How to create a Gerber file that contains only filled vias?


#1

Hello,

This afternoon, I wanted to send Gerber and drill files to my favorite manufacturer. I have seen he is now able to fill vias (with conductive resin or copper). As I have no idea to indicate on drill or Gerber files which hole is a via and which other comes from a component (through hole), I called him and he has indicated that I have to add a new Gerber file with filled vias.

Is Kicad able to create this kind of file ? I haven’t found any option or property to create this new file.

Best regards,

JB


#2

You can use any one of extra layers which are not used for anything else and place graphical marks there. They can be dots or X or whatever. If you are curious you can create drill files and see how they look like in a gerber viewer. The manufacturers should be able to read and interpret something like that. When you plot the gerber include Edge.Cuts to the output (you should have the board edges there for reference, as you have them in other gerbers). That’s how I would try it, sending the result to the manufacturer.


#3

Do all your vias need to be filled? If so, can you just make your via drill size unique w.r.t. the rest of the through-holes on the board, and then just add a note for your vendor that says something like "all 0.15mm holes are to be filled/capped)?


#4

No, I can’t. This PCB is a power supply with a lot of through hole components. Some vias are on signal tracks and some other on power tracks (20A).


#5

But even if you have a power via type with larger drill, can’t you just make sure it is (even slightly) different size from the component through holes?


#6

Yes, I could, but my vendor want two gerber files, one for via and one for component holes…


#7

I have seen in https://www.eurocircuits.com/blog/extended-gerber-extended-gerber-x2/
that an attribute is used to indicate a filled via. In pcbnew, menu tracer, I can produce a set of Gerber files with extended attributes, but I haven’t seen if this option activate some options or hidden menu in pcbnew. I haven’t found any option to indicate that a via has to be filled in its properties.


#8

KiCad doesn’t support specifying filled vias right now. You could open a feature request on the launchpad issue tracker and someone might write the code for it in a future release. In the meantime, you’ll have to use some kind of workaround to communicate to your fabricator which vias are to be filled.


#9

There are a couple of issues on the lengthy KiCad wishlist which relate to making better use of X2 features, e.g https://bugs.launchpad.net/kicad/+bug/980919 seems most relevant.

I think @eelik has the most practical answer. It might be possible to create a script to do it.


#10

[quote=“bobc, post:9, topic:9229”]
There are a couple of issues on the lengthy KiCad wishlist which relate to making better use of X2 features . . . [/quote]

Don’t rush things just so KiCAD can advertise, “KiCAD supports X2”!

Give careful thought to how X2 features are integrated into the KiCAD user interface. Board fabricators seem to be slow to add X2 support, and files containing X2 syntax seem to be incompatible with some non-X2 CAM programs. It would be frustrating to use X2 features while designing a board, only yo discover that the board manufacturer doesn’t support X2 . . . . and then you have to back them all out, and insert some kind of workaround in their places.

Dale


#11

I agree, there are several competing CAM formats, as well as the fallback option of “plain old gerber”. Ucamco, as the new owners of “Gerber”, have been aggressively pushing their own proprietary format, encouraging CAD vendors and users towards X2. Obviously, with the plan that PCB manufacturers then buy X2 compatible CAM software from Ucamco.

I really don’t know why KiCad got into bed with Ucamco, JP Charras seems to have a working relationship with them, I don’t know if Ucamco provided any sponsorship. I would have preferred a generic solution in KiCad, and plugin modules to support specific vendor formats. Getting locked in to X2 doesn’t seem the right direction to me.

It’s a win for Ucamco anyway, they quote KiCad in their marketing material.


#12

Thanks a lot for this idea. I will try.


#13

I once accidentally left that box ticked (after experimenting with a daily build) before sending the gerbers to a manufacturer, and they couldn’t read the file.


#14

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