Documenting/Printout of CNC and/or Gerber Files

Just curious what others may do about documenting data files used for manufacturing. Things like CNC files to run a punch press, Gerbers for creating a bare PCB, etc…

We have good (but not great) control of the actual data files. But we have some internal differences of opinion on whether or not a drawing should exist. For mechanical parts we’d have fully dimensioned drawings that if you had to, you could recreate the CNC file from the drawing alone.

But for PCB’s, the output of PCB layout CAD is several files containing the G-codes for making each layer, and a few support files (like a list of tool sizes used, pick and place data, etc…).

Typically we provide our board house a ZIP file that will contain everything they need to manufacture the board:

  • Gerber files to make the bare board
  • BOM for what parts to populate the board with
  • Pick and place data that tells where each part should be placed
  • A drawing of the assembled board showing details like:
    • Orientation of ambiguous parts
    • Special notes like hand soldered parts, solder type to use, packaging etc…
  • A test procedure (for boards requiring testing by the board house)

Specifics of the bare board (material, thickness, # of layers, processes used, etc…) are contained in the Gerbers.

My question is, do you have a controlled document that is the output of a viewer (either the one in the original CAD, or an external one)?

You wouldn’t make a CAD file of a mechanical part and then just release the file, without creating a printout (or at least a PDF, or some other image).