What Is a Gerber (GBR) File?

Some GBR files are Gerber files, but others might be GIMP brushes

What to Know

  • Some GBR files are Gerber files.
  • Open one with GC-Prevue, ViewMate, or Gerbv.
  • Convert to DXF, PDF, DWG, TIFF, SVG, etc., with GerbView.

This article describes three formats that use the GBR file extension, plus how to open and convert each type.

What Is a GBR File?

A file with the .GBR file extension is most likely a Gerber file that stores printed circuit board designs. Most PCB design programs can export data to a Gerber file.

If it's not a Gerber file, yours could be a GIMP brush file used by the GIMP image editing software. This kind of file holds an image that the program uses to paint repeated strokes onto the canvas.

Another use for the GBR file extension is for Game Boy Tileset files that can be incorporated into the standard Game Boy as well as Super Game Boy and Game Boy Color.

GBR files in Windows 10

How to Open GBR Files

You can open Gerber files with a number of programs, most of which are free. These free Gerber viewers include GraphiCode GC-Prevue, PentaLogix ViewMate, and Gerbv. A few of them support printing and viewing the measurements. You could also use Altium Designer to open the Gerber file but it isn't free.

Another way to view GBR files is online. The makers of the format, Ucamco, have the free Reference Gerber Viewer that lets you upload the file online to view it in your browser.

GBR brushes are used with GIMP, which works on Windows, macOS, and Linux.

If your GBR file is in the Game Boy Tileset format, you can open it with Game Boy Tile Designer (GBTD).

How to Convert a GBR File

To convert the file requires you to know what format it's in. This is important so that you know which converter program to use, since the three formats described above have nothing to do with one another. This means you can't convert, say, a GIMP brush file into the Gerber file format; it just doesn't work that way.

When it comes to converting Gerber files, it's very possible that some programs mentioned above are capable of not only opening it but also saving the file to a new file format. If not, GerbView can convert Gerber files to DXF, PDF, DWG, TIFF, SVG, and other file formats.

Online Gerber Viewer might also work for saving the GBR file to the PNG image format. FlatCAM can convert the Gerber file to G-Code. You might give Cenon a try, too, if the other converters aren't working.

To save GIMP GBR files to ABR for use in Adobe Photoshop, you first have to convert it to PNG with a program like XnView. Then, open the PNG file in Photoshop and choose which part of the image should be turned into a brush. Make the brush through the Edit > Define Brush Preset menu.

You can convert Game Boy Tileset files to other file formats with the Game Boy Tile Designer program linked above. It supports saving to Z80, OBJ, C, BIN, and S, through the File > Export to menu item.

Still Can't Open the File?

Double-check the file extension if you can't get your file to open. It's likely that if it doesn't work with any of the programs above, you're misreading the file extension. This is important because even if two file formats share most or even all of the same file extension letters, it doesn't necessarily mean that they are related or can be opened with the same software tools.

For example, GRB files have all three of the same file extension letters, but they're instead GRIB Meteorological Data files stored in the GRIdded Binary format. They have nothing at all to do with any of the GBR file formats mentioned on this page, and therefore can't be viewed or converted with the programs talked about above.

The same is true for Symbian OS Font files that use the GDR file extension. Plenty of other examples could be given, but the idea is to look closely at the file extension letters and make sure they say GBR, else you're probably dealing with something entirely different than what's covered in this article.

More Information on GBR Files

The Gerber format stores binary, 2D images in an ASCII vector format. Not all Gerber files use the GBR file extension; some are GBX, PHO, GER, ART, 001 or 274 files, and there are most likely others, too. You can read more about the format from Ucamco in the Gerber file format specification PDF on that page.

You can make your own GIMP brushes, but several are provided by default, too, when the program is first installed. These default GBR files are usually stored in the program's installation directory, in \share\gimp\(version)\ brushes\.

  • Where do I place GBR files for GIMP?

    If you're importing a file into GIMP to save as a GBR brush file, open the file in GIMP and save the file with the GBR extension. You can also create a new brush in GIMP and save it. In either case, save the file in the Brushes folder of the GIMP directory.

  • What PCB layout program creates GBR files?

    There are several free, open-source PCB software programs you can use to create Gerber (GBR) files. FreePCB for Windows, Osmond PCB for Mac, and DesignSpark PCB for Windows and Linux are a few examples.

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