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The Gerber Guide, Chapters 15 and 16August 8, 2016 | Karel Tavernier, Ucamco
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
Chapter 15: The Use of Gerber Viewers
Before sending your Gerber files off to your fabricator, you are often advised to check them using a reputable Gerber viewer such as GC-Prevue. This is excellent advice.
Note that this involves more than just verifying that the viewer displays your intended image: It is important that you check too that the file is valid. Even when handling invalid data, viewers typically try to reverse-engineer the intended image by "reading between the lines." This is perfectly OK, but the file is still invalid and, according to Gerber specification: An invalid Gerber file is meaningless and does not represent an image.
A file with errors must not be sent to the fabricator as if all is well, even if the intended image is shown. This is because even if your reader has reverse engineered the intended image from the invalid data, another reader may not be so successful. And that reader may be your fabricator's CAM, which will result in scrap. Should this happen, the fault lies squarely with the file. To quote from the Gerber specification: The responsibilities are obvious and plain. Writers must write valid and robust files and readers must process such files correctly. Writers are not responsible for navigating around problems in the readers, nor are readers responsible for solving problems in the writers.
It is therefore extremely important that you check that your files are valid. Invalid files can cause viewers to throw error messages like the one in Figure 1, taken from GC-Prevue.
These messages clearly indicate that there is something very wrong with the file. The question is, what you do if you see such errors? It’s not easy. Low resolution is often the root cause of problems, so it is worth trying to output the file at the resolution recommended in Chapter 10 in this series.
The only safe solution is to fix the bugs in the Gerber output software. It is therefore essential that you provide detailed information of the problem to your software supplier so that the bug can be fixed for the future. That said, the chances are that your board cannot wait for this fix and you have no way to output a valid file. This is then a conundrum. You could send the invalid data with the necessary caveats and hope that your fabricator's software, like your reader, will reverse engineer the intended image correctly. If it does, all is well. But this is a risk, so if you decide to do this, always include a netlist as a safeguard, as advised in Chapter 8 in this series. You can also ask your fabricator to send you the images he generates in CAM, so that you can check them for errors.
To read this entire article, which appeared in the July 2016 issue of The PCB Design Magazine, click here.
PCB prototyping is a critical juncture during an electronic device’s journey from concept to reality. Regardless of a project’s complexity, the process of transforming a design into a working board is often enlightening in terms of how a design can be improved before a PCB is ready for full production.
Panasonic’s Darren Hitchcock spoke with the I-Connect007 Editorial Team on the complexities of moving toward ultra HDI manufacturing. As we learn in this conversation, the number of shifting constraints relative to traditional PCB fabrication is quite large and can sometimes conflict with each other.
StratEdge Reveals High-Performance Semiconductor Packages at European Microwave Week, IMAPS International, and IEEE BCICTS09/19/2023 | StratEdge
StratEdge Corporation will present its thermally-efficient line of post-fired and molded ceramic semiconductor packages at several upcoming events including European Microwave Week (EuMW), September 19-21, IMAPS International, October 3-4, and IEEE BCICTS, October 16-17.
Seika Machinery, Inc., a leading provider of advanced machinery, materials and engineering services, is pleased to announce a special sale on the McDry DXU-580UF Feeder Storage Cabinet.
Often, standing still and doing nothing is the most dangerous tactic you can take. Most companies who get themselves in a jam did it because they didn’t do anything. They saw their impending doom but were too frozen in their fear of uncertainty to do anything about it. Transitioning from a mindset of absolute certainty to one focused on accomplishment and growth can be a powerful, but necessary shift. To help you with changing that mindset, here are 12 things to consider.