Sunny Patel on Design Data Formats

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For this issue on design data file formats, we wanted to speak with someone who has experience using Gerber, IPC-2581, and ODB++. Sunny Patel of Candor Industries has used all three of these formats over the years, so we asked him to share his opinion of each format. He also points out why it might be more important to focus on flexibility than any one specific format.  

Barry Matties: Sunny, this month we’re looking at design data file formats: Gerber, IPC-2581, and ODB++. Which of these are the most common files coming into your shop?

Sunny Patel: Gerber and ODB++.

Matties: One of the things we hear is that IPC-2581 has a lot of benefits, but everyone is most familiar with Gerber, and they’re saying, “Well, if a fabricator specifies that you have to provide 2581, they run the risk of losing the business.” Does it matter to you what file type comes in?

Patel: No, to be honest, we’re always trying to capture more customers. So there’s rarely any pushback to a customer, even material- or technology-wise. It’s really hard to push back on anything at this point, even with the extra business. The customer is in the driver’s seat for sure.

Matties: Is there any benefit that you see for one format over the others that the industry should be aware of?

Patel: I know that with Gerbers there’s a lot more opportunity to put different types of data into our pre-CAM software. That could be just us, but we haven’t had any issues so far, knock on wood, with any of the file formats. I just feel like there’s more opportunity to edit and make micro-adjustments on the HDI side with Gerber. But let’s see what happens. Everyone is always improving their file formats.

Matties: Right. It’s interesting because there are a lot of people advocating for each of these. Obviously, everyone has a horse in the race somewhere. So, we’re trying to understand why Gerber is sticking around, despite the fact that the newer formats may offer some efficiency gains for the users.

Patel: Yes, ODB++ is definitely easier for most customers in terms of output, and it’s just what it is. Whatever they output is what they’re going to get. But I believe there’s some risk of missing data errors if it’s ODB++, but you know what, I’ve never run into any issues, especially with customers frequently sending IPC net list files to compare data. So, who knows?

Matties: But from your point of view, it’s one or all, it doesn’t matter.

Patel: So far, so good. Either way. Flexibility, to me, seems more important. We should be ready for anything, rather than asking for something specific.

To read this entire conversation, which appeared in the October 2021 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.


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