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80 The PCB Design Magazine • June 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 efficient, reliable, automated and standardized manner? At this moment in time, the honest answer is no, becau- se there 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 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 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 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 13: The File Extension Wikipedia states, "A filename extension is a suffix (separated from the base filename by a dot or space) to the name of a computer file ap- plied to indicate the encoding (file format) of its contents or usage. Examples of filename exten- sions are .png, .jpeg, .exe, .dmg and .txt." Microsoft states, "A file name extension is a set of characters added to the end of a file name that determine which program should open it." The advantage of this rule is that the file format is clear without first opening the file, and, consequently, so is the preferred ap- plication for the file. To quote from the Gerber format specification: The Gerber Format has a standard file name extension a registered mime type and a UTI def- inition. Standard file extension: .gbr or .GBR. Use the standard file extension .gbr or .GBR on all Gerber files. All too often, names such as pn674847. top are used, meaning the top layer of job PN674846. This idea dates from the 1980s, the days of MS-DOS, the first Microsoft operating The Gerber Guide Chapters 13 & 14 ARTICLE

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