The electronic files used for PCB production include: Gerber, NC Drill, IPC netlist, ODB++ and IPC2581 files. IPC2581 is a new format that contains all the information for PCB production.
What is IPC-2581?
IPC-2581 is an industry standard file format developed by the IPC organization that provides a single data exchange format for the printed circuit board (PCB) industry. It enables design data to be exchanged between different CAD systems and other software applications, enabling a seamless integration of data exchange across the entire product development process.
Benefits of IPC-2581
- Reduced complexity and cost of data management
- Improved productivity and re-use of existing data
- Improved accuracy and consistency of data
- Increased interoperability and data sharing
- Increased reliability and performance of data transfer
IPC-2581 Published Time
In the past 30 years, PCBs have undergone significant changes, but we still commonly use the communication formats from 30 years ago to convey design intent to the manufacturing industry. These decades-old data communication formats were originally envisioned to drive emerging numerical control machine tools. While the Gerber format, when implemented correctly, can be used to transmit image data, it cannot transmit stacked data, materials, design intent, or netlists. The IPC group has recognized the challenges and dynamics in the PCB design and manufacturing field and has been enthusiastic about advocating for replacing these old data communication formats.
This project is an industry-wide effort aimed at defining the ultimate data exchange integration standard. Its purpose is to enable accurate and efficient data exchange between designers and manufacturers of printed circuit boards (PCBs) and assemblies using a single XML-based data exchange format. Through this effort, the IPC committee developed a new standard, IPC-2581, which specifies universal requirements for the manufacturing description data and transmission methods of printed circuit board assembly products. It was released in March 2004. With IPC-2581, the industry finally has a global opportunity to save millions of costs wasted due to managing multiple files in different formats by implementing standardized and secure design data transmission. However, just like data format specifications, it will be meaningless if the processes do not use it. This is where a new alliance consisting of PCB design software (EDA) and supply chain companies comes into play: to bring companies together to achieve, promote, and push for the use of IPC-2581.
Export IPC-2581 in Allegro PCB Designer
Exporting an IPC-2581 in Allegro PCB Designer is a simple process. It involves setting up the export parameters, configuring the output format and settings, and then exporting the design.
1. Set up the export parameters: In the Output Setup dialog box, select the IPC-2581 checkbox and set the format revision to the desired level (e.g. A, B, C, D, etc.). Additionally, you can also specify the “Output netlist” option, as well as other formatting options.
2. Configure the output format and settings: In the Export Options dialog box, select the IPC-2581 format from the list of available formats. Make sure to define the tabs and fields for specific data as required.
3. Export the design: Once the setup is complete, click the “Export” button to save the design as an IPC-2581 file. You can use this file to transfer your PCB design to external systems such as CAM, EDA, or other design tools.