We’ve all used Gerber, NC drill, and Excel files for years (decades really) to output our fabrication and assembly data for our PCB’s. These files have worked well, but they can be time consuming to generate, and even more so for the folks at the manufacturers that need to take that data, and prepare it for input to their machines.
The strange thing is, when you send your data files to the manufacturer, they typically will first input them in a design for manufacturing analysis tool, most likely Valor since they have overwhelming market share in the fab houses, then fabricate and assembly the board. All the analysis tools and assembly machines on the market today accept another file format that is output by PADS and other CAD tools – ODB++. This one file contains all the information that is needed to fabricate and assemble the design. There are many testimonials of how much time switching to ODB++ vs. traditional CAM outputs can save.
I visit and talk to many customers, and recently have been asking the questions of whether they have made the move away from Gerber, and to ODB++, and what their experience has been.
Have you made the move? Let me know, I’d like to hear from you!