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Design007-Jan2018

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JANUARY 2018 I DESIGN007 MAGAZINE 43 Shaughnessy: We see several other data trans- fer formats getting a lot of attention, but most PCB designs are still created in Gerber. Why do you think PCB designers are still using Gerber after so many decades? Tavernier: Maybe the question is why one would stop using Gerber. Especially if you go beyond the generalities of data format to look at the specific question of CAD to bare board CAM data transfer. But before we do that, let's get specific about Gerber too: there's the tra- ditional Extended Gerber (X1), and the latest generation Gerber X2 format. There are things that Extended Gerber does not do. It doesn't contain the netlist, nor where the vias are, nor what the layer structure is—important infor- mation, admittedly. But it does the most impor- tant job of all exceedingly well: It describes the most complex part of bare PCB data, the layer images and drill data, in clear, reliable and simple terms. And implementations are thoroughly debugged, so there are very few problems with images in Gerber. This should not be taken for granted: geometric software is easy enough to create, but debugging it and making it truly reliable takes years. Attempts to replace Gerber have until now been idealistic and impractical, because instead of adding the information that was lacking, they proposed to replace Gerber's image transfer format, which works so well, with another image format that is incredibly difficult to get right, and then add the miss- ing information, which is actually the most straightforward part to add. It's a bit like using a sledgehammer to swat a fly and of course the market has not followed. And so we come on to Gerber X2, which does what those other formats might have done well to do: it's a compatible extension of Gerber X1. It leaves in place what works—the image—and adds the information that is miss- ing: the layer structure, the netlist, and where the vias are. It's simple and it takes what works and builds on it, and it is gaining market share very rapidly. ODB++ has achieved a modest mar- ket share after 25 years of ceaseless marketing, and all other attempts at radically new formats have failed up to now. X2 has achieved over 10% of market in our installed base in just two years, and its use is increasing month by month. The reason? Simplicity and compatibil- ity. People stick with Gerber because Gerber is simple, and replacing it is complicated and not worth the bother. And they will continue to use Gerber in the coming 50 years, albeit an evolved Gerber, with new capabilities added in a compatible way. Shaughnessy: Thanks for your time, Karel. Tavernier: Thank you, Andy. DESIGN007 A Northwestern engineering professor, working in conjunction with the global beauty company L'Oréal, has developed the smallest wearable device in the world. The wafer-thin, feather-light sensor can fit on a fingernail and precisely measures a person's exposure to UV light from the sun. The device, as light as a raindrop and smaller in circum- ference than an M&M, is powered by the sun and contains the world's most sophisticated and accurate UV dosim- eter. It was unveiled at CES in Las Vegas and will be called UV Sense. UV Sense has no moving parts, no battery, is waterproof and can be attached to almost any part of the body or clothing, where it con- tinuously measures UV exposure in a unique accumulation mode. Rogers said the device, created in a partnership with L'Oréal, is meant to stick on a thumbnail — a stable, rigid surface that ensures robust device adherence. It's also an optimal location to measure exposure to the sun. Researchers Develop World's Smallest Wearable Device

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