Ask Me Anything with IPC-2581

Have a question about IPC-2581? Hemant Shah and key IPC-2581 Consortium members will answer on Feb 7th!

What are the key features and objectives of IPC-2581, and how does it differ from other PCB file formats?

I think it would be interesting to answer how IPC-2581 facilitates collaboration and communication between the different stakeholders, ie. the designers, manufacturers, and assemblers.

I have Rev B on Allegro. Is Rev C coming soon? What new features will it offer?

What are the advantages of using IPC-2581? How does it help with design and/or manufacturing?

I saw you’re doing a webinar on data handoff with 2581. Will you explain how you maintain data integrity and accuracy during the design-to-manufacturing process?

How well is IPC-2581 supported by EDA tools? Is it supported by all tools?

Does Sierra Circuits accept IPC2581 files? How do we send you such files?

Is the IPC-2581 a complete manufacturing file for both PCB manufacturing and PCB assembly?
Are there any additional supporting files required when submitting a design in the IPC-2581 format?
How does it differ from ODB++
How readily is IPC-2581 accepted by the Contract Manufactures? The Chinese CMs we use prefer ODB++. They say they have problematic issues with IPC-2581

What does this output include? Do I still need to to include the IPC-D-351, NC-Drill Files? What about testpoints? Does it also include the stackup?

I am not very familiar with IPC-2581, majority of times I used Gerber RS-274X format for most of the PCB design I was involved with.
My general question is, what con and pro to use IPC-2581 vs. Gerber?

IPC-2581 seems to have solid, multi-vendor support from CAD tools, but I have seen extremely poor uptake from PCB fabricators. I can only think of two fabricators that will let me upload a project in IPC-2581 for an automated quote (Sierra is one of them).

What is being done to coax fabricators to adopt this standard? Does The Consortium need to offer them free CAD format conversion tools until they are weaned off of legacy formats? Do they just need to lose business before they will upgrade?

IPC-2581 Revision C was released in 2020, the software vendors started supporting it in 2021 onwards. Manufacturing vendors then started supporting it based on their customers needs/demands

To read about what’s new in revision C you can read
a) this article by Ed Acheson, who was the technical chair for the IPC-2581 at the time - Design007 Magazine - Design007-Mar2021 (

and / or
b) listen to this interview Sierra Circuits did at PCB West a few years ago - IPC-2581 Revision C for PCB Data Management by Hemant Shah | Sierra Circuits (

I also suggest you start following the consortium LinkedIn page - IPC-2581 Consortium | LinkedIn - to get periodic updates from us

You can also subscribe to our emails, which are very few in the year - 5 to 6 times - where we annnounce our presence at a show or talk about a blog you should be aware of. - go to and subscribe to emails.

IPC-2581 is an intelligent, open format developed by the industry through IPC. It provides function modes to protect IP by providing intelligent subset of the design for fabrication only, assembly only or for stencil creation etc. All of the data that is needed to build your board is included in the file and through function mode you can limit the amount of data shared with your manufacturing partners.

It is the only open bi-directional standard. It provides two ways to exchange data with your manufacturer. First, it allows the designer and manufacturing house to exchange the stack up BEFORE the design is started. This is important for high speed signals on your design. It eliminates manual entry of stack up by teh designer based on data from the manufacturer.

Second, it supports exchange of Design for Manufacturing (DFx) including questions, exceptions and any changes your manufacturer asks for in the design before manufacturing your board. This data is exchanged electronically in 2581 format, so all your approvals can be archived with the design data itself. Plus the DFx exchange is much more smoother and contextual than through emails, powerpoint, excel etc etc

information about IPC2581 adoption and support can be found on

All major EDA tools have been supporting IPC2581 for several years now. Just this year, KiCAD started supporting IPC-2581 revisionB.

IPC2581 Consortium provides a support matrix on that shows all the software that supports IPC2581 - Support | IPC- 2581 Consortium (

Yes, Sierra Circuits does accept IPC-2581. Its easy to generate IPC-2581 from your PCB design tool. You can contact your PCB design tool company to guide you on what you need to do to generate IPC-2581.

IPC-2581 is an intelligent format. Gerber packages include a ton of files and they all must be in sync. Often one or two of the files are not in sync in the package.

Advantages of IPC-2581 are
a) intelligent format - it includes all the data that is needed to fabricate, assemble and test your PCB. In addition you can just send the subset of data that is needed for a specific manufacturing task. For example, you can send just the fabrication data, but not the assembly data.
b) it is bi-directional. Two things can go back and forth. First is stack up data and second is DFx data, eliminating ePaper based communications using Excel, PowerPoints and emails.
c) Secure design data exchange with function modes. THere are several built in function modes and several tools allow users to customize and create their own by choosing what to include and what not to include

IPC-2581 is a complete data set for fabricating and assembling and testing your PCB.
There are no additional files required. The 2581 file with revision C also includes things like intentional shorts, embedded components, complete impedance specifications and much more. You can read about what’s new in revision C in this article - Design007 Magazine - Design007-Mar2021 (

ODB++ is also an intelligent format, but it is a proprietary format. in 2004, ODB++ format was donated to IPC and a merger of IPC’s GENCAM and ODB++ created IPC-2581.

IPC-2581 is adopted by many design houses, CMs, Fabricators and other manufacturing companies. The key has always been a customers requiring/requesting their suppliers to support 2581. If a CM is having trouble using 2581, ask them to reach out to ioc2581 consortium. Consortium members are ready to assist them overcome their issues, Often the issue is lack of information or lack of right connections. Consortium is made up of companies in the entire PCB design and supply chain.

contact the consortium through the contact us page on

IPC2581 is an intelligent design data exchange format. All others are data “hand-off” formats. The data integrity is built in with all the data that is needed being included in the 2581 file. Security is maintained through function modes that allows designers to only send the subset of data that is needed for a particular manufacturing step.

Included below is a slide that shows you the power of function modes.

Everything you need to build the board is included in the file. You don’t need any additional files or data. It includes stackup also. included below is a slide that tells you what all is included