Gerber files for PCB: How are they important in manufacturing your printed circuit boards?

By | Date posted: | Last updated: June 20, 2023
Gerber Files for PCB

Gerber files are the most commonly accepted design file formats to fabricate and assemble printed circuit boards. They ensure an efficient manufacturing process by standardizing the design data transfer from engineers to PCB manufacturers. Once you complete the circuit design and proceed to order placement, your contract manufacturer will ask for the design files to accurately build your PCBs. If there are any errors in your shared data, then defective boards, extra costs, and time delays are inevitable. To avoid such consequences, Gerber files play a crucial role in PCB manufacturing.

What is a Gerber file? What information does it include?

Gerber files are a set of ASCII vector format files that are used to define the PCB design specifications. They are generated using Electronic Design Automation (EDA) or Computer-Aided Design (CAD) tools to provide information on board configuration parameters, aperture descriptions, XY coordinate locations, and drawing commands. The configuration details are the size and shape of the PCB to be fabricated. Each board layer information is captured in separate files defining the circuit board components like copper traces, pads, vias, solder mask, silkscreen, logos, etc. The position of each geometrical shape as X-Y coordinates are mentioned in the Gerber files and commands are used to draw these shapes on physical boards.

The essential elements of a Gerber file are the board dimensions, outline, top assembly, top silkscreen, top mask, top paste, top copper, inner signal, inner plane, bottom copper, bottom paste, bottom mask, bottom silkscreen, bottom assembly, and fab (giving details of stack-up, drill details, cut-outs, etc). Gerber file extensions generated by Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) tools can be selected by the user. Typically, project names with extensions such as “.TOP” for the top layer, “.BOT” for the bottom layer, and “.drl” for drill hole data are used.

Importance of Gerber files in PCB manufacturing:

A PCB designer has to create the Gerber files using an EDA tool compatible with the PCB manufacturer’s system. Any mismatch in the format or tool version can cause a delay in the fabrication process. The primary purpose of Gerber files is to deliver a reliable PCB order within the expected timeline. There are multiple advantages of using Gerber files in PCB manufacturing as follows:

  1. Gerber files offer intricate design details that can assist PCB manufacturers in building high-quality circuit boards. Contract manufacturers can rely on these files to determine the precise dimensions, pad locations, trace widths, and silkscreen legends to be printed on the board. The accurate data provided by the Gerber files can minimize potential manufacturing errors.
  2. They are compatible with a wide range of CAM tools used by PCB manufacturers. The Gerber files are easily exported from most EDA tools and ensure a smooth transition from design to the production stage in the PCB development cycle. Further, the flexibility of the data format allows contract manufacturers to implement different fabrication and assembly methods, supporting advanced technologies.
  3. The standard format of Gerber files has a key role in establishing a seamless PCB manufacturing process. These files are readable and easily used by different stakeholders like design engineers, layout experts, and assembly line technicians. So, there is reduced ambiguity and minimal reworks in the overall PCB manufacturing process.
  4. Usually, contract manufacturers use Gerber files to run Design for Manufacturability (DFM) checks that allow them to assess the production yield. Also, the same files are used to create fixtures for board inspection and testing. Thus, Gerber files help in the quality control of PCB production.

With the evolving PCB manufacturing processes, design output files have also been upgraded. There are different output files available for PCB fabrication, but the Gerber files remain the most compatible and versatile file format so far.

Gerber file versions and other output formats:

Usually, the board specifications and complexity determine the type and number of Gerber files generated. Different Gerber file formats vary in their data structure but are used to create stencils for PCB fabrication.

RS274-D is the standard Gerber file format and is denoted in the numerical control format. It consisted of XY coordinates and drawing codes. This format is represented with an extension “.gbr” and gained a lot of popularity in the initial days. But this variant requires manual assigning of the aperture codes to generate accurate Gerber files. So, the extended Gerber format was created.

RS274-X is the revised version with an extension “.gbx”. It is in ASCII format and includes all four components of Gerber information (configuration parameters, aperture drawings, XY coordinates, and drawing commands) in one file. In this format, aperture positions are automatically updated.

Gerber X2 is the latest version of Gerber files with additional data like layer stack details, via and pad attributes, impedance-controlled traces, etc. The supported file extensions are “.top”, “.bot” and more. This format is backward compatible with the RS274-X version, yet includes a big set of manufacturing data. Gerber X2 largely eliminates issues like file errors and data ambiguity.

Open Database (ODB) ++ is another data exchange file format that includes the complete information necessary to define a PCB layer in one file. It enables the designer to capture all the data required for DFM checks. For instance, it includes board stack-up, Bill of Materials, dimensions and drill details in one file. It is supported by major CAM and DFM tools.

IPC-2581 is the latest standard for PCB data organization and exchange from CAD to CAM systems during the fabrication and assembly process. It is an open standard for data transfer with no manual intervention. An XML-based file is used to provide all the manufacturing data required by the CAM systems. This standard allows the extraction of design data without any interpretation into CAM systems.


Gerber files are the universal data transfer formats used in the PCB manufacturing industry. They enable high-yield mass production of your PCB products. The latest version, Gerber X2 is popular among PCB manufacturers for delivering high-performance and reliable PCBs. These Gerber files reduce fabrication errors, increase profits and boost product-to-market timelines.

Technotronix is one of the leading providers of PCB manufacturing services to all the dominant industries. Having a strong manufacturing unit with a strong tool room and a team of experts, we are the one that provides cost effective solutions with keeping quality at the nucleus in each stage of PCB manufacturing.

For any kind of PCB requirements, feel free to contact us or drop an email to us at or call us on 714/630-9200.

How do plated through holes improve the performance of PCBs?

By | Date posted: | Last updated: April 28, 2023
PCB Plated Through Hole

When it comes to PCB board design, the use of through hole technology is extremely important. With multi board layers, these holes ensure connection between components and conductors. In turn, through hole may be plated or non-plated.

As their name suggests, plated through holes come with a metal coating inside. They are highly in use where electrical connections cannot be compromised and need to have a high degree of reliability. Some applications where plated through holes find application include connectors, switches and ICs.

Non-plated through holes on the other hand, do not have a metal coating on the inside. In such cases the electrical reliability isn’t as high as that of plated through holes. Non plated through holes are known to work well for passive components such as capacitors and resistors.

Improved performance with plated through holes

The big advantages that plated through holes offer, include:

  • They enable the flow of current via the PCB’s non-conductive substrate. Hence the current can flow through the components on the other side of the board.
  • The added advantage that plated through holes offer is that the hold the components firmly.
  • They also ensure that space available is maximized. In fact, plated through holes allow for vertically stacking the custom printed circuit boards. They therefore lend themselves to high component density & hence to miniaturization.
  • They offer high amount of electrical conductivity.
  • They lend themselves to quicker prototyping as it is easy to solder components on the circuit board.
  • They ensure higher power tolerances as well as durability of components.

By contrast, a non-plated through hole, since it doesn’t have conductive plating, does not allow the flow of current through it. It is, however, the design specification of the board that determines whether a plated or a non-plated through hole will be used. If a plated through hole is put in a scenario where a non-plated one should have been put, it will lead to the charge spreading as also weakening of charge. This could even lead to situations such as a short circuit.

It is therefore important to choose the right PCB contract manufacturer as issues related to plated through holes can impact the functionality of the board. An experienced PCB contract manufacturer will be able to offer right solutions. Some of the problems & likely solutions include:

  • Blistering & lamination – This occurs on account of poor joint adhesion and can be avoided by maintaining cleanliness. Choosing a conformal coating that is less permeable is also an important solution.
  • Roughening of the copper surface – This could lead to blistering. The solution to this lies in checking the humidity in the micro etching machine.
  • Insufficient Copper – This leads to plating voids. It therefore needs to be ensured that the quantity of copper is sufficient.
  • Long storage times – It is imperative that the boards aren’t stored for long after PTH. It fact after PTH the boards should ideally be finished within 8 hours.
  • Plugholes – It is important that the plugholes be done right so that the circuit is not damaged. Aspects to be taken care of include checking the filtering system as also ensuring that there is no panel copper residue or any foreign material on the panel.

To sum up

Plated through holes find extensive application when it comes to multi-layer PCBs. In addition, they are useful in applications where strength of physical connections is key. It is therefore common to witness the use of PTH in aerospace and military applications where durability is a key factor. Plated Through holes also work well for prototyping & testing & therefore goes a long way in ensuring the success of your project.

Non plated through hole (NPTH), on the other hand, works well when it comes to single layer boards.

It is important to make the choice of the right PCB contract manufacturer who is experienced and can ensure that the common issues related to PTH are avoided & the functionality of the board is not compromised. It is important to remember that the design of PTH PCB needs a lot of skill and dexterity. The choice of the right partner can therefore make all the difference.

At Technotronix, we offer comprehensive PCB manufacturing services that come with specialized assistance, dependable testing, and versatile capabilities. If you have any inquiries, do not hesitate to get in touch with us through email at or by calling 714/630-9200. We are always happy to help.

Is ITAR compliance required for printed circuit boards manufacturing?

By | Date posted: | Last updated: April 26, 2023
ITAR PCB Manufacturing

ITAR compliance refers to a regulatory system aimed at controlling the export of military and defense technology. The US Government, therefore, requires all manufacturers and exporters of defense articles to be compliant with ITAR or International Traffic in Arms Regulation. In turn this means a number of companies need to have their supply chains to be ITAR complaint based on the use the end product is being put to. If the product is included in the United States Munitions List, ITAR compliance is required.

It was in 2008 that these contractual limitations were reinforced on federal contractors. Since then, it is imperative that not just companies that provide goods to defense agencies, but also suppliers and other related parties abide by international trade laws such as ITAR

When is ITAR compliance required for PCB?

PCBs fall under Item 14 – Category II of the United States Munitions List. In manufacturing ITAR-compliant printed circuit boards, you need to ensure that access to any unauthorized source is prevented.

Under the following scenarios ITAR Compliance is mandatory:

  • If the product that you are creating with the PCB is in the United States Munitions List.
  • If the PCB is to be used with an item which is on the USML.
  • If you are a buyer, whole seller or exporter of an item that is in the USML.

Some of the additional questions to answer for yourself to determine whether or not you need to be ITAR compliant, include:

  • Is your client a defense contractor?
  • Will the product be used in military or aerospace operations?
  • Is your design or a part thereof, classified?
  • Is your product going to be exported?
  • Is the product listed on USML?

You must include your ITAR compliance in POs, contracts, and information requests. It is also important to remember that since ITAR regulation falls under the Directorate of Defense Trade controls, you need to be registered with DDTC.

How does ITAR compliance affect PCB?

With an ITAR compliance, it is made sure that the technical data for building the printed circuit board is restricted & that it cannot be shared with anyone from any other country. The information & material related to defense & military related technologies can only be shared with US organizations or people unless there is an authorization from the department of State or a special exemption.

The data typically includes the following:

  • Technical Drawing
  • Artwork
  • CNC Data
  • Netlist Information
  • Manufacturing Specification
  • ODB++ data

It is also important to remember that ITAR compliance is restricted not only to PCB manufacturing but also extends to PCB Assemblers. Essentially with an ITAR compliance, you make it clear that that you are aware of the law regarding the manufacture & distribution of PCB & agree to abide by it. With an ITAR certification you can sell your product as well as export it.

How to maintain ITAR compliance?

To maintain ITAR compliance, it is imperative that access to information given by the client is protected. Similarly, the electronic product should not be accessible for evaluation by any unauthorized party.

Importance of ITAR PCB Manufacturing in PCB Industry

To sum up, since PCBs find use in military application, aircraft, spacecrafts and more, an ITAR compliance becomes necessary. It ensures that you work within the law of the land. Additionally, it also makes sure that you protect your Intellectual Property.

To put it succinctly, the compliance of ITAR is needed for the following reasons:

1. Being on the right side of law

You are bound by law to comply. If you produce PCBs without compliance, you face the risk of extremely harsh consequences. In fact, it could even mean shutting down your business while the government investigates the violations. Needless to say, it can severely impact your business and the reputation you have built.

2. Security information

By ensuring compliance you protect your intellectual property and therefore have no fear as the capabilities clearly belong to you.

3. Peace of mind

That it offers complete peace of mind is a given. Being on the right side of the law you can focus on the core area of your business with peace.

Overall, ITAR compliance is necessary to work within the law and protect intellectual property in the PCB industry. At Technotronix, we have over 4 decades of experience in providing PCB industrial solutions. With over four decades of experience in delivering high-quality, on-time, competitive price products, you can bank on us for your PCB requirements.

For any kind of requirements, feel free to contact us or drop an email to us at or call us on 714/630-9200.

Aluminum PCB Boards: A complete guide to understand its properties and applications!

By | Date posted: | Last updated: April 25, 2023
Aluminum PCB Board

Speak of aluminum PCB board and you are sure to speak of their electrical performance as also their thermal dissipation as well as their high dielectric strength. In use since the 1970s, they have in the recent years seen wide spread application.

These PCBs particularly come in extremely handy where high power and tight tolerances are required. The three major layers of an aluminum PCB board include:

  • Circuit Layer – This essentially consists of a copper foil that could vary in weight from 1 to 10 ounce.
  • Thermal Insulation Layer – This is made up of ceramic polymer. The layer is extremely important as it offers both thermal resistance as well as protects the board from mechanical stress.
  • Base Layer – This is made up of aluminum alloy substrate & find wide use where through-hole technology is used.

Classification of Aluminum PCBs

Typically, Aluminum PCB board can be classified into 3 types basis the composition of the dielectric layer. These are:

  • Universal Aluminum PCB – In such PCBs the dielectric layer is composed of epoxy glass fiber prepreg.
  • High Thermal-Conductive Aluminum PCB – Here the dielectric layer is composed of epoxy resin.
  • High-Frequency and Microwave Aluminum PCB – Here the dielectric layer is composed of either polyolefin resin or polyimide resin glass fiber prepreg.

Aluminum PCB boards can also be classified basis their application into:

Flexible Aluminum PCB

With miniaturization becoming increasingly prevalent, the need for flexible PCBs is only growing. Aluminum being naturally flexible, such PCBs are being increasingly used as they can fit smaller spaces.

Hybrid Aluminum PCB

Such PCBs use a combination of different materials for enhanced performance. For example, aluminum added to a FR-4 PCB result in improved heat dissipation abilities.

Through-Hole Aluminum PCB

Aluminum being a good conductor of electricity, it is important that the through-hole aluminum laminates be filled with a dielectric material so that the aluminum layer is isolated. Post filling of the dielectric material, aluminum is stacked & cured. The PCB is next electroplated with a conducting material.

Multi-Layer Aluminum PCB

In such PCBs multiple insulating layers are used. In fact, there can be more than one layer of aluminum as the core. The different layers are then connected through vias.

Properties of Aluminum PCB Board

  • The most important property on account of which Aluminum PCBs find wide spread application is their ability to dissipate heat quickly.
  • The advantage with Aluminum PCBs is also that there is minimal expansion & contraction of components on the board surface.
  • They are also known for their dimensional stability. In fact, when heated upto 150 degrees Celsius they only show a 2.5%-3% change in dimensions.
  • It is also known for its light-weight, strength, and mechanical endurance.
  • Aluminum is known for its durability. With its use the risks of accidental breakage are greatly reduced.
  • It is environment friendly as it is non-toxic as well as recyclable.
  • With aluminum being easy to mine & refine, it is known to be economical.

Application of Aluminum PCB Board

The use of aluminum PCBs is becoming quite ubiquitous on account of their properties. Some of the areas where they find application include:

  • Power transmission systems
  • Power converters
  • Different kinds of lighting
  • Tail light assemblies
  • Scanners
  • Signal beacons
  • Amplifiers & other audio equipment
  • Computer Elements, and more.

To sum up

Aluminum PCB boards are widely in use on account of the fact that they withstand stress, have a high coefficient of thermal expansion, and more. Increasingly with the demand for high current handling, the use of aluminum PCBs is only growing. Coupled with edge plating & surface finishes aluminum PCBs are also known to work well in tough environmental conditions.

While there are various types of aluminum PCBs that come with their distinct advantages, it is important to go with a trusted electronics contract manufacturer whose expertise can improve the performance of PCBs. For example, an experienced manufacturer can make sure that if you need controlled impedance, modeling is undertaken. Similarly, tailoring signal reflections can go a long way in improving signal integrity. Manufacturer experience will also ensure that thorough Design Rule Checks are undertaken for designing such PCBs so that the manufacturing process is optimized.

If you have any questions or any requirements related to PCB manufacturing service, please feel free to contact us via email at or call 714/630-9200.