HQDFM Gerber Viewer is recently launched browser based tool by HQNextPCB. It helps hardware engineers not only view their PCB Gerber Files easily without any software installation hassles but also do a free DFM analysis on the files to discover if there are any design for manufacture issues which the engineer need to consider before sending the Gerber data to the manufacturer for prototyping.
It incorporates HQDFM’s Design for Manufacture (DFM) algorithms based on NextPCB’s 15 years of high-reliability manufacturing expertise and current industry standards.
Long back I have created a blog on Gerber Viewers, you can read it here
A Gerber viewer is a software application that can be used to view and inspect Gerber files. Gerber files are a standard format for storing PCB design data, and they are used by PCB manufacturers to produce PCBs.
Gerber viewers can be used to view all of the layers of a PCB design, including the copper layers, solder mask layers, and silkscreen layers. They can also be used to measure distances, check for errors, and generate reports.
Here are some of the benefits of using a Gerber viewer:
- Verify PCB design data: Gerber viewers can be used to verify that PCB design data is correct and complete. This can help to prevent errors from occurring during PCB manufacturing.
- Identify potential design problems: Gerber viewers can be used to identify potential design problems, such as overlapping traces or incorrect drill hole sizes. This can help to save time and money during PCB manufacturing.
- Generate manufacturing documentation: Gerber viewers can be used to generate manufacturing documentation, such as drill files and pick-and-place files. This documentation can be sent to PCB manufacturers to ensure that the PCBs are produced correctly.
If you are designing PCBs, it is a good idea to have a Gerber viewer installed on your computer. Gerber viewers are an essential tool for verifying PCB design data and generating manufacturing documentation.
File Format & Browser Support for HQDFM Gerber Viewer
HQDFM Gerber Viewer supports X2 and RS-274x PCB Gerber formats, Excellon drill files and OBD++ files.
It works well with all popular web browsers like Google Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Opera.
Advantage of Browser based tool is there is installation required, anyone can use whether they have Windows, Linux or Mac OS. If any updates will be there in the future, user need not to go through any software update procedures.
How HQDFM Gerber Viewer and DFM Analysis Tool is better?
EDA software’s built-in DRC checks are typically more basic and only check for violations of the design rules that have been defined in the software. This can be helpful for identifying simple errors, but it may not be enough to catch all potential problems.
HQDFM offers a number of advantages over EDA software’s built-in DRC checks, including:
- More comprehensive checks: HQDFM performs a wider range of checks, including checks for design for manufacturability (DFM) and design for reliability (DFR).
- Manufacturer’s perspective: HQDFM is designed to give designers the same perspective on their designs as a PCB manufacturer. This can be helpful for identifying potential problems that may not be caught by EDA software’s built-in DRC checks.
- Valuable insights: HQDFM provides designers with valuable insights into how they can improve their designs. This can help designers to reduce costs, improve manufacturability, and increase the reliability of their products.
Overall, HQDFM is a more powerful and comprehensive design review tool than EDA software’s built-in DRC checks. It is a good option for PCB designers who want to ensure that their designs are manufacturable and reliable.
Features of HQDFM Gerber Viewer
- It checks for over 20 Design for Manufacture issues
- You can navigate your PCB files layer-by-layer
- You will get a Free DFM Report for more detailed analysis and to share with other team members
- It also integrates easy, one-click ordering with HQ NextPCB, if you want to proceed with their PCB manufacturing service.
- HQDFM Gerber Viewer is a free tool, you don’t even need to share your email id to use it.
There are various parameters which this HQDFM Gerber Viewer tool checks
Design for Manufacturability
Whether PCB elements are within the capabilities of most manufacturers in the industry, from low-cost quick-turn services to advanced services:
- Trace width/spacing
- Drill hole/slot sizes
- Clearances to copper and board outline elements
- Special drill holes
- Solder mask openings and more
Design for Cost
Detect production difficulties that may cause costs or lead times to increase:
- Drill hole fees
- Testing fees
- Surface finish fees
- Small trace widths/spacings
- Special drill hole fees
Design for Reliability
Detect problems that may not affect production but impact the normal operation or lifetime of the boards:
- Missing solder mask dams or openings
- Missing/extra pads, drill holes, annular rings
Tested my ESP32 Programmer Files with HQDFM Gerber Viewer
I zipped my esp32 programmer gerber files and uploaded on to HQDFM tool’s page and with in few seconds I was able to see my board.
From the left side panel one can quickly enable disable layer of interest. Very handy tool to quickly check the Gerber files.
No only that It quickly analyzed for DFM and gave a report. It highlights both warnings and ricks so that designer can take action on these points before releasing the Gerber data for production.
I found this tool quite interesting although I would have liked more if they have given the report on browser window itself and with an option when I click on the issue it takes me to the area on the PCB that it would have been very very clear where the problem is on PCB board. I thing the tool developers must be working on the feedbacks they will be receiving from all over the world and in the future we will see much more advanced options.
I remember they had this option in their earlier desktop version so I am guessing they will implement that feature here as well in the future.
If you are excited please give this tool a try.
Try HQDFM Gerber Viewer and DFM Analysis Tool for Free
I hope you found this blog useful.
I am currently working as an embedded systems design consultant and helping companies build custom embedded products, develop test automation solution for their PCB or complete product.
If you have any feedback about the blog, you can share in the comments below or you can also contact me directly.
Read more interesting articles on Embedded Systems Design.