Following the previous post in which we explained what is a list of materials and how to export this file from the main PCB design software was described, in this post we continue explaining other file required when you want to assembly your PCBs in pick and place machines that is the CPL file.
CPL is the acronym of Component Placement List. It is possible to export it from any printed circuit board design software and contains the exact position in coordinates of each component of the bill of materials related with the layout of the PCB. Depending on the software not always is called as CPL file. In some software is named Parts list, Centroid file, XY file, Position file, Pick and Place file or Placement report. The format of the file is typically an excel file (.csv or .xls) but it is possible to find it as text file (.txt) in which a table with parameters is shown.
Main parameters of CPL files are:
Below some description of how to export the CPL from the main PCBs design software in the market is shown. In some of them the process is very easy to follow and find, since it is integrated in the software while in others it is more complex and tedious since you will have to use scripts.
In Altium Designer it is very easy to export CPL files. You have two options to go to the dialog that will allow you to export the file.
Once you have opened the dialog, you can select the information you want to add (additionally to the mandatory one), exclude parts that cannot be required by the pick and place machine and the format in which you want to export the file, csv or text. You will also have to select if the placement origin of each component if it is the center of the component, the coordinates of pad 1 or a user-defined reference point.
Eagle allows you to create the CPL files by using Eagle’s user language programs (ULPs). For this task, the ULP you will have to run is mountsmdl.ulp after selecting the file with the PCB you want to export from the Menu tab. The software will create two different files the .mnt (mount top) and .mnb (mount reverse) for the top and bottom layer respectively. The file will be exported in text format.
Kicad allows the user to create a .pos file with the positions of each component that is defined in the BoM file generated previously by the software. You have to go to PCBNew and there click on File » Fabrication Outputs » Footprint Position (.pos) File. Different files will be generated depending on the sides of the PCB, one if you only have a bottom side or two if you have top and bottom layers. The .pos file can be open with Excel and saved as .csv in order to send it to the company that will mount your PCB in a format that can be easily read for them.
To generate the components placement list in Mentor Graphics, you will have to go to PADS layout and use a VB script to export it. There are different variations of this script that will allow you to slightly change the information is provided by the exported file.
The procedure for creating a CPL file for Orcad is very easy in comparison with other PCB design software previously described. There are two ways to create it. The file will be exported in text format.
In DripTrace you will be able to export your CPL file from the layout and selecting Export » Pick and Place format. You will have to select what will be the placement origin of each component between center of the component or origin of it.