PCB design files question

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I'm confused (yes, I know...). In particular, I'm confused about how to include board outline info in the file package. I want to send out a PCB design to a couple of outfits for prototypes, but neither of the outfits is at all clear about how to include the outline info, even after emails.

Disregarding the question of whether I should even deal with companies that can't clarify their needs, I want to find out the common way(s) that you include board outline info. In particular, how do you include that info if the company doesn't want a separate board outline file? Thanks for any feedback.

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With the Pulsonix software I use, the board outline is present on all Gerber files. I never have any problems.

If there is a problem with your board outline, the PCB supplier will tell you about it, as they will be unable to make the board.

Leon Heller G1HSM

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leon_heller wrote:
With the Pulsonix software I use, the board outline is present on all Gerber files. I never have any problems.

Oops, I think I wasn't clear. I know how to cause the software to include the board outline info in any of the files. I'm just not sure which files I should include it in.

BTW, may I assume that the board outline info in a gerber file will not be interpreted as a copper trace or silkscreen rectangle? That is, that the board outline info has a different ID or marker in the file?

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Normally the outline file is included with the milling file, or on its own. You can usually just specify which drawing you put it in in an accompanying .txt file, and the manufacturer should have no problem.

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I think that the CAM software that the board supplier uses just looks for the largest shape on all the files. They also check the files visually, to make sure that everything looks sensible.

None of the low-cost "pool" prototyping companies I deal with require text files describing board details.

Leon Heller G1HSM

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I always make mine on mechanical layer 1 and put text on saying 'rout profile' and just zip it up with the rest of the layers.
In Protel, I specify which layers are to be converted to gerber, then hit 'print'. This produces all the required gerber files. To that zip file, I add all the drilling info.
Unless you have something that is exceptionally complex, or you need outline routing tolerances down to 1 thou, then you don't need any supporting text files.
If I get the odd tight tolerance, I put absolute dimensions and tolerances on the mechanical layer.

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I always include a separate layer for the board outline (and I include any other internal routing on that layer).

Never gotten a complaint from a fab about this. Your fab should be able to tell you what they want you to do.

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I usually put my board outlines on the board mechanical layer just for convention. However, You can put it on any layer - once in a while I will throw it onto a top signal layer. Board houses have never complained.

Chief Tinkerer

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The outline requirements vary by board house.

BatchPCB, for example, wants the outline on a layer all by itself, with extension .oln.

Seeed, as I recall, wants it on either the top or bottom copper.

So, somewhere, you need to look through their FAQ and tease out the requirement.

Jim

 

Until Black Lives Matter, we do not have "All Lives Matter"!

 

 

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OK guys, thanks, I think I understand the issue now.

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Batch PCB uses Gold Phoenix and the latter just wants the Gerbers, at least one of which will presumably include the outline. Batch PCB obviously does their own processing to make up panels.

Leon Heller G1HSM

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leon_heller wrote:
Batch PCB uses Gold Phoenix and the latter just wants the Gerbers, at least one of which will presumably include the outline.

When you say "just wants the Gerbers," wouldn't a "mechanical layer" be a Gerber too? Or do you mean that the board outline would be on one of the electrical layers or perhaps the silkscreen?

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kk6gm wrote:
leon_heller wrote:
Batch PCB uses Gold Phoenix and the latter just wants the Gerbers, at least one of which will presumably include the outline.

When you say "just wants the Gerbers," wouldn't a "mechanical layer" be a Gerber too? Or do you mean that the board outline would be on one of the electrical layers or perhaps the silkscreen?

I think he means that the outline can be included on any of the electrical layers. If they don't specify I usually put it on the top signal layer out of habit.

Chief Tinkerer

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triden wrote:
kk6gm wrote:
leon_heller wrote:
Batch PCB uses Gold Phoenix and the latter just wants the Gerbers, at least one of which will presumably include the outline.

When you say "just wants the Gerbers," wouldn't a "mechanical layer" be a Gerber too? Or do you mean that the board outline would be on one of the electrical layers or perhaps the silkscreen?

I think he means that the outline can be included on any of the electrical layers. If they don't specify I usually put it on the top signal layer out of habit.


Yes, this is the impression I've gotten from various things I've read. I guess the board houses have no problem distinguishing the board outline from actual copper.

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Gerbers are supplied for all layers, including silk screen. It shouldn't matter which layer(s) the outline is on.

Leon Heller G1HSM

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However, it will be fool-proof to draw the outlines on a separate layer, especially if you have cut-outs in the board. If just the board outline, then in one layer will do.