Author Topic: Gerber to ODB++ converter software  (Read 2084 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline deandob

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 5
Gerber to ODB++ converter software
« on: September 06, 2020, 06:18:33 am »
All,

Anyone have experience with converting Gerber files to ODB++?

Our company is switching from PCB assembly in China to local (Australia) for prototype and small production runs but the new place insists on ODB++ formats to save setup costs, especially when several spins for a prototype is needed. However we are a small design house and invested in Kicad with years of designs as well as Engineering skills in Kicad (which we are mostly happy with). Unfortunately ODB++ isn't on the Kicad roadmap short term, and we are reluctant to make the switch to something like Altium (due to legacy designs, skills and not to mention the high product cost!), so was looking to see how others have dealt with this problem?

I assumed it would be easy to find some software that could convert between formats but seems not (FAB3000 being the exception but it seems overkill). Another alternative is to import Gerber into some intermediate format, then import into a tool that can export into ODB++ but I worry about potential issues due to cross conversion.
 

Online voltsandjolts

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 1366
  • Country: gb
Re: Gerber to ODB++ converter software
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2020, 10:17:12 am »
OBD++ contains more information than the Gerbers, so there is no way to convert Gerber to OBD++ without adding the additional information.

It's strange that your supplier demands ODB++ when it has so little traction in the PCB market.
Ucamco Gerber X3 is going to be the way forward.

Talk to your supplier, I am sure they will accept Gerber + additional information. If not, they are a bit crazy, so move on.
 

Offline SiliconWizard

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 7748
  • Country: fr
Re: Gerber to ODB++ converter software
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2020, 01:09:26 am »
I've had a few assembly companies ask for ODB++ files, so I'm not surprised. It's supported by many tools these days. (I don't know about the future yet...)

The benefit is that it certainly saves a lot of time for them, but not just that. Also a lot of potential human errors, compared to providing them with additional information in a non-standard form. Of course if you absolutely can't generate ODB++ files, then they should accept that. I've found that many these days ask for ODB++ by default (for the above reasons), but will of course deal with information in other forms if required. Just tell them your EDA doesn't generate ODB++. End of the story, as not all EDA packages do. EDA I've used that do support ODB++ export: Altium Designer, Zuken Cadstar. KiCad doesn't support that AFAIK (at least as of now.)

There is no way to "convert" Gerber to ODB++ as standard Gerber doesn't contain the equivalent information, not even with Gerber X2. I don't know anything much yet about X3, but if anything, we're talking about a few years ahead, not right now. For instance, ODB++ include pick-and-place data that can be automatically imported for pick-and-place machines.

As said above, assembly companies should accept projects with no ODB++.  I even bet that's still the majority of projects most of them deal with. Again they just ask for that routinely because it helps them significantly, but they shouldn't reject your project if you don't have that. If they ever do (or charge you significant extra), then go look elsewhere. What you could do, though, is ask them what's their prefered format for pick-and-place (component location) files, and try and generate that to make things easier. Usually some kind of CSV format is fine as it's easy to import/process in many software tools. They may have a prefered column order for the data - you can ask. In any case, they'll have a technician or engineer to prepare files for the machines, so that should not be a showstopper.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2020, 01:16:16 am by SiliconWizard »
 

Offline pointhi

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 43
  • Country: at
Re: Gerber to ODB++ converter software
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2020, 06:37:23 am »
It has to be noted, that there is a plan to integrate the successor of ODB++ into KiCad (IPC-2581). Dunno how many manufacturer support this standard as well already. To my knowledge, IPC-2581 is better in the sense of having less cross-compability issues than ODB++ due to better specification.

ODB++ support: https://gitlab.com/kicad/code/kicad/-/issues/2019
IPC-2581 support: https://gitlab.com/kicad/code/kicad/-/issues/1954

To my knowledge, there is no one at the moment coding an importer/exporer for those formats. If there is enough interest in adding it sooner than later, someone needs to step up and either code it itself or pay someone to do it (like KiPro). I'm sure there is interest from multiple companies to add support, so the costs can be divided up. In terms of development time, I would guess something between 1/2 - 3 Months (expert KiCad developer vs intern).
 

Offline tycz

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 91
Re: Gerber to ODB++ converter software
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2020, 09:11:36 am »
deandob,

I've seen PCB Investigator advertised online. I've never used it myself, but it looks like it should be able to import your Gerber, drill, component positions, net list, BOM files and spit out an ODB++ file. No price listed on the website, so probably isn't cheap.

The benefit is that it certainly saves a lot of time for them, but not just that. Also a lot of potential human errors, compared to providing them with additional information in a non-standard form. Of course if you absolutely can't generate ODB++ files, then they should accept that. I've found that many these days ask for ODB++ by default (for the above reasons), but will of course deal with information in other forms if required. Just tell them your EDA doesn't generate ODB++. End of the story, as not all EDA packages do. EDA I've used that do support ODB++ export: Altium Designer, Zuken Cadstar. KiCad doesn't support that AFAIK (at least as of now.)

When I was last involved with the local electronics industry here in Australia, about 7 years ago, it was still popular to use the Altium PCB files as the interchange format for both PCB manufacture and assembly. It seemed to me that 95% of the country was using Altuim Designer (the other 5% were still on Protel). Given that Altium can generate both it's not surprising that the superior ODB++ format is what a local assembler wants.
 

Offline Jeroen3

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3699
  • Country: nl
  • Embedded Engineer
    • jeroen3.nl
Re: Gerber to ODB++ converter software
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2020, 09:20:05 am »
the new place insists on ODB++ formats to save setup costs
Pay the extra processing fee or upgrade your board design suite.
Perhaps you can ask if they can work with the kicad board file and gerbers instead of ODB++?
Anyway, you'll be paying the fee or looking for a different producer.
 

Offline deandob

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 5
Re: Gerber to ODB++ converter software
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2020, 09:22:55 pm »
Seems I'm somewhat alone in the Australian market not using Altium. However being a hardware startup I can't get over the high cost of Altium (especially as Kicad works well for us) as well as the switching costs for our team so we will have to wear a bit more in setup costs (only really a problem for prototyping with micro-BGAs that we don't have the confidence to solder in-house).

Good idea to ask the assembly company if they have another format like CSV.
 


Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf