The IPC-2581 File Format
Eminent PCB manufacturers eliminate the problems by adopting design transfer standards that addresses all aspects of the fabrication and assembly process. Two new open standards are available, and these enable efficient and accurate data exchange from the PCB designer to the manufacturing fabricators and assemblers. Ucamco administers one of these standards, the Gerber X2, while the IPC Consortium administers the other, the IPC-2581. Both are open standards, free from any proprietary restrictions.
Contributors from a wide range of PCB industry segment initiated, developed, and drove the IPC-2581 standard. The IPC-2581 is a single data format and within a single file, contains all aspects of the PCB design, such as layer stackup, materials, assembly, and test details.
With the IPC-2581 standard, the designer can include details of layer stack and information on materials to ensure proper layer order. The standard is suitable for stackups of complex board design such as related to rigid-flex boards, and is capable of handling special materials. It can also include drill and mill data for blind, buried, and filled via types. It also supports information on back drilling, V-grooves, slots, and cavities. For bare board testing, designers can include the net-list as well.
In addition to a complete set of fabrication data, the IPC-2581 can also hold assembly data. Therefore, it can contain not only the pick-and-place information, but also the information on polarity and rotation of a component, enabling support for both stacked and embedded components.
In addition to assembly drawings, the IPC-2581 standard has the capability to generate the documentation for bill of materials and purchasing. Therefore, the standard can tie up with PLM/ERP system data to create links between design and supply chain facilities. The greatest advantage of the IPC-2581 is one single file containing the entire data related to fabrication and assembly.