After the layouts have been simulated on your PCB designing software sufficiently enough to finalize the design, it is time to send the Gerber files to your manufacturing unit, but are you sure that the output files good enough? Can the ASCII vector flees use a few improvements? Is the formatting up-to-date and in line with what the manufacturing unit requires?
After you go through these pointers, you may just be able to improve the quality of all your future production designs by simply improving the quality of the manufacturing output files.
Use Altium’s Own Gerber PCB Software
Altium users will know that the PCB design tool comes equipped with a gerber PCB software for the artwork, which is up to date with the latest industry standards of manufacturing.
Although the basic standards of Gerber have remained the same for decades, it has evolved a lot over time. Altium can not only generate the Gerber files in multiple formats, but all the other manufacturing output files, such as Excellon drill files, can also be generated by the software on demand.
The Importance of Homogeneity in the Unit System Used
All details within the files should be using the same metric or imperial units to maintain homogeneity. If you make a mistake here, the entire production efforts might go to waste, since successful PCB manufacturing is supposed to be an exact science.
The Board Outline Should be There in All the Layers
Is it necessary to include the board’s basic outline in every layer of the Gerber? No, it isn’t. However, by doing so, the designer automatically reduces the chances of registration and alignment issues during the manufacturing process.
Do You Really Need Scaling?
Scaling is rarely a good idea, but sometimes, it just can’t be avoided. For example, high-speed op amps with inverting input will at times oscillate due to an unexpected increase in the capacitance. Usually, the fix is to reduce the width of traces and adjust the components on the high-gain circuits until they are as close to each other as possible. Unfortunately, this may not always be able to reduce the capacitance sufficiently enough to stop the oscillation.
To change the circuit’s resonance, the input and feedback resistors will need to be scaled lower, alongside the filter components where applicable. This may solve the manufacturing unit’s problem, but it will certainly increase the PCB’s overall power consumption.
Avoid such scenarios during the design phase whenever possible to minimize complications as well as the chances of production failures.
The final piece of advice would be to keep in mind that autogenerated Gerber files are almost always accurate, but “almost” is not good enough in business. After the manufacturing schematic files have been generated by your PCB software, go through it once or twice manually to make sure that the data you are sending into manufacturing is not invalid, changed or corrupted from conversion. Depending on the kind of project we are talking about, it could cost you a lot of money if you don’t!