So we’ve designed a circuit board within KiCad, now we want it submitted and have it made through the Digi-Key DKRed custom printed circuit board service.
Let’s go through a few simple steps to output the design files, in this case, what we call ‘Gerber’ and Drill files from within KiCad.
Within KiCad PCB Editor, to start generating design files, hit File > Plot
Make sure these file types/layers are selected, the drill files get generated by a second step:
Use the below following recommended settings, make sure to Unselect the Generate Gerber job file button ( plot footprint values and reference designators is optional ) and hit the Plot button to generate the files to your designated output directory folder.
Now generate the drill files by hitting the Generate Drill Files… button.
Use the following drill file settings when prompted and then hit the Generate Drill File button.
You should see these file types in your output directory:
Before one gets to the point of generating design (Gerber) files, a helpful tip for quality checking the work prior to sending files off to get manufactured, two tools within KiCad can help give a sanity check. One is the 3D Viewer, which can show you at a glance if your Edge_Cut (board outline) layer is ‘manifold’ meaning the lines outlining the layer all touch, that there are no gaps in the outline.
If there is a problem with the Edge_Cuts layer an error code will come up within the 3D Viewer, or if you have a complex board outline shape this will show you if the shape matches what you think it should look like.
Also helpful for checking your work is the freely included Gerber Viewer program within KiCad that can be used to carefully go over the board layers to find mistakes that might not have been caught in the design process.