While services like OSH Park let you upload your Eagle CAD files directly for PCB manufacture, most other services, especially production runs, require the industry-standard Gerber files. Essentially a set of text files for each part of the board (ex: top copper, bottom silkscreen, bottom solder-mask, etc), generating Gerbers in the right format can be a bit tricky.
This tutorial walks you through this process, with a specific example of sending files to Seeed Studio’s excellent PCB service (no financial stake here – just like their service!). However, you could use these directions for most any fab house.
Special thanks to Luca Dentella’s post that helped me figure out this process.
1. (Above) Open your project’s board and go to File > CAM Processor...
2. Once the CAM Processor is open, go to Open > Job...
3. Select your .CAM settings file – most fab houses will have one you can download. Get Seeed Studio’s CAM file here (scroll down towards the bottom – they have a different file for 2- and 4-layer boards).
4. A whole bunch of tabs and settings pop up. Notice the different layers and “output device” (basically like a format for the Gerber file). The files will be named automatically using the name of your project and their appropriate extension (GBO, GTS, etc).
Once you’ve checked everything over, hit Process Job...
5. Your files are ready! But it’s hard to tell if they’re correct. To inspect them, we need a Gerber file viewer. As I’m on a Mac, I’ve had good luck with the free MCN Gerber Viewer. Go to File > Open... and select all your Gerber files.
6. Depending on your CAM settings, everything should look good with the exception of your drill holes. I found that I needed to change the format settings to be 2:4 (instead of the default 3:5 ). I’ve also changed their color to white for easier viewing.
7. Does it look right? If so, we’re ready to order!
8. Zip up all your Gerber files and upload the zipped archive. Seeed Studio has a very nice interface for selecting options, though many auto-detect based on your file.
9. Seeed Studio also offers an online Gerber viewer (the link is on the bottom-right of the order page). You can preview the entire board, and the different layers individually. While it’s best to trust a combination of offline Gerber viewer and the online one, this does give you really nice renderings of your finished board you can download.
Be patient, wait for your order to arrive, and (hopefully) enjoy your new boards!