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I've got a PDF file with a PCB layout I'de like to produce - however, I need the file in Gerber format first. Is there an easy way to convert between the two? I've found this: https://swannman.wordpress.com/projects/pdf2gerb/ - does anyone have some experience with it? Does it work well? Are there better alternatives?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I haven't used that, but a quick read reveals that it requires specific drawing methods, which the author of your PDF isn't likely to have used. Is your PDF encrypted and/or compressed, as most datasheets and appnotes are? If so, it's not going to work. \$\endgroup\$ – Kevin Vermeer Feb 4 '11 at 14:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, how large/complex is your design? The PDF should use a vector drawing, which will be crisp and precise at any size. Most EDA layout programs have some method of importing an image (for, say, a silkscreen logo). You could blow it up to a high resolution in your PDF viewer (See these Superuser questions for methods) and import that to a CAD program. That will work great for simple/small layouts, but you'll have to watch your scaling carefully! \$\endgroup\$ – Kevin Vermeer Feb 4 '11 at 14:27
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It seemed to work OK on the PDF provided in the example - the Gerbers looked OK when I imported them into GC-Prevue. However, when I created a PDF file from a PCB designed in the Pulsonix software I use, and converted it with pdf2gerb.pl, the resultant Gerber file wouldn't import into GC-Prevue.

There are some PCB manufacturers which can work from artwork supplied as Postscript files. You could convert the PDF file to Postscript by printing it to a file, using a Postscript driver.

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The best way is to ask the company that did the layout for Gerbers or CAD originals. Most companies that sell evaluation boards for their chips (e.g. TI, Altera) will do this.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ hmm...never tried this! Will have to send out a few emails... \$\endgroup\$ – Kevin Vermeer Feb 4 '11 at 20:15
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It's not directly possible, as a set of gerber files (including the drill file, which I count as a "gerber" even though it isn't really) contain more information than the average PDF, for example drill sizes and parameters of vias.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ A PDF file can include drill holes, if they are supported in the PCB software. \$\endgroup\$ – Leon Heller Feb 4 '11 at 17:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Leon Heller, I have never heard of that? The PDF file may contain polygons representing the holes (if that's what you mean), but the fabs need actual information about how the holes are drilled (like what drill size to cut, or the thickness of the plating.) \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas O Feb 4 '11 at 17:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not if the holes are drilled manually. I can get round holes in PDFs from the PCB software I use. \$\endgroup\$ – Leon Heller Feb 4 '11 at 17:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Leon Heller, I suppose so, but if you were doing it manually why wouldn't you just expose the images on the PDF? \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas O Feb 4 '11 at 17:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's what I was suggesting. \$\endgroup\$ – Leon Heller Feb 4 '11 at 18:08

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