Cadsoft Eagle brd to Gerber conversion guidelines

Posted by

Introduction to Eagle-to-Gerber Conversion

CadSoft EAGLE is a popular electronic design automation (EDA) software used by engineers and hobbyists to design printed circuit boards (PCBs). One of the essential steps in the PCB fabrication process is converting the Eagle board (.brd) file to Gerber format. Gerber files are industry-standard files used by PCB manufacturers to create the physical boards.

In this article, we will provide comprehensive guidelines on converting Eagle .brd files to Gerber format, ensuring that your PCB designs are ready for manufacturing.

Understanding Gerber Format

What is Gerber Format?

Gerber format, also known as RS-274X, is a standard file format used to describe the printed circuit board images for manufacturing. It consists of a set of vector-based images representing different layers of the PCB, such as copper traces, solder mask, silkscreen, and drill holes.

Importance of Gerber Files in PCB Manufacturing

Gerber files play a crucial role in PCB manufacturing as they contain all the necessary information required by the fabrication house to produce the physical board. The accuracy and completeness of Gerber files directly impact the quality and functionality of the manufactured PCB.

Preparing Your Eagle Design for Gerber Export

Before converting your Eagle .brd file to Gerber format, it’s essential to ensure that your design is complete and error-free. Follow these steps to prepare your design:

  1. Design Rule Check (DRC): Run a Design Rule Check in Eagle to identify any design rule violations. Resolve all the errors and warnings before proceeding.

  2. Board Outline: Ensure that your board outline is properly defined using the ‘Dimension’ layer in Eagle. This outline will be used to create the board shape in the Gerber files.

  3. Copper Layers: Verify that all the copper layers (e.g., Top, Bottom, Inner layers) are correctly assigned and contain the necessary traces and pads.

  4. Solder Mask and Silkscreen: Check that the solder mask and silkscreen layers are properly defined. The solder mask layer should cover the appropriate areas, and the silkscreen layer should include component outlines and labels.

  5. Drill Holes: Confirm that all the required drill holes, including mounting holes and vias, are present in the design.

Generating Gerber Files in Eagle

Once your design is prepared, follow these steps to generate Gerber files in Eagle:

  1. Open your Eagle .brd file.

  2. Go to File > CAM Processor.

  3. In the CAM Processor window, select the “” job file from the “Device” dropdown menu. This job file contains the necessary settings for Gerber file generation.

  4. Click on the “Process Job” button to start the Gerber file generation process.

  5. Choose a destination folder to save the generated Gerber files.

  6. After the process is complete, you will find a set of Gerber files in the specified folder, typically with extensions such as .GBL (Bottom Layer), .GBO (Bottom Overlay), .GBS (Bottom Solder Mask), .GML (Board Outline), .GTL (Top Layer), .GTO (Top Overlay), .GTS (Top Solder Mask), and .TXT (Drill File).

Verifying Gerber Files

Before sending your Gerber files to the PCB manufacturer, it’s crucial to verify their accuracy and completeness. Here are some methods to verify your Gerber files:

  1. Visual Inspection: Use a Gerber viewer software to open and visually inspect each Gerber file layer by layer. Ensure that the copper traces, pads, solder mask, silkscreen, and drill holes appear as expected.

  2. Gerber File Analyzer: Some PCB Manufacturers provide online Gerber file analyzers that check for common errors and issues in your Gerber files. Upload your files to these analyzers and review the feedback provided.

  3. Gerber File Comparison: If you have access to a PCB design software other than Eagle, you can import your Gerber files into that software and compare them with your original Eagle design. This comparison helps identify any discrepancies or missing features.

Common Gerber File Issues and Solutions

During the Eagle-to-Gerber conversion process, you may encounter some common issues. Here are a few examples and their solutions:

Issue Solution
Missing or incorrect board outline Ensure that the board outline is properly defined in the ‘Dimension’ layer in Eagle.
Incomplete or missing copper layers Verify that all the necessary copper layers are assigned and contain the required traces and pads.
Solder mask or silkscreen errors Check the solder mask and silkscreen layers for proper coverage and labeling.
Drill file discrepancies Confirm that all the required drill holes are present and correctly defined in the design.
Incorrect file extensions or naming conventions Follow the standard Gerber file naming conventions and extensions for each layer.

Best Practices for Eagle-to-Gerber Conversion

To ensure a smooth and error-free Eagle-to-Gerber conversion process, consider the following best practices:

  1. Use a consistent naming convention: Adopt a consistent naming convention for your Gerber files to avoid confusion and errors.

  2. Include a readme file: Provide a readme file along with your Gerber files that includes important information such as the PCB Thickness, copper weight, and any special instructions for the manufacturer.

  3. Communicate with the PCB manufacturer: Engage in clear communication with your PCB manufacturer regarding their specific requirements and guidelines for Gerber files.

  4. Keep a backup of your Eagle design files: Always keep a backup of your original Eagle design files in case you need to make modifications or regenerate the Gerber files.

  5. Continuously improve your design skills: Stay updated with the latest PCB design techniques, guidelines, and industry standards to create high-quality and manufacturable designs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. What is the difference between Eagle .brd files and Gerber files?
  2. Eagle .brd files are the native board design files created in Cadsoft Eagle software, containing the PCB layout and design information. Gerber files, on the other hand, are industry-standard files used to describe the PCB images for manufacturing. Gerber files are generated from Eagle .brd files and are used by PCB manufacturers to fabricate the physical boards.

  3. Can I use other CAM job files instead of “” for Gerber file generation in Eagle?

  4. Yes, you can use other CAM job files or create your own custom job file based on your specific requirements. However, the “” job file is a standard and widely used job file that contains the necessary settings for generating Gerber files compatible with most PCB manufacturers.

  5. What should I do if my PCB manufacturer reports issues with my Gerber files?

  6. If your PCB manufacturer reports issues with your Gerber files, first try to understand the specific problem they are facing. Request clarification and ask for their recommendations. Review your Gerber files using a Gerber viewer and compare them with your original Eagle design. Make the necessary corrections in your Eagle design and regenerate the Gerber files. Communicate with the manufacturer to ensure that the revised files meet their requirements.

  7. How can I ensure the accuracy of my Gerber files?

  8. To ensure the accuracy of your Gerber files, follow the best practices mentioned earlier, such as running a Design Rule Check (DRC) in Eagle, visually inspecting the Gerber files using a viewer, and verifying them using Gerber file analyzers or comparison tools. Double-check that all the necessary layers, copper traces, pads, and drill holes are correctly represented in the Gerber files.

  9. What if I need to make changes to my design after generating Gerber files?

  10. If you need to make changes to your design after generating Gerber files, it’s important to go back to your original Eagle .brd file and make the modifications there. Once you have updated your Eagle design, regenerate the Gerber files using the CAM Processor. This ensures that your Gerber files accurately reflect the latest changes made to your design.


Converting Eagle .brd files to Gerber format is a critical step in the PCB Fabrication process. By following the guidelines and best practices outlined in this article, you can ensure that your Gerber files are accurate, complete, and ready for manufacturing. Remember to prepare your Eagle design carefully, generate Gerber files using the appropriate job file, verify the files using various methods, and communicate effectively with your PCB manufacturer.

By mastering the Eagle-to-Gerber conversion process, you can streamline your PCB design workflow, reduce manufacturing issues, and achieve high-quality PCBs that meet your design requirements. Continuously expand your knowledge and stay updated with industry standards to create robust and manufacturable PCB designs using Cadsoft Eagle and Gerber files.