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66 The PCB Design Magazine • May 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 globe. But is it being done in an ef- ficient, reliable, automated and standardized manner? At this moment in time, the honest answer is no, because there is plenty of room for improvement in the way in which PCB fabrica- tion 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 production.There are very rarely problems with Gerber files themselves; they allow images to be transferred without a hitch. In fact, the Gerber format is part of the solution, given that it is the most reliable option in this field. The pro- blems actually lie in which images are transfer- red, 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 pro- cess. In this monthly column, Karel Tavernier explains in detail how to use the newly revised Gerber data format to communicate with your fabrication partners 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 11: Non-image Data A PCB Fabrication set contains general PCB specifications such as thickness, finishes, ROHS compliance, etc., as well as commercial data: number ordered, addresses, delivery time. There is currently no common standard governing this type of data. It is typically delivered as informal or formal data in plain text or in PDF files intended for human eyes. The Gerber Guide Chapters 11 & 12 ARTICLE

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