What is the Gerber Format?
The Gerber format is the standard format for exchanging production data for printed circuit boards. It is used at the interface between circuit board development and circuit board production. The Gerber format was developed back in 1980. In 1998 it was expanded and is known as RS-274X or “ Extended Gerber “Very widespread to this day. All common CAD programs that are used for the development of printed circuit boards can export the developed projects into Gerber format.
What are the alternatives to the Gerber format?
In addition to the Gerber format, another format for the exchange of circuit board data between development and production was created in the 1990s – the ODB ++ format. In contrast to the Gerber format, it contains significantly more information from the exported development project. For example, information about network lists of the circuit board is exported, which the Gerber format does not contain. In addition, information on the holes used in the circuit board is also supplied.
For subsequent processing and checking the production readiness of a printed circuit board ( DFM ) For this reason, the ODB ++ format offers a much better basis than the Gerber format.
In recent years, many major PCB companies have joined the ODB ++ Solutions Alliance joined to promote the adoption of the format in the printed circuit board market. Nevertheless, the Gerber format is still the standard format in today’s printed circuit board production. According to various circuit board manufacturers, the proportion of projects that are transmitted in ODB ++ format is still in the lower single-digit percentage range.
How is Gerber data visualized?
There are various software products that can be used to visualize Gerber data. Some products are chargeable, while others are intended for free use. Most of the existing Gerber viewers must be installed as software on a suitable operating system. These include, for example:
- GerbV – The open source Gerber Viewer
- GC-Prevue – A paid Gerber Viewer
- GerberLogix – A Gerber Viewer that is free to some extent
In addition to these and other programs, there are also some viewers that are web-enabled. These have the advantage that no software has to be installed to visualize the Gerber data. However, the majority of the available online Gerber viewers do not offer the range of functions that the classic Gerber viewers offer.
The Stackrate Online Gerber Viewer
The web-based Gerber Viewer is an essential part of the Stackrate platform. Within the platform, this is used for the simple representation of the circuit board, but also for the graphic representation of deviations and errors in the design ( WebDFM ) is used. The Stackrate Viewer offers an extensive range of functions that go far beyond the functionalities of the other viewers.
Navigation in the Gerber Viewer
The Stackrate Online Gerber Viewer offers extremely intuitive navigation. A graphic representation of the layer structure of the circuit board is always present on the left side of the viewer. By choosing different locations in the Stackup the user decides which layer should be shown or hidden.
The file names of the assigned layers can be displayed within the stack-up so that it is always possible to understand how the layer structure is composed. The color coding also makes it clear which specification is available for the respective circuit board. The solder stop layer is shown here in green, for example, but it can also take on other colors.
Navigation in the Gerber Viewer
Visualize the conductor path
For the display and analysis of the provided Gerber data, the Stackrate platform first converts it into its own data format. For this purpose, a lot of information that was lost when the circuit board was exported to Gerber format is first determined again. With the help of complex algorithms, it is determined, for example, which objects belong to a coherent conductor track and which do not.
With the Stackrate Online Gerber Viewer it is possible to precisely track every conductor track and to understand which objects are connected and which are not. There is also the option of displaying information on the existing networks.
Measure on the circuit board
The Stackrate Online Gerber Viewer has an integrated tool for measuring distances between any objects. In this way, the correct interpretation of the Gerber data can be traced and the final manual tests can be carried out easily before the production of the circuit board.
The ability to display a right-angled triangle for diagonal measurements helps with the precise placement of the measuring tool and can be activated by simply pressing the shift key.
Information on drilling
Detailed drill info
In the Gerber Viewer it is possible to show information about the holes in the circuit board and to visualize the holes. A distinction is made between holes that are used for through-hole plating (plated) and mechanical holes that are used, for example, for the subsequent assembly of the circuit board.
The displayed drilling information makes it possible to quickly and easily get an impression of how many drilling tools are being used and whether the individual holes are correctly placed.
“I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. “
The innovative Stackrate Online Gerber Viewer can be used for online visualization of Gerber data.