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34 The PCB Magazine • February 2014 by Julian Coates Mentor Graphics Valor DiVision Smart Data Transfer Formats Automate CAD/CAM With ever-increasing functionality, density, and complexity, fabricators and assembly hous- es must look for new ways to meet demands for high quality and on-time delivery. Once the schematic is complete and the PCB has been laid out, the complex process of transferring all the product design into manufacturing begins. The data handed off constitutes a complete def- inition of the designer's intentions for the prod- uct to be manufactured. From this data-model of the product the complete set of manufactur- ing process data, tooling and machine-files is derived. Thus, having an integrated CAD/CAM strategy is imperative for today's sophisticated PCBs. For decades, this design-to-manufacturing handoff has required a wide range of different files, each containing a part of the final picture, similar to a jigsaw puzzle. These files can include Gerber data with the physical layout of the in- dividual PCB layers; Excellon drill data; netlists; and other documentation files as needed. Once the PCB fabricator receives this set of files, they must put the puzzle back together— then perform a time-consuming verification process to determine if they have received all the necessary files to produce the PCB, and to ensure that the data is error free. Because the process has a lot of manual input, human er- rors often creep into the process. Fabricators es- f e a t u r e

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