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Let's say I'm using a software like EagleCAD to create a panel with a few copies of a design (or even different designs).

There is a "Dimension" layer (mapped to an Outline layer, e.g., GKO), but this is for the overall outline of the panel.

Which layer is traditionally used to communicate where the individual cut-outs should happen around each constituent board/piece on the panel?

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I've always used the dimension layer for marking out anywhere there should not be PCB, whether that's the outer edge or a cutout. I believe it is traditionally used for that (with 100 mil wide lines).

However, if you're marking out boards that should actually be separate pieces you should use the 'Vscore' layer. This notes the a score line, for snapping boards apart should be placed. If you're planning on getting back boards that are completely cut apart then you just order more than one in the case of a duplicate or separate orders in the case of different designs.

The best bet in the end is to just ask your board house. It's them you're trying to describe your design to with the layout, so just ask what dialect they use.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This has been my approach as well \$\endgroup\$ – Funkyguy Jul 7 '14 at 3:07
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There are not standardized layer names for Gerber files, so usually you will want to include a readme file that maps the file names to layer in the stackup.

Normally for outline, you will create a separate Gerber layer for the PCB (or panel) that has the V-groove score line centers and/or milling outlines shown. You do not show the midpoint of the milling toolpath, but rather the centers of the lines you draw indicate the edges. You should allow at least enough space for a standard milling cutter (2.4mm). The board house will translate the contents of that layer into toolpaths for the mill etc.

It may be acceptable for very simple boards to show the outline of a rectangular board on the silk screen layer, but I think that is bad practice.

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