Why you should supply us with Gerber X2 files.

The benefits of the Gerber X2 format

Perfectly understanding customer data and not losing any PCB design information in data transfer, are key issues to seemlessly produce and deliver quick turn around PCB prototypes.

In our BLOG section we already explained the history of the Gerber Format. We have written a white paper on which actions we need to perform once we have received your data to check them and make them production ready. And we have informed you that UCAMCO is no longer supporting the old Gerber RS-274D format.

Gerber X2 is todays” standard. Why should you use it?

X2 adds intelligence to the Gerber format by its use of attributes. When PCB Vislualizer processes your new job, attributes allow the software to put the layers directly in the correct position in the stack-up. Other attributes identify the via pads, the SMD pads and so on. This avoids manual interaction and offers extra info for DRC and DFM checks. UCAMCO”s Gerber X2 intro movie offers a sneak preview in the CAM-engineers environment where he uses a UCAM system reading in X2 and experiencing its benefits.

CAD systems – KiCAD, Pulsonix, Easy-PC, DipTrace and Altium – can all generate Gerber X2 files. UCAMCO cooperated with the CAD and other software vendors to validate their X2 output. We like the efficiency of X2, please use it as It will improve data transfer from you to us in a safe and practical way. 

All about the Gerber format on the UCAMCO website

Eurocircuits ULP for EAGLE users

Eurocircuits ULP for EAGLE users – start calculating prices directly from your board parameters.

Users of EAGLE version 6 or higher can install a ULP from Eurocircuits to allow fast price calculations for their PCB based upon their board parameters.


The ULP transfers the basic PCB parameters to the Eurocircuits price calculation page and opens it with these parameters filled out in the appropriate fields. The user then only needs to fill in the non-Gerber details to complete the calculation. This can be performed at all times even if the final details of your design are not fully ready yet.



To install the ULP download the zip file containing installer via this link. Extract the zip file and Double-click the eurocircuits-button.exe file and the installer will open this screen.



The ULP installs a button in you EAGLE navigation bar.


Using polygons in EAGLE

POLYGONS are needed for a number of different tasks in a PCB design:

  • As a ground plane under RF lines like microstripe or coplanar lines.
  • As a power plane (for example Vcc) and/or groundplane, to create a low resistance connections.
  • Generally to make a low resistance connection for tracks that carry a high current.

To define a valid POLYGON in EAGLE you must follow some rules:

  • The POLYGON outline must be a closed contour. The contour must be drawn in the correct sequence and with one line. It cannot be built up in sections. When you have drawn the complete closed contour, the outline changes from a solid to a dotted line.
  • A valid POLYGON should not overlap itself.

Use the RATSNEST command to calculate and display the surface of the Polygon. Type in the command Line “Ratsnest” or use the Command button.


A Polygon which overlaps itself cannot be calculated. An Error Message will appear: “Signal contains an invalid Polygon”.



When you have solved the error use the RATSNEST command again, to calculate and display the surface of the POLYGON. Use RIPUP @ ; to switch back to outline mode.


Polygon options can be changed via the parameter toolbar


Or, under Properties, right click on the POLYGON outline.


– specifies the thickness of the line used to fill the POLYGON.

TIP: Select the largest possible line width. Too fine lines create unnecessarily large files when you output the data for manufacture. In any case the line used to fill the polygon should never be less than the minimum line width in the layout.

Polygon pour – specifies the fill type. The preferred fill is a whole area (Solid) fill, but you can also select a grid (Hatch) fill. If you choose Hatch fill, make sure that you set a suitable value under Spacing. The combination of line width and spacing must leave openings large enough for production. You can find more information in our PCB Design Guidelines – Copper Layers

The special type CUTOUT is used to define POLYGONS that are cut out (subtracted) from all other signal POLYGONS within the same layer. Cutouts are typically used to define restricted areas in polygons on inner signal layers. It is the only case where a POLYGON can be drawn with a line of width “0”. The CUTOUT option is only used to define the open space and therefore it does not generate additional data. Draw a Polygon and set the option in Properties to Cutout. Run again the command Ratsnest and the Polygon with open space is displayed.


– defines the isolation distance between the POLYGON and all other copper objects that do not carry the same electrical signal or objects in the Dimension, tRestrict or bRestrict layer. Set the value to 0 if you want to use the isolation value defined in the DRC Rules. If there is enough space in the layout, we recommend a minimum isolation between plane and copper of 0.25mm. The soldermask window around a pad is typically 0.1 mm on all sides. An isolation distance of 0.25 mm compensates for any manufacturing tolerance when the soldermask is applied and ensures that there are no exposed areas on the copper plane which could short to an adjacent pad. For tight complex designs, we can accept smaller values. Check our PCB Design Guidelines for Soldermask to choose a tolerance.

Picture below shows the standard soldermask window around a pad – 0.1 mm on all sides.


– set values in this box to prevent overlapping POLYGONS from creating shorts. The Rank value determines which POLYGONS are to be subtracted from others. A POLYGON with rank = 1 has the highest priority in the Layout, so no other POLYGON drawn in the layout is ever subtracted from it. A POLYGON with rank = 6 has the lowest priority. If it is overlapped by a higher rank polygon the overlap area is cut out from the lower ranked POLYGON. POLYGONS with the same rank are checked by the DRC to ensure that there are no shorts. The rank property works only for POLYGONS with different signals. Overlapping POLYGONS with the same signal names are simply drawn one over the other.

Thermal – determines whether pads and drill holes in the POLYGON are connected using Thermal relief pads, or if they are connected directly to the copper plane. This applies to vias as well if the via option has been activated in the design rules.


The width of the thermal connectors should normally be set as half of the pad”s drill diameter, with a minimum value of the wire width of the POLYGON and a maximum of twice the wire width. The length of the thermal connectors is defined by the Thermal isolation value in the Design Rules” Supply tab.


1. Don”t set too fine a wire width for the POLYGON, or the thermal connectors won”t be able to handle the current load. The DRC will warn if this is the case (see illustration).
2. This also applies to necked POLYGONS. The minimum width of the copper area (neck) is determined by POLYGON’S wire width.

Orphans – Determines if a POLYGON may contain areas (islands) which are not electrically connected to the POLYGON”S signal. If Orphans is set to Off, such un-connected areas won”t be drawn.

New major EAGLE software update

Today, CadSoft released a major update for its EAGLE CAD software. Version 7.4 not only solves bugs but also introduces important new software functionality. All new features in version 7 can be viewed here in chronological order.

CadSoft takes this opportunity to offer interesting conditions to purchase new licenses and upgrades.

NEW licenses

10% on new licenses. Customers who do not have a paid license will receive a 10% on new licenses purchased before 30th September 2015.

Upgrade campaigns

V6 customers

  • 20% discount on upgrades purchased between 1st and 30th September 2015
  • 15% discount on upgrades purchased between 1st and 31st October 2015
  • 10% discount on upgrades purchased between 1st and 30th November 2015

This offer is valid for license owners of EAGLE version 6 licenses. Discount not combinable with other discounts and only applicable for the existing license. The discount cannot be applied on the purchase of additional modules, users or a bigger edition.

V5 customers

  • 40% discount on upgrades purchased between 1st September and 31st December 2015

This offer is valid for license owners of EAGLE version 5 licenses. Discount not combinable with other discounts and only applicable for the existing license. The discount cannot be applied on the purchase of additional modules, users or a bigger edition. Offer valid until 31st December 2015.

New MAKE rental licenses

On top of this CadSoft releases a new product portfolio, called “EAGLE Make”. For now EAGLE Make includes two license schemes: EAGLE Make Pro and EAGLE Make Personal. EAGLE Make Pro is a rental license and EAGLE Make Personal is the license previously known as the Hobbyist version.

They are both released with a promotional 20% discount. The campaign runs till 31st October 2015.

All prices and discounts mentioned here are reflected in our EAGLE license calculator :

  • Prices mentioned here are excluded from any taxes. The prices including the correct taxes are only presented in the calculator as only there we can establish the correct country depended values for the taxes. And only from there can one order.
  • Discounts can only be granted when the order and payment are received before the discount specific expiring date.


EAGLE Standard

EAGLE Professional

EAGLE Make Personal
(previous known as EAGLE Hobbyist)

EAGLE Make Pro

License Model





Annual license



Commercial / Educational

Commercial / Educational




Single seat

Multiple seats possible

Multiple seats possible

Single seat

Single seat

Modules included

Layout, Schematic, Autorouter

Possible variations:

  • Layout,Schematic & AutoRouter
  • Layout+Schematic
  • Layout+AutoRouter
  • Layout
  • Schematic

Possible variations:

  • Layout,Schematic & AutoRouter
  • Layout+Schematic
  • Layout+AutoRouter
  • Layout
  • Schematic

Layout, Schematic, AutoRouter

Layout & Schematic













Board size




160×100 mm fixed

1.6 dm² variable

Price (excl. taxes)

62 €

Use our online calculator

Use our online calculator

140 €

250 €

Upgrade prices

(excl. taxes)

Depends on your purchased modules. Use our online calculator to check for possible upgrades.

Depends on your purchased modules. Use our online calculator to check for possible upgrades.

AutoRouter (150 €)

Need to be online






Version updates included

No. Updates according to the strd. CadSoft policy

No. Updates according to the strd. CadSoft policy

No. Updates according to the strd. CadSoft policy

No. Updates according to the strd. CadSoft policy


Upgrade Path






Get more from EAGLE CAD!

Whether you are a new user or an old hand, our new EAGLE CAD web area now includes CAD experts’ tips how to get more out of EAGLE, part of our ongoing campaign to help PCB designers get their projects to market on time and on budget.

The first section “EAGLE schematics to layout basics” has advice and tips for new users on getting the best from the basic elements of EAGLE:

  • How to set-up using the Control Panel
  • How to build your schematic
  • How to find technical data, availability and price for your chosen components
  • How to layout your PCB

The second section “Cutting costs for fine-line PCBS” explains how to design lower cost PCBs. Our experts show how to reduce the price of a 4-layer PCB with BGAs from €750 to €230 by using the right grid, the right design rules and the right via-pad sizes.

Of course, if you are looking for a new CAD system or planning to upgrade your existing EAGLE software, the EAGLE web area sets out the powerful new features in EAGLE V7 and guides you towards the licence best suited to your needs.

PCB design to PCB manufacture

We have worked with CadSoft, the developers of EAGLE, for many years to develop a fast, smooth and risk-free transition between PCB design and manufacture. Features include:

  • Direct input of EAGLE .BRD data files. Users can upload their job files directly into the Eurocircuits website to check their data for manufacturability using PCB Visualizer and get a price or to place an order.
  • Download of EAGLE DRC files (.DRU files) and additional component libraries from major manufacturers. The free-to-download DRU files incorporate the most cost-effective parameters of our pooling services, helping you to achieve the best possible balance of technology and price.
  • Supply of EAGLE CAD packages. Eurocircuits are EAGLE Value-Added Resellers.
  • Workshops on using EAGLE for beginners and for advanced users.

CAD workshops

If you would like to attend a workshop, or if you run a design team or university electronics department and would like to arrange a tailor-made workshop, please contact us via euro@eurocircuits.com.

How to reduce the costs of fine-line PCBs

In this section we will show you how the right component placement and routing can reduce the cost of 10 4-layer BGA PCBs from 740€ to 233€, and deliver a more robust finished product.

Our customers regularly call us to say that they have laid out a PCB with fine-pitch BGAs. The layout looked OK in EAGLE, but when they uploaded the data onto our website they got a message that there were too many DRC errors so we couldn’t produce the board, or, if we could, only at a higher price.

What has gone wrong?

Most designers start their layout using the PCB manufacturer’s standard specification for the smallest standard track and isolation widths and the smallest drill sizes. For Eurocircuits these are:


– 150 µm Track/Gap and 0,25mm Drill End-diameter

– Or for a small but affordable extra charge 125 µm Track/Gap und 0,15 Drill End-diameter

So the designer typically uses the smallest standard drill size, 0.25 mm, for the via holes, routes the tracks in accordance with the standard DRC values and makes sure that tracks are centered between pads.

The results on screen looks OK. So the designer uploads his data right away into the online data checker, PCB Visualizer, but then he finds that there are errors everywhere. He can start to work his way through the list but will soon find that it is nearly impossible to solve all errors. The only solution is to change to a more expensive service.

Typical results for a BGA PCB in PCB Visualizer are:

If the designer accepts the violations, the PCB classification changes to class 9E. The outer/inner layer annular rings (restrings) are so small that he has to reduce the final hole size from 0.25 mm to 0.1mm. Similarly the isolation distances are too small, so he must decrease the minimum track width. We can still make the board, but the price has increased to:

What is the problem?

The designer has not noticed that his components are placed off-grid. Tracks can only be routed on grid so they will automatically snap to grid, causing spacing violations. If the designer doesn’t run a DRC before he uploads his data he is unlikely to spot the violations.

In short:

  • The component grid and the layout grid do not match
  • No account has been taken of component geometry.

“So how do I place and route my BGAs to avoid these issues? I want my design to go through PCB Visualizer and DRC Check without any errors and without having to use a more expensive service.”

First, set the right grid

  1. When you switch from Schematic to Layout the layout grid is set as standard to 0.5 inch. The first step is to check your components. If the finest component is on a metric grid then select mm grid. Then set the grid value. In our example we are using a BGA with 0.8mm pitch, so set the matching grid in EAGLE to 0.2mm.TIPAlways set a grid value that is a half or quarter of the component grid.
  2. Always place the components on the grid. To do this, first display the grid. Then show the center cross of the component by switching on layer tOrigins or bOrigins. If a component center is not on grid, snap it to grid.
  3. To do this, activate the MOVE command. Click on the center cross with Left-mouse button. The center cross will snap to the nearest grid point.
  4. Pads and center cross are now in the correct position. As you route the tracks they will snap automatically to grid, so you can route exactly between the pads without violating the design rules.

Second, select design rule values to reflect the geometry of the components.

Check the geometry of your BGA. In our example the BGA has a pitch of 0.8mm and a pad diameter of 0.4mm. The space from pad edge to pad edge is 0.4mm. Use a track width of 0.125 mm and multiply 3 times this value (= insulation + conductor + insulation). The space required is 0.375mm. So you can safely route a track on grid between two pads.

On the diagonal the center distance pad to pad is 1.1312mm (= sq.rt. (0.802+0.802)). So pad edge to pad edge is 0.7132 (= 1.1312 – 0.4 mm for the pads).

This allows a pad size 0.450 mm with minimum isolation 0.125 mm, minimum annular ring (restring) 0.1mm and drill size 0.25mm. This meets our design rules (DRU file):

You have now selected the right grid size and the right design rules. So your finished design will meet the requirements of classification 8D.


EAGLE does not run an automatic design rule check while you are routing tracks (otherwise you’d get too many errors when you tried to move a track). So from time to time run a DRC manually. That way, there is no risk of errors.

PCB Visualizer displays no errors or remarks.

And the price of our original batch of 10 4-layer PCBs drops from €740 to €233 :


Tip 1: Set up the grid in Layout to match the BGA

To avoid spacing errors set the right grid in Layout. A good value is a half or a quarter of the component pitch. Then place the center cross of the components on the grid.

Tip 2: Set up the via pad and drill sizes to match the tightest BGA pitch.

Here the overall diameters are critical. In our example the best values are:

The inner layer pads require a larger annular ring to accommodate any movement during bonding. This difference between inner and outer layers is already set up in Eurocircuits’ design rules.

Optimum PCB Design Flow

How to achieve an ideal PCB Design flow by using the Eurocircuits smart menus ?

Helping our electronics design customers to define the best PCB layout flow possible and thus save time, avoid communication problems and achieve the best price and reliability for their PCB, is our goal. To achieve this goal, we have created smart menus and PCB visualization tools.

Our BLOG contains an online presentation and a movie.

Smart menus.

The Eurocircuits price calculator is based upon the technology of our PCB Configurator software – part of the PCB Visualization tools on our website. You can use the calculator with or without data. Even without attaching data, you will have the complete Eurocircuits service at your finger tips including all technical validation rules that apply when choosing different technical options for your board.

We therefore call them “smart menus”. They contain:

  • Build-up wizard: including more than 700 pre-defined build-ups including blind and buried via combinations.
  • Panel editor: contains full CAM editing functionality to define a professional customer delivery panel
  • Technical validation: around 300 rules are built into the smart menus to help you to choose only those combinations of options that are viable. All violations are explained and possible corrections proposed. If these are not clear or or do not meet your requirements, you can always get help from our engineers by using the  “launch inquiry” option.
  • Classification wizard: our classification guide shows you the pattern and drill classes available for your chosen base copper foils.
  • Price guidance: on every option you choose, the smart menu informs you if there will be a slight cost increase or if the board is no longer poolable.  If the board is not poolable then the price will be calculated on the basis of production panels containing only this board. Prices calculations always include a matrix showing alternatives based upon other more favourable quantities and delivery terms. You can also define your own price matrix to show your own preferred alternative quantities and deliveries.

Visualization tools

After you have finished your PCB Layout based upon the PCB design parameters you defined using our smart menus , you can load your PCB data into the shopping basket section of your account. Our PCB Visualizer software will then start analysing your data. A few minutes later you will be able to view your board on screen and see the results of the analysis. What can you discover?

  • PCB Configurator: you can view the board and the analysis based upon the order details entered into the price calculator.  If you use the alternative pricing option “Analyse my data”, PCB Visualizer will fill out the board parameters in the calculator menu and present its analysis based on our default values.  In either case, go through the order details, viewing all the comments and any possible design rule check (DRC) violations. You can then correct the data to fit the order details, or change the order details to fit the data. Other CAM data preparation functions available include:
    • Panel editor: design standard or complex customer panels interactively on screen.
    • Marking editor: add QR-code, UL-logo, text, date codes, etc… if and where you want them
  • PCB Checker: shows the results of the DRC analysis of your data against the order details. You can view all potential errors one by one and decide what to do in each case. PCB Checker also contains DFM functions including plating index, solder paste surface area, possible fiducials in a design, ….

Presentation “Your optimum PCB design flow”

Our presentation takes a tour through all Eurocircuits” smart menus and PCB Visualization tools and shows how they can help you gain time, avoid misunderstandings and save costs by defining an ideal PCB design flow.

View the Presentation – click here

The presentation is best viewed when you open the speaker notes and view them on a second screen. This can be controlled from the option button in the bottom left corner.

MOVIE: How to use our smart menus and PCB Visualizer

This film gives an overview of how to use our smart menus efficiently to determine your PCB layout parameters and how to then use PCB Visualizer to check your layout against your pre-set design values.

You can always view this video in full screen mode by clicking the right symbol  on the navigation bar and upgrade the resolution by clicking the setting symbol .

Optimising your PCB design flow

A new presentation from Eurocircuits can help you optimise your PCB layout workflow.

Optimising your PCB layout workflow

1. Useour smart menusto optimise your PCB design parameters at any stage, even before you start the layout (no data is needed).

  • Choose from 700+ pre-defined multilayer builds
  • Validate your choice of PCB options (board and copper thickness, track/isolation widths, surface finish, etc.). The smart menuswill automatically check them for manufacturability and cost, explain any issues and flag up lower cost alternatives.

2. Use PCB Configuratorto view and check your data-set before you submit your order. Fix any data issues found which could delay production.

3. Use PCB Visualizer toolsto complete production tasks not suited to CAD systems

To see the full presentation, click here.

For more hints and tips see our “How to …” video: Optimising your PCB layout workflow.

Open all summer

All Eurocircuits’ services will be available throughout the summer without interruption.

Technical blogs

We have published over 100 technical blogs during the last 2 years. Here are some recent highlights.

PCB Technology:

Copper and the board edge : what are “copper up to board edge”, “plated holes on board edge” (also called “castellated holes/boards”), and “round-edge plating”plus how to specify and order them

Slots and Cut-outs : how to specify and order slots and cut-outs clearly and safely

Tolerances on PCBs : use these standard tolerances to keep board costs down

RF pool – insight and details : new RF materials and builds in our updatedRF pooling service

Blind and buried vias : what are they and how do you specify and order them

What is the smallest distance allowed between two holes?

How often can you raise a Eurocircuits PCB to lead-free soldering temperatures?

PCB Visualizer: interactive online PCB data solutions

Panel editor : how to design a custom delivery panel, or view Eurocircuits panels before ordering (plus “How to ..” videos)

Marking editor : how to add custom marking (special text, specific locations etc.) to your PCB (plus “How to ..” video)

Buildup wizard and Layer editor updated : how to select optimum multilayer build, add blind/buried vias, confirm/modify layer assignments

Your PCB Visualizer questions answered : the questions users ask most often.

All about Gerber and data

Standard Gerber declared obsolete : Extended Gerber is now almost universally used:it’s faster, safer – and fully compatible with PCB Visualizer

Gerber past, present and future : where the format has come from and where it’s going to.

Extended Gerber extended – Gerber X2 : new Gerber attributes will make design to fabrication transfer faster, safer and easier

Front-end data preparation white paper : what we do with your data before we make your PCB

All about quality of our PCBs

How do we assure the quality of your PCBPart 1 : in-process checks

How do we assure the quality of your PCB Part 2 : final inspection checks

RoHS and lead-free compliance : all our boards are compliant.

Conflict minerals : we do not use conflict minerals

Environment and REACH regulation : our environmental policy

Ordering PCBs

Pre-production approval : how to view and confirm our production-ready data before we start manufacturing your PCBs

New timeline order tracker : see clearly where your order is, whether you can make any changes and when it will be shipped

BINDI pool : our new service from our newly-opened factory in India gives Asian prices with European quality

PCB Services : overview of our PCB order-pooling services and how to use them

Soldering technology

New generation eC-reflow-mate reflow oven : better soldering control and more comfortable operation

Through-hole component soldering using our eC-reflow-mate : pin in paste technology

We have an on-going program of technical papers, but if there are particular topics on which you would like us to produce a blog, please email your usual sales contact or euro@eurocircuits.com.

Standard Gerber declared obsolete

Can standard Gerber still be used to order PCBs?

As you can read from Ucamco”s announcement, Standard Gerber (RS-274D) is declared obsolete as input format for their Computer Aided Manufacturing tools for PCB production. You can read the Ucamco statement here.

Eurocircuits has for a long time promoted the use of Extended Gerber (RS-274X) for communicating PCB designs as described in our BLOGs:

It”s safer, faster and fully compatible with our PCB Visualizer tools.  PCB Visualizer cannot process Standard Gerber files as they are incomplete, lacking the built-in shape definition tables etc…

We therefore support Ucamco”s decision to declare the Standard Gerber (RS-274D) format obsolete.

=> Yes, you still can use Standard Gerber (RS-274D) but we STRONGLY recommend you to use Extended Gerber (RS-274X) instead.

If you have any questions on outputting Extended Gerber, please contact us via our Chat service or email us at


This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

.  If you need boards made from old files which are only available in Standard Gerber, please contact us on a case by case basis.

We recommend you to also read Ucamco”s announcement in this BLOG.

Open Letter to the Gerber User Community

Please use Extended Gerber for all your operations.
Standard Gerber is technically obsolete.  If you are still using it, you are putting your business and that of your clients and business partners at a useless risk, without benefit.

As the developer and custodian of the Gerber format, Ucamco hereby wishes to communicate the following important information about Standard Gerber.

Standard Gerber is now technologically obsolete.

  • Despite its name, Standard Gerber is not a defined standard for PCB data transfer:  Units and aperture definitions, rather than being governed by a recognisable standard, are in an informal document, the interpretation of which is unavoidably subjective. As a result, Standard Gerber files cannot be machine-read in a standardized, reliable way.
  • Standard Gerber requires aperture painting and copper pours, both of which create manual work in CAM, adding cost, delay and risk to the PCB manufacturing process.
  • Standard Gerber does not support attributes.

Extended Gerber files ARE machine readable, they do not require painting, and they do support attributes. Virtually all software read Extended Gerber and many new implementations no longer support Standard Gerber. There is not a single good reason left to use Standard Gerber. Using of Standard rather than Extended Gerber is a self-inflicted competitive disadvantage.

Extended Gerber fully supersedes Standard Gerber. Extended Gerber is the current Gerber format. Standard Gerber files therefore do not comply with the Gerber specification.

Ucamco”s position regarding the Gerber format is therefore as follows:  Any party that chooses Standard rather than fully standardized Extended Gerber is responsible for any issues that might arise as a result of its use.

Thank you.

Karel Tavernier
Managing Director

Read the full article – with detailed motivation – in pdf format

Slots and cut-outs

Milling, slots and cut-outs – hints and tips.

One of the most frequent questions we get asked via our support services is “how to I define slots in my PCB?”.  Slots and cut-outs also generate many exceptions, which may lead to delivery delays.  Some exceptions occur because the definition of the slots is not clear; others because slots and cut-outs are in the data but not in the order.


“Routing” describes the cutting of the board profile, outline or contour.  We use a 2 mm cutter for this.  Any feature which can be cut with the 2 mm cutter is part of the profile.

“Milling” refers to any slots or cut-outs inside the PCB, but also to any slots in the profile of the PCB which can’t be cut with a 2 mm cutter.

How do I define my slots?

Gerber mechanical layer.

The safest and clearest way is in a Gerber mechanical layer which shows the slots/cut-outs and the profile of the PCB. Two possible ways forward:

  1. Use draws and/or flashes with the correct end size of the slot/cut-out
  2. Draw the slots/cut-outs with a 0.50 mm line.  It has the advantage that at the same time the line helps you to visually check the clearance of any copper to the board edge. Our engineers will take the centre of the line as the edge of the slot.

Combine your definition of the slots/cut-outs with the PCB contour (outline) into one Gerber file. This layer should line up with the copper layers, but to be as safe as possible make sure that the copper layers also include the PCB outline.

Different systems have different names for the mechanical layer (for instance in EAGLE it is layer Milling – layer 46).  Provided that you have included milling in your order (see below) our engineers will find the right file.

If there is no mechanical layer, you may have to adapt another layer.  If there could be any doubt which is the right file, point to it in a README file.

Avoid defining slots only in a copper layer or in a legend layer, as they are then very easy to overlook or misunderstand.  You can indicate large cut-outs in a copper or legend layer, but make sure that there is a clear outline, and put text CUTOUT in the middle.

Drill file.

Some CAD systems allow you to define slots in the drill file.  This is also safe and clear.  But they must be defined as slots with an X & Y dimension, not as a row of overlapping holes.


We take slots with copper on top and bottom to be plated.  Give the dimension of the finished slot size.  We will make the necessary adjustments for the plating.

Slots with no copper on top and/or bottom layer are non-plated.  If you need non-plated slots through copper pads, indicate this clearly in the mechanical layer or in a separate drill file.


This pictures shows the customer data:

customer file

  • an outline file containing some cut-outs (contour file, drawn with a 0.50mm line) – yellow
  • a drill file containing all drill holes and large round cut-outs defined as flashed hole – blue
  • a routing layer containing all slots defined as tracks with the correct slot sizes – red

PCB top view

The result shown on the final board. Note also the difference between the plated slot and the non-plated cut-out.

How do I order my slots?

In the Price calculator menu go to the section headed PCB definition and then to the Milling box.  There is a choice of 3 cutters: 2 mm, 1.2 mm and 0.50 mm.  Select the one which is the same size as, or smaller than, your smallest slot size.  Note that you cannot use a 0.5 mm cutter on board thicknesses greater than 2.00 mm.

If your board has slots or cut-outs, make sure that you fill in the Milling box.  It alerts our engineers that your board need milling.

1.2 mm and 0.5 mm cutters are cost-options.  If they have not been selected, we will need to increase the price of the PCB so our engineers will raise an exception.  There is no charge for the 2.00 mm cutter as it will cut the slots at the same time as it cuts the profile – but still complete the box so that we know that you need slots or cut-outs.

How do I check my slots?

PCB Visualizer is an automatic Gerber pre-production analyser.  Gerber is a pure vector format with, at present, no built-in attributes.  So PCB Visualizer cannot always detect structures like slots and cut-outs. What is possible at the moment:

  1. Your slots/cut-outs are defined using flashes and/or draws, placed in a separate mechanical layer and this layer lines up perfectly with all other layers => PCB Visualizer has no troubles recognizing all slots/cut-outs and displays them correctly.
  2. Your slots/cut-outs are drawn with a line (0.50mm). PCB Visualizer will display the line but the material inside the line will not be removed from the image. Our engineers will find and define them when they prepare the tooling for the PCB. Once this is done, you can view the prepared data in PCB Visualizer as the “Production data” rather than the “Customer data”.

If you want to check that the slots and cut-outs are correct before the board goes into production, set up pre-production approval by clicking the “Request pre-production approval box” under Running orders.  The job will then be halted after tool data preparation for you to check.

If you have any questions, contact our Live Chat support.