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70 The PCB Design Magazine • March 2016 by Karel Tavernier UCAMCO It is possible to fabricate PCBs from the fa- brication data sets currently being used; it's being done innumerable times every day all over the glo- be. But is it being done in an efficient, reliable, automated and standardized manner? At this mo- ment in time, the honest answer is no, because the- re is plenty of room for improvement in the way in which PCB fabrication data is currently transferred from design to fabrication. This is not about the Gerber format, which is used for more than 90% of the world's PCB pro- duction. There are very rarely problems with Gerber files themselves; they allow images to be transfer- red without a hitch. In fact, the Gerber format is part of the solution, given that it is the most re- liable option in this field. The problems actually lie in which images are transferred, how the format is used and, more often, in how it is not used. Each month we look at a different aspect of the design to fabrication data transfer process. In this monthly column, Karel Tavernier explains in detail how to use the newly revised Gerber data format to communicate with your fabrication partners clear- ly and simply, using an unequivocal yet versatile language that enables you and them to get the very best out of your design data. Chapter 7: Junk, or the Difference Between Data and Drawings The core of a PCB fabrication data set is its digital data files. These data files will be read into CAM to recreate a model of the PCB and then used for further digital processing. There must be a digital data file, in Gerber, for each pattern in the PCB: copper layers, drill and route files, solder masks, legends, peelables and whatever other patterned layers are present. That said, a PCB fabrication data set may contain technical drawings—indeed, a mechanical The Gerber Guide Chapter 7 & 8 article

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