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After a chance reading of an article in the
Electronics Weekly magazine on 22nd October 2014 of a 3D Gerber viewer, I decided to investigate further, as being a CAD/CAM centred design engineer,
discovering a new approach to visualising data is always welcome.
At what was then, an early stage of development, it was well advanced enough to be useable, not just as a viewer
but also in my case to generate real world graphics files, I need as an intermediate stage between E-CAD and M-CAD.
ZofzPCB, as the 3D Gerber viewer is known by, is the first free to use software package I have come accross that can
render a PCB in real world graphics, that the colours are true to life, and I do/have used a few in my 40 years as a PCB designer.
Having a "real" looking PCB before it is manufactured, means I can render an image in its indended enclosure and send
model files to customers for them to include in there installation CAD files.
Of course a PCB looks better with components fitted, which is the current stage of development of ZofzPCB.
As a Beta tester I have sent the author component models I have created and use along with links to libraries available on the web.
But this is not where it ends. There are plans to create files in the native M-CAD format of the "Pro" packages,
which will be quite a time saver for me.
Being a Beta tester does have its benefits. Giving feedback does get features added that real world designers would use,
that a software designer does not have experiance of, so I am happy to come along for the ride, as the software
is not only currently useful, but going in the right direction to be the link that is currently missing between the vast number of PCB,
and the numerous M-CAD packages.
Rating: 5 out of 5
ZofzPCB 3D Gerber viewing software is a great tool for viewing a realistic virtual image of a completed printed wiring board (PWB).
I have been using it to review designs for over a year and it has helped me find design errors or manufacturing problems before ever fabricating a board.
The ability to view layer by layer has allowed me to see design details with ease that I’d previously struggled to see, or missed entirely,
in typical “top down” viewers. Exploding (spread function) the layers with void/prepreg layers set to “transparent”
gives an unprecedented view into the inner stackup of a board. Selecting a discrete net found in the IPC-356 file makes trouble-shooting
a visual process, not just the domain of lab techs with cumbersome diagnostic equipment. This tool makes the construction of a
PWB understandable by early career engineers, managers, customers and experienced technologists in a way never before available.
It has saved me countless hours and I advise all my colleagues to use this tool.
Rating: 5 out of 5
It is the best real 3D Gerber Viewer tool I've ever used.
The functionalities and the visualization offer an instant vision of the errors in the PCB,
making it essential during the own projects check, partial or definitive, directly from the CAE output.
It simplifies the control of other's projects.
Impressive when used in a PCB presentation.
A must have PCB tool for any PCB designer
Rating: 5 out of 5
While evaluating Gerber files viewers the search yielded innovative 3D viewer featured on zofzpcb.com.
I used my test file to view it to get fair comparison to other choices. I was able to see so much more
than a typical (even 3D) viewer lets you, than I decided to supplement my CAD tool set with this software.
I was able to visualize what I could only envision in my head,
see features one normally tends to ignore and spot some areas I improved before sending set of Gerbers off to the PCB manufacturer.
Rating: 5 out of 5
The best thing about the ZofzPCB 3D Gerber viewing software is that it has a fairly simple and very intuitive easy to learn modern GUI design. It is a brilliant tool for viewing both a realistic PCB renders of your
Gerber files, but also to review and inspect a realistic representation of the finished PCB.
You can use it to easily find design errors and manufacturing problems way before they become wasted PCB fabrications.
Even much more expensive tools let alone other free tools are nowhere near as useful and intuitive nor anywhere near as much FUN to use.
I always thoroughly enjoy using this tool for over 6 years or so now as a part of my PCB design and manufacturing process and highly recommend using it.
Hang while flattening
I'm using an old version of orcad, and doing complicated fills. Attached is top copper of a file which crashes the flattening algorithm. Note that this board was built, so we at least know it can be rendered...
The actual PCB has plated slots and plated edges, which I would like to try to render eventually too.
I fully support your vision of what is needed to take the next step in CAM. There is no reason it has to be this hard. I have reluctantly accepted that it costs $2k to process a board for automated manufacturing,
and another $2K for just to setup the machines each time. One of these days it will get cheaper, but basically there's nobody pushing it forward. The issue really also includes the absolute mess which is component specification, and the explosion of footprints and footprint types, lack of standardized component files, and a whole host of other issues. Anyone who has used a CAD package which tries to have a 1:1 component to footprint system probably has even less respect for that than I do, with the old way.