Pcb prototypes are designed on a specialized electronic design automation (EDA) as well as on a computer-aided design (CAD) system. Taking the CAD systems in consideration, it output China pcb fabrication data to allow fabrication of the board.
This output data typically contains a Gerber file for each of the image layer (copper layers, solder mask, legend, silk, etc.). Gerber is also stated to be the standard image input format for all bare board China pcb fabrication equipment which is in need of image data. This may include photoplotters, legend printers, automated optical inspection (AOI) machines, direct imagers for viewing reference images in various departments.
For pcb prototype, the China pcb fabrication data contains the solder paste layers along with the central locations of components in order to create the stencil. Not only this but it places and bonds the component together strongly.
As a general discussion, there are two major generations of Gerber format for China pcb prototype:
- Extended Gerber, also famous as RS-274X, is the current Gerber format in the world of pcb prototype. In the year 2014, the graphics format was extended with an added option to integrate meta-information into the graphics objects. Files with such type of attributes are called X2 files. On the other hand, files without these attributes are called X1 files.
- Standard Gerber is also famous as RS-274-D. This type of obsolete format was revoked for China pcb.
Pcb prototype is designed on a highly specialized EDA (electronic design automation) or CAD (computer-aided design) system. The later one outputs the China pcb fabrication data to allow manufacturing of the board.
China pcb fabrication data contains a Gerber file for each image layer and drill span which is for historic reasons. The Excellon format is also considered sometimes for drilled hole information, although, Gerber files usually contain a type of data this format does not have. Typically, all such files are “zipped” into a single archive. This is then sent to the China pcb bare board fabrication stops. Next, the fabricator loads them into CAM (a computer-aided manufacturing) system in order to prepare data for each such step of the pcb prototype production.
China pcb fabrication data needs to comply with many of the rules and regulations such as; a profile layer must be added and all layers of pcb prototype must be aligned. The CAD netlist can be also be embedded in the China pcb Gerber files.