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Why the IPC 2581 Standard is Important for PCB Designers

For some years, printed circuit boards were designed on computers and data for PCB manufacturing. Over time, there was a change in the formats of this data used for laying down instructions for the photoplotters. Also, as the printed circuit board industry saw great innovations, IPC 2581 standard had to take the place for the Gerber and extended Gerber formats.

As of today, IPC 2581 is known as the PCB manufacturing standard. It has surpassed its competitor due to its neutral and open nature. Though Gerber is good, it may have to retire.

What Does IPC 2581 Mean?

IPC 258 can be described as a standard, which specifies the format for the organization, as well as the exportation of PCB designs from the CAD to the CAM systems to achieve e assembly as well as fabrication. Furthermore, a group of manufacturers back the use of IPC 2581. Moreover, my developers and manufacturers still haven’t accepted it. The truth is IPC 2581 can consolidate all the PCB design areas.

This standard is neutral and open. Its transfer and data methodology ensures that the data exchange between the CAD and CAM is smoother without requiring human intervention. Furthermore, the standard helps in incorporating the single XML based files, which integrate a great set of data for board manufacturing.

The PCB world’s technological drawbacks reveal the challenge whenever companies own their personal standards for the transmission of data. Furthermore, these companies help in defining these standards. The ODB++ is owned by a provider of PCB layouts, while extended Gerber is owned by a manufacturer of photoplotter.

It was necessary to move the newly-created parameters from a development tool into the CAM software or automated placement machines. These standard administrators failed to meet the industry’s desires to extend its standards to the new technologies. This is why many companies usually come together so as to create neutral and open standards for PCB development. The standard will meet several requirements.

It is a standardization and global trade organization, which handles the issues relating to electronics manufacturing. Furthermore, IPC’s activities include defining the standards and criteria of the industry for the evaluation of goods produced in our electronics industry.

Several companies based in the United States and Asia have been able to convert the standard and also transferred the data into this format.

What Does IPC 2581 Consortium Entail?


IPC 2581 consortium deals with different supply chain and PCB design companies. The consortium’s overall goal is the permit, promote, as well as drive the use of IPC 2581 in the industry. Furthermore, the IPC 2581 consortium seeks to ensure IPC 2581 integrations as a neutral and open standard. This will reduce costs, increase efficiency, and promote innovation.

Also, IPC 2581 standards help in the facilitation of PCB assembly and manufacturing. It allows the download of the design data without having to interpret it into the CAM systems. Therefore, this helps in saving both time and labor in contrast to Gerber projects. In addition, this IPC 2581 consortium is made up of more than 100 members. These also include participating companies coming from different assembly, CAM, and PCB manufacturing.

These companies have one goal; which is for IPC 2581 to be a standard for data exchange in industries such as automotive, telecom, and aerospace.

Why Choose the IPC 2581 Standard?

This graphical foundation can be described among the best benefits of Gerber file format. The basis functioned properly for the PCB designers making use of software. Moreover, when you are combining different image formats, there could be some error. This could further result in different design modification cycles before accurate quotes are generated.

Today, most contract manufacturers offer their preferred option of CAD file formats. This IPC 2581 that integrates the ODB++ is utilized throughout the industry. This standard was designed specially by the consortium that comprises several organizations inside the industry. The group comprises both contract manufacturers and developers and their goal is creating free circuit board design file formats which assist  in increasing PCB manufacturing as well as reduced costs of development.

In addition, it enhances innovation. No company defines and maintains this standard. A consortium or group of over 100 companies help in maintaining the standard. This makes it an open standard and its requirements can easily adapt to the new technologies. In addition, it has no commercial advantages or licensing rights.

With this standard, you can easily output the projects from the CAD tools and therefore prevent putting things on hold as a result of data uncertainty. This also ensures that prototypes get to customers in a timely manner.

Layer Stack Up Making Use of IPC 2581

When PCBs become technically demanding, specifying the layer structure becomes necessary. This is why developers have to request the layer structure from their circuit board manufacturer. Furthermore, to ensure PCBs that are impedance controlled, manufacturers have to adapt the material.

Already, the IPC 2581 file defines the layer stackup whenever the designers read the fine in OrCAD or Allegro. In addition, routing of the separate layers may be stimulated with the 50 Ohm-layer structure. This is to make sure of signal integrity.

What are the Benefits of the IPC 2581 Standard?

IPC 2581 standards can be included among the acceptable codes utilized in the world of electronics. This is why it provides these advantages.

CAM convenience and PCB design

The IPC 258 file comes with virtually everything needed. In addition, the standard is made up of the needed details for manufacturing PCB, assembly, and testing. In addition, this format doesn’t need drill files whenever there are buried/blind vias and pick-and-place coordinates in the features of a PCB design.

Reduces miscommunication risks

With the IPC 2581, engineers are provided with a very improved method for importing the PCB designs. Furthermore, engineers from manufacturing usually import PCB designs like netlist and pick-and-place coordinates. Therefore, it reduces risk of miscommunication.

Data security

Gerber files cannot help in re-engineering the design of the PCB. This is so because IPC 2581 is composed of smart data and this is why you might be worried about a possible data breach. Using IPC 2581 format, customers can send stack-up data to the circuit board manufacturers.


This IPC 2581 standard has been able to create a full supply chain and has more members. In addition, the supply chain is made up of PCB assembly, EDA software, as well as solutions for electronic designs.

Less economic risks

IPC 2581 standard helps to reduce economic risks. With the smaller files for circuit board assembly, testing, as well as drilling, you won’t experience any loss whenever you are updating the circuit. In addition, there is no need to be concerned about the DFM/CAM carelessness and lead to economic losses.

Ways in Which the IPC 2581 Impacts Industry 4.0


IPC 2581 has become the main focus. An IPC 2581 consortium member revealed that achieving industry 4.0 will be impossible unless you have devised a method that you can receive data from the design through manufacturing without any mistakes.

Usually, this manufacturing data is included inside the file. Now, there are different elements which different machines demand for. In addition, this standard permits the development of the digital product models inside a file. Also, manufacturers may choose their configuration lines and then develop the necessary data for the machines.

Before this development, there will be different drawings, files, etc. Furthermore, the IPC 2581 specifications help in integrating the product model in the digital manufacturing engineering and allows the selection of the configuration daily or hourly. Therefore, it takes a few minutes for the digital product data to be transformed into the SMT line.

Exporting the IPC-2581 Files

The exchange format of the IPC 2581 includes all the data for PCB manufacturing into a file. Interpreting this file is easy and is comprehensive as well. Also, the file doesn’t have any human errors.

Exporting the IPC 2581 file from Altium Designer

You have finished your PCB design as well as evaluated your design rule. Now, these are the steps to follow if you want to export the IPC 2581 files

  • Select file-fabrication outputs-IPC 2581
  • If this is the first time you are exporting a file, you might see a pop-up box indicating the destination of the file output. In addition, the pop-up box allows users to select the folder where the file can be saved. Moreover you can choose your default location
  • You can find just some options in the configuration settings of the pop-up. You will need to verify the version B or A of IPC 2581 altium as well as the units and decimal points. To create your output file, you should select B and then click OK.


Among the PCB designers, the IPC 2581 is much preferred. In addition, this IPC 2581 format provides more benefits compared to gerber file formats.. Even when these benefits are obvious, there is a slow transition to the standard. Regardless, there are advanced developers of PCB software like Kicad ipc 2581 that integrate the two formats. This allows you to make the best choice for all your designs.

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