How to fix common PCB Gerber file issues?
With electronic technology making its way to different fields, the use of PCBs has become ubiquitous. PCB designers & manufacturers are therefore increasingly working towards developing PCBs that are robust & more efficient. This is extremely critical especially when PCBs are being deployed in mission-critical operations where any mistakes can turn out to be extremely costly. One way to do this is to ensure that the Gerber files and the digital blueprints of the PCB are robust. Any errors in the Gerber files can prove to be fatal as they can lead to PCB failure.
Ensuring that Gerber files are therefore complete & accurate is key. Let us look at how to fix PCB gerber file problems.
Here are some of the most common ways to fix common PCB Gerber file issues:
Empty Gerber Files: It may sound incredulous, however, there have been enough & more instances where a Gerber file is an empty or a “zero-byte” file. This can happen on account of many reasons, the most common one being that the data is accidentally deleted. It is therefore imperative that each Gerber File be properly checked before it is sent onwards.
Incomplete Files: If enough attention isn’t paid to the Gerber files, you could have instances where the Gerber file is incomplete. Missing information can prove to be dangerous as it may lead to a board that does not match up to the desired levels.
Improper Labeling: If the labeling of the Gerber files isn’t in line with the established protocols, it has the scope of leading to a wide variety of errors.
Too Many Aperture Lists: It is important that the Gerber File has a single aperture list with all the details. Multiple aperture lists are a source of confusion. It is also important that the format of the aperture list is the same as that of the Gerber Files.
Composite Layer Design Errors: In case composite layers are generated while generating individual layer design specifications, the images need to be combined so that one Gerber file is created for each layer.
Missing Board Outline: Sometimes when Gerber files are generated, the board outline is not produced by default. It is important that the actual bounds of the board edge be described.
Missing Drill files – A drill file is required to create any through-hole footprints that might be present in the design. For software packages where a separate option is required for generating drill files, it is important that it is not missed.
Issues with other design files – It is always good to crosscheck that any revisions that have been made to your design are reflected in the Gerber files, Bill of Materials as well as the Centroid File so that there is no scope of any error.
Vectorized Pads: In some cases, rather than generating the pad as one solid object in the Gerber files, the software may output a cluster of small vectors that together form the pad. It is important therefore that the software is set at generating “ Flash Pads” as opposed to “Vector Pads”.
To sum up
While the good news is that it is easy to avoid Gerber File errors, the bad news is that any errors made can lead to far-fetched consequences; consequences that are expensive, time consuming and that can cost you your company reputation. As they say, it is better to be safe than sorry. It is important therefore that any sources of potential errors in Gerber Files are checked & fully eliminated. Some simple ways to ensure that you avoid Gerber File errors include:
- Making use of a Gerber file viewer
- Printing a simple board. This will allow you to see that the specifications are correct & that there are no errors or omissions.
- Making use of high-definition CAD software
- Importantly, making use of Quality Control practices throughout the design process.
- Choosing your PCB partner with care. The right partner will ensure that a rigorous Quality Assurance process is undertaken. This will include checking the Gerber file thoroughly so that there are no costly errors at a later stage & that the PCB that is manufactured is to the specifications & adheres to stringent quality parameters.
Technotronix is one of the leading providers of PCB manufacturing services to all the dominant industries. With over four decades of experience in delivering high quality, on-time, competitive products, you can rely on us for your PCB requirements. Also, you can drop an email to email@example.com or give us a call on 714/630-9200 to solve your queries or to get a quote.