Gerber RS-274X is the de facto standard for PCB design software, but that doesn’t necessarily make it the best. Despite its popular use in about 90% of all PCBs designed worldwide, this file format has several practical limitations that can lead to a number of problems during the fabrication process.
Limitations of Gerber RS-274X
There are several limitations of the Gerber X format that many designers are painfully aware of. If you’ve experienced these problems, then you’ll know what we’re talking about:
Have you ever received boards with copper layers out of order?
Have you ever received boards with drill holes that were mis-registered or even completely missing?
Have you ever had to explain to management or a client how a misinterpreted fabrication note caused a schedule delay?
Gerber RS-274X may be extremely accurate and reliable for rendering precise images of copper shapes on signal and plane layers. However, the problem is that the standard does not take into account all other aspects of PCB fabrication and assembly.
For instance, there’s the transfer of the layer stackup order and materials information, drill data, Pick & Place data, BOM data, Netlist, Test Point Report, and more. All of these other data sets must be generated as a separate process by a separate utility. Simply put, Gerber RS-274X format does not transfer the complete design from the design domain (CAD) to the manufacturing domain (CAM).
Transfer from the design domain (CAD) to the manufacturing domain (CAM)
What Are the Alternatives?
In order to eliminate these problems, it’s necessary to adopt a design transfer standard that takes into account all aspects of fabrication and assembly data. Fortunately, two new open standards have recently been released which enable accurate, efficient data exchange between PCB designers and manufacturing fabricators and assemblers. Download our free Alternatives to Gerber RS-274-X whitepaper to find out what they are.
About the Author
With an emphasis on microprocessor systems design, John earned his Bachelor of Science degree from SUNY Polytechnic Institute. He initially worked as a design engineer in the Defense industry developing diagnostic test programs for complex PCBs. Subsequently, John has worked as a senior application engineer in the EDA industry supporting a wide range of ASIC, FPGA, and PCB design and verification solutions.More Content by John Magyar