Table of Contents
Last updated on: June 7, 2023, 10:50 a.m.
Uploading Gerbers to FixturFab
When it comes to designing a test fixture for your Printed Circuit Board (PCB), one of the most crucial steps is uploading your Gerber files. FixturFab, a leading platform in PCB test fixture design, utilizes these Gerber files to streamline and automate the design process. This not only helps in detecting design for test issues but also identifies fixture design requirements. In this article, we will walk you through the process of uploading Gerber files for creating a circuit board test fixture design.
What are Gerber Files?
Before we delve into the process, let's first understand what Gerber files are. Gerber files are a standard file format used in the electronics industry to communicate design information to manufacturing departments. These files contain essential details about your PCB design, including copper tracking layers, drill drawing, apertures, component notations, and more.
Why are Gerber Files Important for Test Fixture Design?
Gerber files play a pivotal role in test fixture design. They provide a wealth of information about the PCB, which can be used to detect potential design for test issues early in the process. This allows for necessary adjustments to be made before the fixture design is finalized, saving time and resources.
Moreover, Gerber files can be used to automate some aspects of the fixture design process. By feeding these files into advanced software like FixturFab, you can generate a test fixture design that perfectly matches your PCB.
In addition to Gerber files, IPC-2581 and ODB++ files are also incredibly useful in the test fixture design process. These file formats are more modern and contain comprehensive data about the PCB design, including layer stack information, netlist data, and component information. This additional data can further enhance the accuracy of the test fixture design and streamline the manufacturing process.
However, not all Electronic Design Automation (EDA) tools support these more modern formats. As a result, Gerber files remain the most universally accepted file format for PCB manufacturing and testing. Therefore, if IPC-2581 or ODB++ files are available, it is highly recommended to upload them in addition to the Gerber files to maximize the efficiency and accuracy of your test fixture design.
How to Upload Gerber Files to FixturFab
Now that we understand the importance of Gerber files, let's go through the steps to upload these files to FixturFab.
Files that FixturFab Uses
While you are free to upload all Gerber layers for your design, FixturFab primarily requires the following layers:
- Soldermask, solderpaste, silkscreen, and copper layers for the top and bottom of the PCB
- A layer containing the mechanical border of the PCB
- A drill file for the PCB
These files provide the necessary information for FixturFab to create an accurate and efficient test fixture design.
We should be able to identify files output by the following programs:
The common file extensions for our required Gerber layers are:
- Top Layers
- Bottom Layers
- Mechanical Outline
Prepare Your Gerber Files
The first step is to generate your Gerber files from your PCB design software. Once you have these files, create a zip file containing the required layers mentioned above.
Upload Your Gerber Files
Navigate to the FixturFab website and log into your account. If you don't have an account yet, you can create one for free. Once logged in, go to the 'Request for Quote' form and find the 'DUT Details' tab. Within the 'Manufacturing' section, you'll find an option to upload your Gerber files. Click on 'Upload', then select and upload the zip file from your computer.
Review and Confirm
After uploading, FixturFab will automatically analyze your files. Check that FixturFab correctly identified the files and make any changes that are necessary. If there are any issues, the platform will notify you, and you can make the necessary adjustments.
Proceed with the Quoting Process
Once confirmed, you can proceed with the rest of the quoting process. FixturFab will use the information from your Gerber files to help design your test fixture and provide an accurate quote.
Uploading Gerber files for creating a circuit board test fixture design is a straightforward process, but it's a crucial step that can significantly impact the efficiency and accuracy of your fixture design. By leveraging platforms like FixturFab, you can automate this process, saving time and ensuring a perfect match between your PCB and test fixture.
Remember, the key to a successful test fixture design lies in the details of your Gerber files. So, always double-check your files before uploading them. Happy designing!