PCB layout manipulation for Panelization


Recently had to replace Top paste layer on an existing Panel’s gerber, as a “last minute” change for the Stencil.
It’s a bit cumbersome to me with KiCad, but I think it could be easily improved.
I’ve started with converting my Panel outline from Gerber to PCBNEW (using KiCad’s built-in Gerber viewer).
Then, after launching PCBNew in a standalone mode, I’ve opened this Outline file and used “Append board” function to populate my single boards into proper places of the Panel outline.

It would be much easier if:

  1. KiCad would allow to “group” single instance board into a single object I could easily select and manipulate (move, rotate etc.). Right now there’s no “Board” object, but the bunch of tracks/footprints/etc., everything being treated as separate object.
  2. As soon as I’ve appended another instance of my board to populate the panel, KiCad started to ratsnest all the identical nets of my single boards.
    So what would be greatly helpful (to me), is kind of “Panel mode” where the existing board would be a single object to manipulate; and in this mode, PCBNew could totally ignore the netlist connections (considering a single board as a DRC-verified object).

What’s your opinion on this? And maybe there are some plans to implement these or equivalent features? Or maybe my workflow idea is plain wrong?


Yes, I would vote for the “group” idea. It didn’t happen with Kicad, but with a software I was using earlier,
I accidentally moved some part of one of the circuits, and created a sort circuit. I’m not sure it would happen
with Kicad, but if it could have a panel mode, allowing to have non-editable tiles, it would be really good.
Another idea: it would also be good if I could program a space between to circuits. The PCB maker where I
order my circuits defines a minimal size for the router which is 3mm. In this case, the tiles could be moved
until they are just at the limit of the next tile’s territorial waters.
And yet another one: given a set of circuits, it would be good if it could automatically place them to minimize
the suface loss.