How to export Diptrace PCB to Gerber files

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Introduction to Diptrace and Gerber Files

Diptrace is a powerful and user-friendly PCB design software that allows users to create high-quality printed circuit boards. One of the essential steps in the PCB manufacturing process is generating Gerber files, which contain all the necessary information for the PCB fabrication. In this article, we will guide you through the process of exporting your Diptrace PCB design to Gerber files, ensuring that your design is ready for manufacturing.

What is Diptrace?

Diptrace is an electronic design automation (EDA) software package that enables users to create schematic diagrams and design printed circuit boards. It offers a comprehensive set of tools and features, making it suitable for both hobbyists and professionals. Some of the key features of Diptrace include:

  • Intuitive and user-friendly interface
  • Powerful schematic and PCB layout editors
  • Extensive component libraries
  • 3D visualization and modeling
  • Automatic and manual routing options
  • Real-time design rule checking (DRC)
  • Multilingual support

What are Gerber Files?

Gerber files are a standard format used in the PCB industry to describe the printed Circuit Board Design for manufacturing. They contain all the necessary information, such as copper layers, solder mask, silk screen, and drill data, required to fabricate the PCB. Gerber files are named after their creator, H. Joseph Gerber, who developed the format in the 1960s.

A typical set of Gerber files includes:

  • Top and bottom copper layers (GTL and GBL)
  • Top and bottom solder mask layers (GTS and GBS)
  • Top and bottom silkscreen layers (GTO and GBO)
  • Solder Paste layers (GTP)
  • Drill data (TXT or Excellon format)

Preparing Your Diptrace PCB Design for Gerber Export

Before exporting your Diptrace PCB design to Gerber files, it is essential to ensure that your design is complete and error-free. Follow these steps to prepare your design for Gerber export:

1. Design Rule Check (DRC)

Perform a Design Rule Check (DRC) to identify any design issues, such as shorts, open circuits, or clearance violations. To run a DRC in Diptrace:

  1. Go to the “Verification” menu in the PCB Layout Editor
  2. Click on “Check Design Rules”
  3. Configure the DRC settings according to your design requirements
  4. Click “Check” to start the DRC process
  5. Review and resolve any reported issues

2. Board Outline and Dimensions

Ensure that your PCB has a clearly defined board outline and correct dimensions. To check and modify the board outline in Diptrace:

  1. Select the “Board Outline” layer in the Layers panel
  2. Use the drawing tools to create or modify the board outline
  3. Double-check the dimensions and make any necessary adjustments

3. Layer Stack-up

Verify that your layer stack-up is correctly configured and matches your manufacturing requirements. To review and modify the layer stack-up in Diptrace:

  1. Go to the “Route” menu in the PCB Layout Editor
  2. Click on “Layer Stack”
  3. Review the layer stack-up and make any necessary changes
  4. Click “OK” to apply the changes

4. Copper Pour and Plane Connection

If your design includes copper pour or power/ground planes, ensure they are properly connected to the appropriate nets. To check and modify copper pour and plane connections in Diptrace:

  1. Select the desired copper pour or plane
  2. Right-click and choose “Properties”
  3. In the Properties dialog, verify the “Net” setting and make any necessary changes
  4. Click “OK” to apply the changes

Exporting Gerber Files from Diptrace

Once your Diptrace PCB design is prepared and error-free, follow these steps to export Gerber files:

Step 1: Open the Gerber Export Dialog

  1. In the PCB Layout Editor, go to the “File” menu
  2. Click on “Export”
  3. Select “Gerber…” from the submenu

Step 2: Configure Gerber Export Settings

In the Gerber Export dialog, configure the following settings:

  1. Output directory: Choose the folder where you want to save the Gerber files
  2. Prefix: Enter a prefix for the Gerber file names (e.g., your project name)
  3. Units: Select the appropriate units (inches or millimeters) for your design
  4. Format: Choose the desired Gerber format (RS-274X or RS-274D)
  5. Apertures: Select the aperture format (embedded or separate file)
  6. Coordinates: Choose the coordinate format (absolute or incremental)
  7. Zeroes: Select the leading zero suppression option (leading or trailing)
  8. Layers: Select the layers you want to export (e.g., copper, solder mask, silkscreen)

Step 3: Export Drill Files

In the same Gerber Export dialog, configure the drill file export settings:

  1. Check the “Export drill data” option
  2. Choose the drill file format (Excellon or Sieb & Meyer)
  3. Select the drill units (inches or millimeters)
  4. Choose the drill zeros suppression option (leading or trailing)

Step 4: Export Gerber and Drill Files

  1. Click the “Export” button to generate the Gerber and drill files
  2. Diptrace will create the Gerber and drill files in the specified output directory

Verifying and Reviewing Gerber Files

After exporting the Gerber files, it is crucial to verify and review them to ensure they are correct and complete. There are several ways to verify and review Gerber files:

1. Visual Inspection

Open the exported Gerber files in a Gerber viewer software, such as GC-Prevue or ViewMate, and visually inspect each layer for any issues or discrepancies. Look for the following:

  • Correct board outline and dimensions
  • Proper alignment of layers
  • Complete and accurate copper features
  • Correct solder mask and silkscreen openings
  • Drill holes in the correct locations and sizes

2. Automated Gerber Analysis

Use an automated Gerber analysis tool, such as GerberLogix or CAM350, to check your Gerber files for potential issues. These tools can detect common problems, such as:

  • Clearance violations
  • Acid Traps and starved thermals
  • Copper slivers and shorts
  • Incomplete or missing features
  • Incorrect aperture sizes or definitions

3. Manufacturer’s Feedback

When submitting your Gerber files to a PCB manufacturer, request their feedback on the quality and completeness of your files. Many manufacturers offer free Gerber file review services and can provide valuable insights on improving your design for manufacturability.

Best Practices for Gerber File Export

To ensure a smooth and successful PCB manufacturing process, follow these best practices when exporting Gerber files from Diptrace:

  1. Use a consistent naming convention for your Gerber files, including the project name, layer identifier, and revision number
  2. Include a README file or fabrication notes with your Gerber files, providing any additional information or instructions for the manufacturer
  3. Compress your Gerber files into a single ZIP archive for easy file transfer and management
  4. Always verify and review your Gerber files before submitting them for manufacturing
  5. Communicate openly with your PCB manufacturer and address any concerns or questions they may have regarding your design or Gerber files

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. What is the difference between RS-274X and RS-274D Gerber formats?

RS-274X, also known as Extended Gerber or X-Gerber, is the most widely used Gerber format in the PCB industry. It includes aperture definitions embedded within the Gerber file, making it easier to manage and transfer. RS-274D, or Standard Gerber, is an older format that requires a separate aperture list file. It is less common in modern PCB design and manufacturing.

2. Should I export my Gerber files in inches or millimeters?

The choice between inches and millimeters depends on your PCB manufacturer’s preferences and the standard practice in your region. In general, the electronics industry in North America tends to use inches, while the rest of the world primarily uses millimeters. Consult with your PCB manufacturer to determine their preferred unit of measurement.

3. What is the difference between absolute and incremental coordinates in Gerber files?

Absolute coordinates specify the exact position of each feature on the PCB relative to a fixed origin point (usually the lower-left corner of the board). Incremental coordinates, on the other hand, specify the position of each feature relative to the previous feature. Most PCB Manufacturers prefer absolute coordinates, as they are easier to interpret and less prone to accumulation errors.

4. How do I create a drill file in Diptrace?

Diptrace automatically generates drill files when you export Gerber files. In the Gerber Export dialog, simply check the “Export drill data” option and choose the desired drill file format (Excellon or Sieb & Meyer). Diptrace will create the drill files along with the Gerber files in the specified output directory.

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

If your PCB manufacturer reports issues with your Gerber files, first try to understand the nature of the problem and whether it is related to your design or the Gerber export process. Review your design and Gerber files using the verification methods discussed earlier, and make any necessary corrections. If you are unsure how to resolve the issue, consult with your manufacturer or seek assistance from the Diptrace support team or user community.


Exporting Gerber files from your Diptrace PCB design is a critical step in the PCB manufacturing process. By following the steps and best practices outlined in this article, you can ensure that your Gerber files are accurate, complete, and ready for fabrication. Remember to:

  1. Prepare your Diptrace PCB design for Gerber export by running DRC, checking board outline and dimensions, verifying layer stack-up, and ensuring proper copper pour and plane connections
  2. Configure the Gerber export settings in Diptrace, including output directory, file prefix, units, format, apertures, coordinates, zeroes, and layers
  3. Export drill files along with the Gerber files
  4. Verify and review your Gerber files using visual inspection, automated analysis tools, and manufacturer feedback
  5. Follow best practices for Gerber file export, such as consistent naming conventions, including fabrication notes, compressing files, and communicating with your manufacturer

By mastering the Gerber file export process in Diptrace, you can streamline your PCB design workflow, reduce the risk of manufacturing errors, and achieve high-quality results for your PCB projects.