The Trouble with Gerber files used in PCB manufacture #PCB #Design #Manufacturing
G-code is a generic term for the text based command language used by CNC devices. Most dialects originate from a standard published by the Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA) in the early 1960s referred to as “RS-274”. I say “dialects” because (like most languages used in computing) it’s been extended, mutated, and generally abused in the name of getting things done.
“Gerbers” are the specification used by most devices which manufacture PCBs. As mentioned earlier, Gerbers themselves use a specific dialect of G-code called “RS-274-X”. The process of manufacturing a PCB involves a number of steps including taking layers of fiberglass with copper traces milled in place, stacking them, covering the outer layers in an epoxy type substance called “solder mask”, and screen printing text onto the resulting board.
Each of the individual layers ends up getting it’s own file with it’s own definitions… and there’s the rub.
brianredbeard.com looks at the issues involved and the different naming conventions for files in different software design packages.
And see Ladyada’s suggestions for Gerber file viewers here.
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I worked for several decades in the PCB prototyping industry (APCircuits), and I had to apply machine learning to this exact issue because not only did all software use different names, but many people liked to use their own names as well.
It was on HECK of a pain, and machine learning would occasionally come up with some weird ideas compared to the operators, it did not engender trust in the technology.