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Version 13.0 Release Highlights Print E-mail
New Instrinsic Aperture Support
GerbTool now supports a wide array of intrinsic apertures. This increased range of apertures allows you to focus on the specific definition characteristics but without the need to create “custom” apertures to support them. You can make quick work out of creating some of today’s more common shapes like Rounded Rectangles, Square Thermals, and more. You can now specify not only outer and inner diameters of thermals, but you can also define the number, angle, and width of the spokes quickly and easily. Intelligent data transfer formats such as ODB++ and GenCAM (yet to be supported) also benefit from the increase in intrinsic apertures with fewer translations to customs and a more streamlined approach to reading and writing for these formats.

GUI Driven Aperture Conversion
As much as we would all like for 274D to just go away; the fact remains that it is still in regular use today. Along with it comes a myriad of “one-off” aperture table formats. These unique aperture tables make for a cumbersome and time-consuming import process within most CAM systems. Now with GerbTool version 13 you can benefit from a full-featured, GUI driven aperture table conversion that allows you to get your data in fast and accurately. To read in an aperture table, you need only point-and-click on the file. Once GerbTool has it, you can then click-and-drag the column information and shape definitions into position just by looking at the aperture file content. Once complete, GerbTool takes over and automatically reads in the definitions – it is that simple…

Advanced Panelization
The panelization aspects of a given design are no longer just a simple “step and repeat”; the process as evolved in to that of a choreographed flow of complex, yet well defined, information that enables the tool to complete as much of the panelization, tooling, coupon placement, venting, and thieving as possible. All that is left for you to do is simply update various date codes, text, and nomenclature that would be unique to the job being processed. To that end, GerbTool has leaped ahead with the introduction of a robust Advanced Panelization; offering you the ability to panelize not just one job but multiple jobs in a single panel. Additionally, you also benefit from GerbTool’s unique approach to handling tooling information, coupons, title blocks, and any other feature that is needed within the panel-frame; this approach allows for any .GTD database to be used within the panel. You can place as many .GTD files are necessary in order to accommodate your tooling requirements. Panel templates can be created so that the initial placement of objects such as pinning holes, test coupons, plating coupons, and title blocks need only be placed once. These templates can then be used again and again as new “one-up” designs come in for processing.

Flexibility is virtually unlimited through the GerbTool method of panelization. Each .GTD data-set can have its own unique placement characteristics; everything from placement origin, step information, and rotation. Even the border layer can be set to process from the centerline or the edge of the aperture that was used to draw it. No other system in this price range can offer the same level of flexibility and power that GerbTool has achieved with the release of Advanced Panelization technology.

New Venting/Thieving Technology
Working in conjunction with the new Advanced Panelization are GerbTool’s new Venting/Thieving capabilities. Now you will benefit from a single process step-up that allows groups of layers to be defined; each group having their own unique venting/thieving properties. Once the characteristics of the pattern information are defined, GerbTool takes over and processes everything at once. No manual merging, no building of separate venting/thieving layers, and no headaches over positive and negative layer treatment.

GerbTool version 13 can handle not only solid and dot patterns; it can also accommodate complex cross-hatches and star-burst patterns. Each pattern can be generated in either a positive or negative fashion, which allows for usage on both internal signal layers as well as internal plane layers. Coupled along with the new venting/thieving technology comes a fast and accurate robber bar generation as well. You can define complete robber bar perimeters for your panel frames or you can break things down to just individual bars along each edge of the panel. Once again, not other system can offer this level of flexibility and power within the GerbTool price range.

Automatic Solder Mask Generation/Optimization
Accurate solder mask generation has plagued the printed circuit design and fabrication industry for years. This is primarily due to the CAD system’s failure to provide adequate functionality and analysis in this area; leaving the job solely to the user through interactive means. With this release of GerbTool, you benefit from the ability to define the basic characteristics of their solder mask and have GerbTool automatically generate a mask that meets your requirements based upon a desired Oversize, Minimum Oversize, Mask-to-Mask Spacing, and Mask-to-Trace Spacing. GerbTool can quickly vary the openings, within the limits given, or can maintain the desired size while shaving the necessary areas to within the minimum oversize In addition, GerbTool also has a mode for detecting and processing Fine-Pitch SMD pads; automatically generating block openings for those areas to help prevent mask contamination between pads.

Automatic Paste Mask Generation/Optimization
Solder paste generation is much the same as solder mask, in that there is little or no functionality and/or analysis provided by the CAD system. Users are left to fend for themselves most of the time, or they just leave the processing up to the Stencil House. Both Designers and Stencil Houses benefit from GerbTool’s Automatic Paste Mask Generation. Like the solder mask processing, you need only provide the basic rules which define your mask – Desired Undersize, Minimum Undersize, Rounded Corners, and Process Fine-Pitch SMD pads with separate X and Y Undersize values. GerbTool will then take over and generate a fully usable paste mask layer quickly and accurately. Stencil Houses will find this feature most useful as it will dramatically reduce the amount of time spent processing incoming customer data. The faster a Stencil House can process the data, the more stencils they can produce, which ultimately results in more revenue generated.

New PADS ASCII Interface (Import Only)
Streamlining the flow of information from Design to Manufacturing is becoming more and more important to many users today. GerbTool’s support of a PADS ASCII interface benefits the PowerPCB user community by providing them with a new choice when it comes to their intelligent CAM needs. Additional benefits can be found through this interface; PowerPCB users can use GerbTool as their means for getting to IPC-D-356 and ODB++ intelligently.

ODB++ Export
GerbTool version 13 now supports ODB++ Export. This benefits those users that already have Valor product in house but cannot afford to purchase any additional products from Valor. These same shops are still seeing a rise in demand but are looking for less expensive means to pre-processing the incoming data for CAM. Additional benefits come in using this interface in conjunction with the PADS ASCII interface, which in turn allows PADS users a new means for getting ODB++ from PowerPCB data.

Enhanced DXF Support
DXF continues to be in great demand within the fabrication market. This comes primarily from the Flex-Circuit, BGA, and Chemical Etch Stencil customers. None of these customers have a CAD product that is truly dedicated to their needs, so they are all forced to use AutoCAD due to its versatile drawing capabilities. So as to adequately support these users, this release brings as to the AutoCAD 2000 level; with additional improvements in polygon handling as well as end-cap processing.

Support of CAM350 7.X Databases
GerbTool maintains is flexibility in the data inputs that it is capable of supporting by stepping up the version level of CAM350 DirectCAM. Previously GerbTool only support up to version 6.X; however with the addition of new intrinsic apertures and advanced panelization GerbTool can now effectively support CAM350 7.X or higher with ease. 

Enhanced IPC-D-356A Support
IPC-D-356 data has become important for fabricators, as they use it to accurately verify the connectivity of a customer job as it comes off the line and is sent for bare-board testing. GerbTool is committed to the continued support of this format, and this release has significant increases in 356 capabilities. Version 13 now offers full support of the IPC-D-356A derivative (whereas previous versions only had partial support). You benefit from a consolidated Exporting module that is used by both the general Export process as well as the Bare-Board Test process. Along with this consolidation comes increased support of Trace Data, Polygon Support, and Adjacency information. You can fully configure these options to suit virtually any need. GerbTool version 13 also fully supports IPC-D-356A imports as well, showing full trace data for external and internal layers graphically on screen.

GT-dbV Database Viewer
We are introducing a new GerbTool bundle: GT-dbV. This free GerbTool database viewer shares the same GUI and functions as other GerbTool bundles. It allows you to easily share your GerbTool .GTD databases with colleagues who need to view your data. There is no licensing to fuss with GT-dbV.

Analysis Reporting
Analysis reports are back! After switching to the Navigator method for viewing violation data, some users noticed that while you could print your individual errors there was an absence of a column-based report. WISE is pleased to announce that you can now obtain column based ASCII text reports of the violations that might exist within a given design. You benefit from these reports by being able to document “hardcopy” as they process a design for manufacturability, keeping a complete running history on file with the rest of the design documentation. Of course all of this information will remain in the .GTD database as well, but we recognize that sometimes having a piece of paper in front of you can suit your needs better.

New Compatibility Mode
With version 13 comes a new “compatibility mode” that enables GerbTool to mimic the popular hotkeys of other products: CAM350 and CAMMaster. The benefits are tremendous in that compatibility mode will make it that much easier for users of other tools to migrate to GerbTool. 

Display Backside
A somewhat small but yet very important feature; viewing a design from a “backside” perspective is very useful when it comes to adding text, nomenclature, or any other piece of information that needs to be placed on the solder side layer. Additionally, more and more boards have both top and bottom side components and the Display Backside function enables you to quickly toggle your view for silkscreen readability. Like the Negative View mode, Display Backside can be toggled with a simple hotkey.