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22 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2019 Feature by Karel Tavernier UCAMCO Every so often, I hear technologists ask why so many PCB designers still use Gerber. That is a fair question. Ucamco has over 35 years of experience in developing and supporting cutting-edge software and hardware solutions for the global PCB industry. Our customers— small, medium, and large PCB fabricators—in - clude the electronics industry's leading com- panies, and many of them have been with us for over 30 years. We are dedicated to our in- dustry and excellence in everything we do, which includes our custodianship of the Gerber format. Data Intelligence With us, the Gerber format has undergone a significant evolution in the past 10 years, and a near revolution in the past five years alone. Like the previous Ex- tended Gerber (X1) format, today's Gerber X2 is simple, easy to use, and freely available to our industry, but simple and free doesn't mean dumb—far from it. Thanks to the use of cleverly designed attributes, Gerber X2 is an intelligent format that can do all of the things that some critics say it can't. Gerber X2 can differentiate between pins, vias, and trac- es, and anyone who cares to read section 5.6 of the Gerber X2 specification will see that it does so in more detail and with greater precision than the ODB++ and IPC-2581 formats. The industry's professionals know this be- cause we talk with our customers daily and listen very carefully to what they tell us about being at the electronics production coalfa- ce. What they tell us is confirmed by a quick glance at the industry's use of the different for- mats. IPC-2581 is used for a negligible fraction of the world's fabrication data sets, ODB++ is used for 5%, Gerber X2 is used for 10%, and the rest— the vast ma- j o r i t y — u s e s the traditional Gerber X1 for- mat. Supporters of ODB++ and IPC- 2581 point to the "intelligence" of these PCB data formats, but Ger- ber X2 is the glob- al PCB industry's most popular intel- ligent PCB data format. Sure, these formats are more intelligent than the old Ger- ber X1, which can't differentiate between SMD and BGA pins. But when ODB++ was launched, it did not contain any component information either. Figure 1 shows an apples-to-apples compari- son of ODB++, IPC-2581, and Gerber X2. These Why Does the PCB Industry Still Use Gerber?

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