Once a prototype meets requirements and satisfies standards, it can be released for mass production.
The PCB layout greatly influences the reliability, performance, and pricing of the final product.
Open Data Base (ODB)++ is an alternative file format used in the PCB manufacturing sector. Gerber files are another option.
The industry standard is to use Gerber files to print PCBs (shown above)
Are you a newly-minted engineer trying to figure out how to convert a PCB layout? We’ve got you covered. We’ll give an overview of PCB layout design, cover how to convert a PCB layout to Gerber files, and discuss other file formats available for conversion.
From Prototype to Production
Product development is not an easy task. Once the concept of an electronic product is conceived, designers move toward prototyping. All electronic product development follows the prototyping-to-production process flow. Prototyping is not essential; however, it is best practice and can save you money and time.
Prototyping is a tedious and iterative process. Prototyping continues until the intended output or function is achieved from the circuit being designed. When the prototype meets requirements and satisfies standards such as emissions, harmonics, safety, etc., it can be released for mass production.
The Importance of a PCB Layout
For mass production, it is necessary to lay out components properly while considering all industry standards.
The PCB layout greatly influences the reliability, performance, and pricing of the final product that is to be mass-produced. For example, if you have a new product with a potential rival in the market, then your product’s time-to-market impact is crucial. If the PCB layout is optimized and suitable for automated assembly, it decreases the lead time to market, increases the production rate, and reduces the per-unit cost.
How Do I Convert a PCB Layout?
Imagine you already have a highly optimized, well-designed layout that is ready for printing. How do you convey the PCB design details to the PCB fabrication team? If the printing of PCBs is being outsourced, how do you convey the PCB layout details to the manufacturer?
You need the support of PCB design software. If the layout is ready, it is possible to import the existing layout to almost all available PCB design software. Once the layout is imported and checked, the layout file can be exported to the formats required. The exported file should be analyzed to ensure it is error-free and complete. Then it is time to generate the file and send it to the manufacturers.
Generally, the industry standard is to use Gerber files to print the PCB. Gerber files describe the layers, solder mask, silkscreen layers, etc. in the PCB. From Gerber files, the physical board realization is easy, as most fabrication processes are compatible with the Gerber file format.
Other advantages of using Gerber files are listed below:
ODB++ → An Alternative to Gerber Files
Open Data Base (ODB)++ is an alternative file format used in the PCB manufacturing sector. Gerber files fail to completely convey the layer-by-layer details. The ODB++ files describe entire features and enable local as well as global dimensional and location adjustments. Compared to Gerber files, ODB++ file formats are easier to edit to make modifications in sizes, shapes, and locations.
Asking “How do I convert a PCB layout?” is a fair question for budding designers. It is necessary to have a clear understanding of the layout design and know how to export to ODB++ or Gerber files to ensure a smooth production process. Cadence’s suite of tools can assist you from prototyping to mass production, with tools that support optimized, high-quality layout design.
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