Input Data Formats

Introduction

The Data Input Formats are the file formats that we can accept for the transfer of your design from your CAD-system to our Computer Aided Manufacturing system (CAM-system).

Accepted Formats and their Performance in Certain Tasks

The table below shows the formats we can accept and how convenient they are for us to retrieve the information needed to perform the task listed.

Task

Native CAD Formats

Other Formats

Eagle BRD
KiCAD
Gerber X3
Gerber X2plus
Gerber X
ODB++
Data Input
✓ ✓ ✓
✓ ✓ ✓
✓ ✓ ✓
✓ ✓ ✓
✓ ✓
✓ ✓ ✓
Layer Mapping/Copper Layer Count
✓ ✓ ✓
✓ ✓ ✓
✓ ✓ ✓
✓ ✓ ✓
✓ ✓ ✓
Outline/PCB Size
✓ ✓
✓ ✓
✓ ✓

✓ ✓

✓ ✓
Drill Classification (PTH/NPTH)
✓ ✓ ✓
✓ ✓ ✓
✓ ✓ ✓
✓ ✓ ✓
✓ ✓ ✓
BOM
CPL
✓ ✓ ✓
✓ ✓ ✓
✓ ✓ ✓
✓ ✓ ✓
IMPORTANT

The BOM information held in a CAD system is usually insufficient to create reliable data for DFM checks and for the sourcing of components.

Therefore, a separate file is required for the BOM information.

Native CAD-formats (Preferred)

Until the KiCAD V6 is officially released we can only accept V5.x.x as a native CAD file data input format.

We prefer the native CAD-formats as we can read these directly into our CAM-system without the need to output the data from the CAD-system  into an intermediate format such as Gerber, meaning no interpolation issues with data output.

Unfortunately, most CAD-vendors do not share their internal formats with the manufacturing community.

This means that most designers are forced to use the CAD output processor and generate an intermediate format to transfer their design from CAD to CAM.

Both Eagle and KiCAD work with different files for PCB layout and Schematics.

Gerber

Eurocircuits prefers the Gerber format as an intermediate transfer format as it is an open format and is human readable and downwards compatible.

Of the possible Gerber versions Gerber X3 is the top performing format to transfer PCB and Assembly data which offers benefits for checking the manufacturability of the PCB and the population with components.

For customers that do not wish to transfer their assembly information Gerber X2 plus format is the best choice as it contains only the PCB data and the job file.

ODB ++

Customers that are willing to transfer their entire design to the manufacturer can also use ODB++. It is not a human readable format like Gerber, but contains all info needed to produce the PCB and assemble the board.

IMPORTANT

Please be careful not to use the format as a container in which one keeps all previous versions of the design and stores the single PCB as well as a possible customer panel etc..

This way of working will make the data very ambiguous and unusable for the manufacturer as one can no longer decide which data to use. Automatic systems will fail to read in the data this way.

Alternatively Provide a Data Set Containing:

Artwork

  • None at present.

Artwork means all copper layers, soldermask and legend layers, board outline or mechanical layer, SMD paste layers, carbon layers, peel-off layers, etc.

Drilling

IMPORTANT

If Gerber is provided, please also provide a Gerber Job file (information on Gerber Job and a download link for the Gerber Job Editor can be found here).

XNC is a new and updated numeric drill format and is an improved version of Excellon with  better documentation, for more information please click here.

A free to use online Gerber viewer is available from Ucamco – here.

What Data Should You Provide

If you provide Naked CAD format files from EAGLE or KiCAD these should contain all the information necessary for production.

For other accepted file formats, please provide ONLY the data files that are required to produce your PCB as below:

  • Copper Layers
  • Soldermask Layers
  • Legend Layers
  • Board Outline Layers
  • Mechanical Layers
  • Solder Paste Layers
  • Carbon Layers
  • Peel-off Layers
  • Via Filling Layers
  • Drill Data
  • Heatsink Paste Layers

Only provide the data necessary to produce your board.

Please ensure that any instruction or specification is evidently clear in the actual layout data.

Should it prove to be inevitable to add additional explanatory files then make sure that these files are in ASCII format or in a commonly used format (like PDF).

If possible, check your generated output data either by using our PCB Visualizer or with UCAMCO’s free Gerber Viewer (the owner of the Gerber format) before you confirm your order.

IMPORTANT

If you require your boards to be delivered in a customer panel (“array”, “matrix” or “biscuit”) then please use our dedicated eC-panel editor to create your customer panel.

This has the benefit that all DFM rules for making panels are taken into account in the editor thus avoiding mistakes. Check out our Panel Guidelines and eC-panel Editor User Guide.

If you want us to prepare your customer panel from the single board data to your individual specifications then provide the panel plan in Gerber X2 (or Gerber X) and call this layer, “panel plan”.

How Should You Provide your Data

Once your data is generated, put them all together in one compressed file (Winzip, 7zip, rar, …) and make sure:

  • To have only one version of your design in the compressed file, without using any folder or folder structure, so our systems and operators can read the data without any chance of ambiguous doubts.
  • To give your compressed file a meaningful name that relates to your project or order
Data File Names

Use clear and easy to understand file naming and try to avoid long filenames.

Make sure that we can easily determine the layer function from the filename.

Examples Good File Naming Convention

Examples of  Bad File Naming Conventions

Long files names are not advisable.

The file names contain no information about the layer function.


Page Update History

11/01/2021 – General update of Input data formats we accept and ODB++ added.

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