Thank you so much for the explanation, I understand what you are saying. I'm a process engineer at a contract manufacturing company and I don't have a 3D workstation where I can edit a step file. We got the step file from a customer who didn't send gerber files. So we need to quote this assembly and I need gerber files that we can send to a PCB shop to have the bare PCB quoted. So is there any other way I can use the step file that I sent to convert it to PCB gerbers?
Yes. ACE will generate many unnecessary layers because of the components, however it will still have a layer with the board outline and drilled holes. You can export that specific Gerber layer to get exactly what you require for bare board quoting (outline and drill holes). Here's a quick tutorial (no sound) of me using ACE, selecting a layer that has board outline and then generate Drill using ACE:
Note: The sample STEP file itself does not contain any part information other than the Reference designator for each component.
Our product FAB 3000 is more suited for PCB specific features and can import the STEP (similar to ACE) plus retain more information.
"I have tried using the software to convert a 3D STEP file into gerber files, I can get it to convert, but the gerber files aren't at all what I was expecting. I'm sure that it has something to do with the operator (me), I'm probably not doing something right. The PCB isn't anything complicated, just LED's and a connector. I watched the video and followed the steps, but I think there is some detail left out in the video that I should be doing."
Thanks for your question.
Gerber is a 2D file format used for the fabrication of the Printed Circuit board only (no assembly like components). Your sample STEP file includes a blank PCB outline (which is good), drilled holes (which is good), but also contains the components (bad for Gerber conversions). Thus when ACE is attempting to generate 2D Gerber files, it has to create multiple unnecessary layers for the components.
Simply remove the components from the STEP and the conversion will be as expected. For your reference, here's a sample PCB design in STEP that can easily be converted to Gerber (i.e board outline, Drilled holes, and electronic circuits for top and bottom).
Thanks again, and please let me know if that helps.