Transfer existing PCB layouts to Gerber files?

Thread Starter


Joined Jan 18, 2022
Hey All,

I've been making PCB's for years;
In my early years I worked for an electronics manufacturer, I had access to some Kepro equipment where you dipped the board in emulsion and dryed it,
then UV developed from a negative image, then etched in a heated spray tank of FC, and then drilled...
Later on we went to screening printing the etch resist, which saved a few steps in the process.

In my later years, I just do hobby stuff, and use a toner transfer process with good enough results for one-offs.

But I'm now planning a project that will require a number of the same PCB and started looking at different options.

I first thought of trying one of those cheap mini CNC machines, but it seems a lot of folks here poo-poo that for various reasons.

So I started looking for cheap PCB makers, and was surprised at how low the price is (some places).

In the early days of course, we did our PCB layouts by hand, sketch the design on graph paper, then overlay with a sheet of mylar,
then put down the design with layout tape and pad donuts (I know, the young-uns are saying WTF?)..

As computers evolved, I got into CAD drawing, and the layout process was simplified, but ultimately the design is just printed out
for either the photographic process or the toner transfer process.

Now, if I want to have my boards made somewhere, I need to provide Gerber files, which gets me to the gist of this long-winded post..

Some of the PCB manufacturers provide free layout software to use when buying from them...

But my question is; does anyone know of a (free) generic layout software where perhaps you can import a DXF of the layout (then define stuff),
or do I have to start from scratch, and lose the hours of CAD work I've already done?

Thanks for any opinions that follow..