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32 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I OCTOBER 2021 Feature Interview by the I-Connect007 Editorial Team Over the last few years, IPC-2581 has hit sev- eral milestones: Revision C was released in late 2020 and it now includes complete build intent for rigid-flex circuits. It is also integrated with IPC's Connected Factory Exchange assembly format. To learn more, the I-Connect007 Editorial Team spoke with Ed Acheson, a senior princi- pal product engineer with Cadence Design Sys- tems. Ed is also one of the developers behind the IPC-2581 design data transfer format. He walks us through the ins and outs of IPC-2581, and explains why he believes this open-source format could be just what PCB designers and fabricators need today and tomorrow. Andy Shaughnessy: Ed, would you give us a basic background on IPC-2581 and how it developed out of the previous format efforts? Ed Acheson: Back in the late 1990s, there was an effort to form a standard format for exchang- ing data from electronic CAD systems into manufacturing. At the time, there were a cou- ple of formats that were fairly common. One was Gerber, and the other was ODB. e idea of having an IPC-recognized standard was to form something that everybody could work with. ere would be nothing proprietary about it, and the idea was to make it more intel- ligent than the original format. People started thinking, "I could use this to archive data for an entire design." As they were going through it, they said, "Okay, where do we start?" Well, you start with the GenCAM format and try to merge a couple other formats into it. ey spoke to the people at Valor and worked with them to get ODBX, which is the XLM ver- sion of ODB and the base that was the start- ing point for having an XML formatted file. e nice part about XML, they realized, is its being an extensible language that you can build on. You start with basic elements, and as new features and new technology changes, it's very easy to adopt it into that format. ey released the first version of it, version A, but it wasn't too popular. Nobody could really see an advan- The Case for IPC-2581: Interview With Ed Acheson Ed Acheson

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