Design Data: File Naming Conventions


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Have you ever Googled your name? Using the internet, I found out there are not many folks named Kelly Dack in the world, though I was surprised to find out there are a few scattered here and there. Now, imagine my shock if I were to be denied a loan, referred to as “Ms. Dack,” or passed up for a job opportunity because an auditor used the incorrect profile data from one of the other Kelly Dacks out there during my data verification process.

I have found that when searching for myself on the internet (come on, you do it too), I achieve better results by being more specific in my search criteria. For instance, simply adding “PCB” after my name helps to narrow the search criteria by being descriptive enough to show Kelly Dack the PCB designer and almost anything I am connected to within the PCB industry.

I recently read that up to 90% of the manufacturing data for the electronic design industry’s PCBs is still supplied in the non-intelligent Gerber data format. Regardless of the percentage, I know that the EMS provider I work for sees a lot of Gerber data from our customers. And we procure a lot of quality PCBs from our suppliers using Gerber data (unless we can’t). Sometimes information on an entire layer or other manufacturing files is missing. Again, Gerber data is not intelligent. It is graphic information only, and if measures aren’t taken by the designer to give us clues regarding how the artwork is configured, we must stop, ask questions, and seek clarification, which takes valuable time.

Working for an EMS provider, I am often asked to make sense of customers’ PCB design data packages that must be audited for completeness and manufacturability. Quite often, EMS operations receive data to produce a PCB design and begin the auditing process, only to be called off due to customer changes. Sometimes the data is incomplete, or it is missing one or more of the data files required to fabricate the PCB at the supplier. There are also occasions where a customer has sent files that were supposed to be the updated version but were not changed at all.

All suppliers of PCBs, including assembly services suppliers, make great efforts to verify that the data they are using to build the product for a customer is the latest up-to-date version. Every manufacturing process is tied to an internal product control number and revision. In production environments, the material does not move forward unless it has been checked, verified, and inspected to the revision control process in place. But what happens when the customer design data is not identified?

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

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