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4.2.1 • Public • Published

pcb stackup core

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Stack gerber-to-svg layer renders to build PCB renders

If you're looking for an easy way to generate beautiful SVG renders of printed circuit boards, check out the higher-level pcb-stackup tool first.

pcb-stackup-core is the low-level module that powers the rendering of pcb-stackup. It takes individual printed circuit board layer converters as output by gerber-to-svg and identified as PCB layer types by whats-that-gerber and uses them to build SVG renders of what the manufactured PCB will look like from the top and the bottom.

Part of the tracespace collection of PCB visualization tools.


npm install --save pcb-stackup-core
# or 
yarn add pcb-stackup-core

gerber-to-svg and whats-that-gerber are peer dependencies, so you'll want them, too:

npm install --save gerber-to-svg whats-that-gerber
# or 
yarn add gerber-to-svg whats-that-gerber

Or, use a script tag:

<script src="^4.0.0/dist/pcb-stackup-core.min.js"></script>
  // global variable pcbStackupCore now available
  var stackup = pcbStackupCore(layers)


After you clone and set-up the repository as detailed in development setup, you can run pcb-stackup-core's example script to render the top and bottom of an Arduino Uno PCB.

cd tracespace/packages/pcb-stackup-core
yarn example

Arduino Uno design files used here under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license.


This module is designed to work in Node or in the browser with Browserify or Webpack. The function takes two parameters: an array of layer objects and an options object. It returns an object with:

  • top and bottom, each containing an SVG element and render properties
  • Keys for all options, with values resolved to the actual values used
var pcbStackupCore = require('pcb-stackup-core')
var stackup = pcbStackupCore(layersArray)
// stackup =>
// {
//   top: {
//     svg: '<svg...',
//     attributes: {SVG_ATTRIBUTES...},
//     defs: [DEFS_ARRAY...],
//     layer: [LAYER_ARRAY...],
//     viewBox: [X_MIN_X_1000, Y_MIN_X_1000, WIDTH_X_1000, HEIGHT_X_1000],
//     width: WIDTH,
//     height: HEIGHT,
//     units: UNITS
//   },
//   bottom: {
//     ...ditto
//   },
//   id: ACTUAL_ID,
//   color: {...ACTUAL_COLOR_SETTINGS},
// }

In top.svg and bottom.svg are the SVG elements (by default as XML strings). The rest of the properties all correspond to the public properties of a gerber-to-svg converter. units is a string value of 'in' or 'mm'. viewBox is the minimum x value, minimum y value, width, and height in thousandths of (1000x) units. width and height are the width and height in units. defs and layer are arrays of XML elements that are used as children of the defs node and the SVG's main g node.

Astute readers will notice this is the same interface as gerber-to-svg converters, and this means the render and clone static methods of gerber-to-svg will also work on the pcb-stackup-core renders.

layers array

The first parameter to the function is an array of layer objects. A layer object is an object with side, type, and converter keys, where side and type are the layer's properties as reported by whats-that-gerber and converter is the converter object returned by gerber-to-svg for that Gerber file (note: this is the actual return value of gerber-to-svg, not the value that is emitted by the stream or passed to the callback).

It is expected that the converters will have already finished before being passed to pcb-stackup-core. This can be done by listening for the converter's end event or by using gerber-to-svg in callback mode, as shown in the example.

var someLayer = {
  side: LAYER_SIDE,
  type: LAYER_TYPE,

using externally defined layers

In building the stackup, each converter's <defs> contents (converter.defs) are pushed to the <defs> node of each side render. The main <g> contents (converter.layer) are wrapped in a <g>, given an id, and also placed in the defs. The layers are then used in a board render's main <g> via <use>.

If you will be displaying the individual layers in the same page as the board renders, you may want to store these <defs> in a different, shared SVG document. You could do this manually, without the use of pcb-stackup-core, the same way the stackup function does it (as described above), except using the shared SVG document's <defs>.

You can tell the stackup function that a layer is stored externally by giving it a layer with an externalId attribute. This should be set to the id attribute of the layer's external <g>. This will prevent the stackup function from pushing the converters defs to the stackup image defs node.

var sharedLayer = {

Please note that when using the maskWithOutline option as described below, the externalId option of the outline layer will be ignored, as a new <clipPath> element must be constructed to properly apply the outline shape.


The second parameter of the pcb-stackup-core function is an options object. The only required option is the id options. For ease, if no other options are being specified, the id string may be passed as the second parameter directly.

// stackup 1 and 2 are equivalent
var stackup1 = pcbStackupCore(layers, 'my-unique-board-id')
var stackup2 = pcbStackupCore(layers, {id: 'my-unique-board-id'})
key default description
id xid.random() Unique ID, generated by @tracespace/xml-id if omitted
color see below Colors to apply to the board render by layer type
useOutline true Use the board outline layer as a mask for the board shape
createElement see below Function used to create the XML element nodes
attributes {} Map of additional attributes (e.g. class) to apply to the SVG nodes


The board ID is a string that is prefixed to id and class attributes of the internal nodes in the SVG documents. The IDs of any two stackups that may appear on the same web-page must be unique to avoid id collisions and potentially weird styling issues.


The color object allows the user to override the default styling of the stackup. It consists of layer identifiers as the keys and CSS colors as the values. Any to all layers may be overridden. The default color object is:

  fr4: '#666',
  cu: '#ccc',
  cf: '#c93',
  sm: 'rgba(0, 66, 0, 0.75)',
  ss: '#fff',
  sp: '#999',
  out: '#000',

The keys represent the following layers:

layer component
fr4 Substrate
cu Copper
cf Copper (finished)
sm Soldermask
ss Silkscreen
sp Solderpaste
out Board outline

If a value is falsey (e.g. an empty string), the layer will not be added to the style node. This is useful if you want to add styles with an external stylesheet. If applying colors with an external stylesheet, use the following class-names and specify the color attribute:

layer classname example (id = 'my-board')
fr4 id + _fr4 .my-board_fr4 {color: #666;}
cu id + _cu .my-board_cu {color: #ccc;}
cf id + _cf .my-board_cf {color: #c93;}
sm id + _sm .my-board_sm {color: #rgba(0, 66, 0, 0.75);}
ss id + _ss .my-board_ss {color: #fff;}
sp id + _sp .my-board_sp {color: #999;}
out id + _out .my-board_out {color: #000;}

mask board shape with outline

When constructing the stackup, a <mask> of all the drill layers is built and applied to the final image to remove the image wherever there are drill hits. If the useOutline option is passed as true, the stackup function will also create a <clipPath> with the contents of any included outline layers, and use that to remove any part of the image that falls outside of the board outline.

setting result
false Board shape is a rectangle that fits all layers
true (default) Board shape is the shape of the outline layer

To work, the outline layer must be one or more fully-enclosed loops. If it isn't, setting useOutline to true will likely result in the final image being incorrect (or non-existent), because the <path>s won't clip the image properly. See the MDN's documentation of <clipPath> for more details.

To improve your chances of a board outline layer working for useOutline, make sure you set the plotAsOutline option of gerber-to-svg to true when converting the outline gerber. If the board outline still doesn't work, please open an issue to see if we can improve the masking process.

create element

Both gerber-to-svg and pcb-stackup-core take a createElement function as an option. It defaults to xml-element-string, which outputs a string. However, any function that takes a tag name, attributes object, and children array may be used. For example, if you wanted to create an object representation of the render and serialize it to JSON:

var stackup = pcbStackupCore(layers, {createElement: createObjectElement})
var topJson = JSON.stringify(, null, 2)
var bottomJson = JSON.stringify(stackup.bottom.svg, null, 2)
function createObjectElement(tag, attributes, children) {
  return {tag: tag, attributes: attributes, children: children}

If you choose to use this option, the function you pass into pcb-stackup-core must be the same one you passed into gerber-to-svg. Also remember, if your createElement function returns something other than a string or Buffer, options.objectMode must be set to true in gerberToSvg. (See the gerber-to-svg docs for more details.)


If you want to add more attributes to the SVG nodes than are there by default, this is where you do it. For example, to add some classes:

var stackup = pcbStackupCore(layers, {
  attributes: {
    class: 'w-100 h-100',


npm i pcb-stackup-core

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