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76 The PCB Design Magazine • April 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 transfer- red 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 par- tners clearly and simply, using an unequivocal yet versatile language that enables you and them to get the very best out of your design data. Chapter 9: Drawings are no Substitute for Data Drawings may be a useful part of a PCB fabrication data set, but they are no substitute for digital data. There must be a digital data file for each pattern in the PCB: copper lay- ers, drill-and-route files, solder masks, legends, peelables and whatever other patterned layers are present. For example adding a drill map may be use- ful but it is not a substitute for a proper drill file. Drilling is done with a CNC drill machine, The Gerber Guide Chapters 9 & 10 articLe

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