To create a printed circuit board (PCB), there are three main steps:
- Design your PCB using KiCad
- Create Gerber files
- Send your Gerber files to a prototype manufacturer
The previous lessons explained how to design a PCB in Kicad. So the next step is to create Gerber Files. By creating Gerber files from your design, your design files can be viewed by all the manufacturers out there – no matter which software you used to design the board.
Create Gerber Files With KiCad
To create Gerber files in Kicad open your board design and click in Plot in the File menu:
This will open up the window for creating Gerber files. There you need to choose which layers you want to create Gerber files out of. For a standard two-layer PCB, these are the layers you need:
- F.Cu – Copper on the front side
- B.Cu – Copper on the back side
- F.SilkS – Silk Screen (text on the board) on the front side
- B.SilkS – Silk Screen (text on the board) on the back side
- F.Mask – Solder Mask (the green finish) on the front side
- B.Mask – Solder Mask (the green finish) on the back side
- Edge.Cuts – The outline of the board
Choose where you want the files to be created under Output Directory. Then click on Plot to create the Gerber files.
Next, you need to create a Drill file. This is a .txt file that contains information about where to drill holes in your board. Click on the Generate Drill File button. Choose where you want the file to be created under Output Directory. Then click on the Drill File button.
Send Your Gerber Files To A Board Manufacturer
Now that you have your Gerber files ready, the first things you need to do is to add them all to a zip-file. Usually you can select select the Gerber files in Windows Explorer, right-click and choose Send To -> Compressed (zipped) folder.
If you want to get your board made with Seeed Studio, go to https://www.seeedstudio.com/fusion_pcb.html and upload your zip-file there. Finish the order process, and in a few days or weeks (depending on which shipping option you chose) – you’ll have your own PCB design in hand!
There are many alternatives to Seeed Studio – for example PCBWay and OSH Park (US based).