PCB Print options

Hello everyone, is there a means (or an add_on) capable of squealing where we want the printing of the PCB on the sheet. By default the print is done in thecenter of the page, for a big pcb it’s good, but for a small it’s not ecological! I saw the solution to change the type of sheet, A3 in A4 or A4 in A5 etc … but it’s not great.


Normally it prints the whole page, inclusive the border decoration graphics and title block.
Are you printing from Pcbnew or from Gerbview?

What is the reason behind:

It’s just a sheet of paper.
In the old days I experimented a bit with printing with a laser printer on overhead sheets, but it never worked well for me. I have vague memories, of printing on the top of such a sheet, and then cutting a few centimeters off, and re-using the same sheet (130x the price of paper) and could get 4 or 5 PCB’s out of a single sheet.

If you want to do something similar, then move the whole PCB to a corner of the sheet and also suppress the border while printing (or remove the whole sheet decoration graphics from the PCB). There is a gotcha though. If you remove all graphics from the sheet, then apparently KiCad replaces it with one of the default sheets.

you’re right @paulvdh, just a piece of sheet …

Here the snap of print preview :

So, for a 2 layers, 2 sheets, 4 layers 4 sheets, etc.
I just thought: How can I optimize printing …

Best current workaround is probably to print to a file, or export as a vector format (.pdf, .svg, postscript) and then combine multiple PCB’s or gerber layers in a single drawing before printing.

What is the other reason to print PCB than to home made it?
I am asking because 4 layers PCB doesn’t suit me doing it at home.

Hi @piotr, I have never talked about “do at home”? !!?
I speak to know how to print a circuit (any face) on an A4 sheet for example, else than in the middle of the page? By default that’s what Kicad does. Instead of the center, I would like the top side left for example, today it’s not easy to do.

You are right. During editing my post I lost its sense.
I just don’t know other reason to print copper layers then when someone wants to home made PCB with thermo-transfer technique. And as you are writing about 4 layers than you certainly don’t think of that. So I just would like to understand what are the real needs to print copper layers?

Hi @Piotr, you’re right, 4 and more layers are not usual. Before manufacturing, is it essential to check with real size the global PCB layer by layer, to check the real size of holes, via (blinds via) and so on, otherwise when you receive your hardware if one defect is present this can completely reduce to zero your work, and cost rework and money.

I think that vidalv wants paper documentation of his layers. Including overlays, solder mask, etc. there are many and he does not want so many sheets of paper with only a small portion of each page being used. I think the nicest way would be to plot to .pdf but that would require a good .pdf editor. Does anyone know of a GOOD free .pdf editor?
The other way would be to produce .png images; perhaps best from gerbers to .png somehow. Then the .png files can easily be combined onto a page.

I check the real size on the layout, measuring distances with coordinates. Using spacebar to set the relative origin.

Furthermore, my vias are 0.3 , 0.5 or 0.8 mm. It’s very difficult to measure this vias on paper. Or tracks under 0.5 mm.

A printed copy is useful to check if a real component fits on its footprint, mainly when the dimensions are not well defined in the datasheet or there is no datasheet at all.

Anyway your issue was how to move the printed pcb to a corner of the sheet. Maybe, as someone has already said, moving the whole layout to another place of the sheet.

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For documentation I print black element (like CrtYd + Ref) at light gray copper. I use for it Plot to SVG (at first I experimented with Export to SVG but there are reasons I end with Plot). Then SVG you can easily put into OpenOffice (or LibreOffice) Write document. I’ve never really wanted a 1: 1 scale, but I don’t think that’s a big deal. There are no problems with inserting multiple images on one page of the document.

On Linux I use a script called pdfnup, which is a wrapper for pdfjam. https://pdfsam.org/ might be a better option.

I used plot to PDF which generated one PDF file for each layer, and the in the directory wih the gerbers did:

pdfnup --nup 2x2 --outfile combined.pdf *.pdf

This got me a single PDF file with 4 layers per page. Anyway there are free PDF tools out there so it’s worth experimenting a little.

Off-topic but I even found a way to get Chinese datasheets in PDF translated and retaining the page formatting, thanks to DeepL and Adobe’s free online PDF to Word converter. https://hackaday.io/page/10164-translating-chinese-datasheets-in-pdf describes my process.

If you want to go mix and mash different PCB’s together, then .svg is probably a much better format then .pdf.

Both the PDF and SVG output from pcbnew will be vector format so there is no loss of information either way. SVG CLI tools are available too, but you will find many out there are actually tools for merging SVG icons for optimising web pages.

Hello everyone, thank you for approaches. In fact there are two things that I would like to check, the first is that I draw a physically component (with the MAO FreeCad tool for example) and in the future I would like to compare it on the PCB in Scale 1: 1 to verify, if my component comes out or not. The second is to have (for small circuits) the different layers on one page rather than a page with a tiny circuit. The great brother cadence allow this:

So even if it’s not me who realizes the PCB I would like to be sure of what I send before manufacture. The idea of PDF / SVG is seductive, but again you have to go through multiple virtual impressions to make a final assembly, it’s a lot of work! But hey, it does not matter if today there are no other solutions. But the idea of multiple printing on one page (depending on the format) is to dig.

Well it’s not as bad as it looks. When you plot to PDF, you get all the layers in one go. Only thing is they are all black and I haven’t checked if they can be made other colours. And it’s probably scriptable using the Python API.

Combining multiple PDF, or PS for that matter, per page isn’t a task that’s unique to KiCad so solutions will have to be found outside.


would it be a problem to add the x offset and y offset from the left bottom corner of the sheet in the print settings?