KiCAD – Rayming reads in native KiCAD-data

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What is KiCAD?

KiCAD is a free and open-source software suite for electronic design automation (EDA). It facilitates the design of schematics for electronic circuits and their conversion to printed circuit board (PCB) designs. KiCAD was developed by Jean-Pierre Charras and is released under the GNU General Public License.

Key features of KiCAD include:

  • Schematic capture
  • PCB layout editor
  • 3D viewer
  • Gerber viewer
  • SPICE circuit simulator

KiCAD supports all the standard EDA file formats such as EAGLE, Altium, and OrCAD. It runs on Windows, Linux and macOS.

What is Rayming?

Rayming is a Chinese PCB manufacturer that offers low-cost, high-quality PCB fabrication and assembly services. They have been in business since 2005 and have a strong reputation in the maker and hobbyist communities.

Rayming offers the following services:

  • PCB fabrication (from 1 to 16 layers)
  • PCB Assembly (SMT and through-hole)
  • Stencil fabrication
  • 3D printing
  • CNC machining

One of the key advantages of Rayming is their ability to work with a wide range of EDA file formats, including native KiCAD files. This makes it easy for designers to send their KiCAD projects directly to Rayming for manufacturing without having to export to intermediary formats like Gerber or ODB++.

How does Rayming read native KiCAD data?

KiCAD stores design data in a set of plaintext files with specific extensions. The main file types are:

Extension Description
.sch Schematic file
.kicad_pcb PCB layout file
.lib Schematic symbol library
.pretty PCB footprint library
.kicad_mod Footprint file (used in .pretty libraries)

When a designer sends a KiCAD project to Rayming, they include all of these files in a zip archive. Rayming’s software is able to read these files directly and extract all the necessary information for manufacturing.

The process works like this:

  1. Rayming’s software reads the .sch file to get the schematic data (component names, values, connections, etc.)
  2. It reads the .kicad_pcb file to get the PCB layout data (board outline, layer stackup, drill holes, etc.)
  3. It cross-references the .sch and .kicad_pcb files to match components in the schematic to their footprints on the PCB.
  4. It reads the .lib and .pretty/.kicad_mod files to get the schematic symbols and PCB footprints for each component.
  5. It generates the necessary files for manufacturing (Gerbers, drill files, pick-and-place files, etc.)

By reading the native KiCAD files directly, Rayming eliminates the need for intermediate file formats and reduces the chances of errors or lost data. This streamlines the process and helps ensure that the manufactured PCB matches the designer’s intent.

Benefits of using KiCAD and Rayming together

Using KiCAD for design and Rayming for manufacturing offers several benefits:

  • Cost savings: Both KiCAD and Rayming are known for being affordable options in their respective domains. Using them together can help reduce the overall cost of bringing a PCB design to market.
  • Ease of use: KiCAD has a user-friendly interface and extensive documentation, making it accessible to both novice and experienced designers. Rayming’s ability to read native KiCAD files makes the handoff for manufacturing simple and straightforward.
  • Rapid iteration: The combination of KiCAD’s quick design process and Rayming’s fast turnaround times enables designers to iterate on their PCBs quickly and efficiently. This is especially valuable in agile development environments.
  • Community support: Both KiCAD and Rayming have active user communities where designers can ask questions, share tips, and collaborate on projects. This can be a valuable resource for troubleshooting issues or getting feedback on designs.

Rayming’s KiCAD-specific features

In addition to reading native KiCAD files, Rayming offers some features specifically tailored for KiCAD users:

  • Design rule checking (DRC): Rayming’s software can perform a DRC on KiCAD designs to check for common manufacturing issues like minimum trace width, minimum clearance, and drill hole size. This helps catch problems early and avoids delays in manufacturing.
  • 3D viewer: Rayming provides a web-based 3D viewer that can display KiCAD designs in full color. This allows designers to preview their PCBs and catch any issues with component placement or clearances.
  • Assembly support: Rayming has experience assembling PCBs designed in KiCAD and can offer guidance on component selection, placement, and routing to ensure optimal manufacturability.

Step-by-step guide to using KiCAD and Rayming

Here’s a basic walkthrough of the process of designing a PCB in KiCAD and having it manufactured by Rayming:

  1. Create a new KiCAD project: Open KiCAD and click “File” > “New” > “Project”. Choose a name and location for your project and click “Save”.

  2. Design your schematic: Double-click on the .sch file in the project tree to open the schematic editor. Use the tools in the toolbar to place components, draw wires, and add labels. You can find components in the built-in libraries or create your own using the symbol editor.

  3. Assign footprints: Once your schematic is complete, you need to assign PCB footprints to each component. Right-click on a component and select “Assign Footprint” to open the footprint library. Choose an appropriate footprint for each component and click “OK”.

  4. Generate netlist: Go to “Tools” > “Generate Netlist File” and choose “KiCad” as the netlist format. Click “Generate” to create the netlist file.

  5. Design your PCB: Double-click on the .kicad_pcb file in the project tree to open the PCB editor. Use the tools in the toolbar to place components, route traces, and define the board outline. Pay attention to the design rules and ensure that your PCB is manufacturable.

  6. Generate manufacturing files: Go to “File” > “Plot” to open the plot window. Select “Gerber” as the plot format and choose the layers you want to include (usually copper, soldermask, and silkscreen). Click “Plot” to generate the Gerber files. Then go to “File” > “Fabrication Outputs” > “Drill Files” to generate the drill files.

  7. Send files to Rayming: Package your KiCAD project files (schematic, PCB layout, libraries) and manufacturing files (Gerbers, drill files) into a zip archive. Go to Rayming’s website and upload your zip file for a quote. Choose your desired specifications (quantity, PCB thickness, color, surface finish, etc.) and place your order.

  8. Receive your PCBs: Rayming will manufacture your PCBs and ship them to you. Typical turnaround time is 1-2 weeks depending on the complexity of the design and the chosen shipping method.

Troubleshooting common issues

Here are some common issues that can arise when using KiCAD and Rayming and how to troubleshoot them:

  • Footprint mismatch: If the footprints in your PCB layout don’t match the actual components, it can cause issues with soldering and assembly. Double-check that you have assigned the correct footprint to each component in the schematic and that the footprint dimensions are accurate.
  • Clearance violations: If your PCB has traces or components that are too close together, it can cause short circuits or manufacturing issues. Use the DRC tool in KiCAD to check for clearance violations and adjust your layout accordingly. Rayming’s DRC can also catch these issues when you submit your files.
  • Incorrect layer stackup: Make sure that your PCB layer stackup matches what you specified in your Rayming order. KiCAD’s layer setup can be confusing, so it’s a good idea to double-check that you have the right number of copper layers and that they are in the correct order.
  • Missing files: When sending your KiCAD project to Rayming, make sure to include all the necessary files (schematic, PCB layout, libraries, Gerbers, drill files). If any files are missing, it can delay the manufacturing process. Use a checklist to ensure that you have everything before submitting your order.


Can I use KiCAD for commercial projects?

Yes, KiCAD is free and open-source software, so you can use it for any type of project, including commercial ones. There are no licensing fees or restrictions.

Does Rayming offer assembly services for KiCAD PCBs?

Yes, Rayming offers both PCB fabrication and assembly services. They have experience working with KiCAD designs and can handle both surface-mount and through-hole components.

What is the minimum order quantity for PCBs at Rayming?

Rayming has no minimum order quantity for PCBs. You can order as few as one PCB, which is great for prototyping and small-batch production.

How long does it take to receive PCBs from Rayming?

Rayming’s standard lead time is 2-3 days for PCB fabrication and 5-7 days for PCB assembly. Shipping time depends on your location and the chosen shipping method. Express options are available for faster turnaround.

Can I use Rayming’s services if I’m not in China?

Yes, Rayming serves customers worldwide. They offer shipping to most countries via DHL, FedEx, or UPS. You can get a shipping quote on their website based on your location and desired shipping method.


KiCAD and Rayming are a powerful combination for PCB design and manufacturing. KiCAD’s free and open-source design tools make it accessible to a wide range of users, from hobbyists to professionals. Rayming’s ability to read native KiCAD files streamlines the manufacturing process and ensures that the final PCB matches the designer’s intent.

By following best practices and taking advantage of features like DRC and 3D previews, designers can create high-quality PCBs quickly and efficiently. And with Rayming’s affordable pricing and quick turnaround times, it’s easier than ever to bring those designs to life.

Whether you’re a beginner just starting out with PCB design or an experienced engineer looking for a reliable manufacturing partner, KiCAD and Rayming are worth considering. With a little practice and experimentation, you can unlock the full potential of this dynamic duo and take your electronic projects to the next level.