Gerber is a standard format used in the electronics industry to communicate design information to PCB manufacturers. It is designed to be understood by many machines and software so that we can produce the same printed circuit board with different machines. The content of a Gerber file is ASCII text that defines pads, tracks, text, and drills.
If you’re interested in building printed circuit boards for fun or as a professional designer, you will need to view or edit them some way or another. So having a gerber viewer on your computer is usually very helpful. In fact, it is essential to check your files before sending them to your manufacturer for the last inspection.
They are also very useful in editing your PCB art out of your PCB package. Sometimes you will need to panelize your PCB or when making prototypes at home you need to mirror the top layer before printing. Many gerber viewers have such features.
RS-274D vs RS-274X
If you ever produce gerber files of your design you must have seen these output format. RS-274X is the newer format and RS-274D is the older. Go with the newer format unless your manufacturer requires the other.
So here are a list of gerber viewers:
- Gerbv: Free open viewer for Gerber RS-274X files, Excellon drill files, and CSV pick-and-place files that run on Linux.
- GC-Prevue: Free version only supports viewing.
- ViewMate: A powerful gerber viewer with many options.
- GerberLogix 3.0: A free gerber viewer with many features like measuring, editing, exporting an image.
The content of a Gerber file is ASCII text. Here is an example of a gerber file.
G04 Plot Data ***