Still Using 1980s Formats for Design Data Handoff?


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The IPC-2581 format was created in the early 2000s with the merger of two competing formats: ODB++ and GENCAM. The new format, the brainchild of the late Dieter Bergman, languished with no adoption until 2011, when a small group of companies created the IPC-2581 Consortium with the goal of getting this open, neutral and intelligent format adopted.

Today, the consortium consists of more than 90 corporate member companies with a single goal: migrate PCB design handoff from an assortment of unintelligent photoplot data to a single, intelligent file. Members from all electronics industry segments—design, manufacturing and supply chain—have collaborated to create an open format that also supports stack-up data exchange between design houses and their fabrication partners.

Fabricators and assembly houses have reported that using a single file results in a 30% time savings compared to using multiple Gerber files and many other similar file formats. PCB designers and their partners are breathing a sigh of relief knowing that IPC-2581 eliminates the risks of mismatched data on both sides of the design process.

The consortium has been growing steadily in recent years. Its membership now includes more than 100 associate members in addition to its more than 90 corporate members, who represent a variety of PCB design and supply chain companies:

  • PCB ECAD companies, including Altium, Cadence, Mentor, Zuken, ADIVA, DownStream Technologies, and WISE Software
  • EMS companies, contract manufacturers, and fabrication companies
  • Companies that provide software to EMS, fabrication and contract manufacturers, including AEGIS, Cimnet, Direct Logix, Easy Logix, GraphiCode, and Polar Instruments
  • And, of course, IPC

To read this entire article, which appeared in the February 2018 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.

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