KiCad v8 exports IPC2581 – Q&A with Seth Hillebrand, key developer for KiCad

April 1, 2024

Version 8 of KiCad supports IPC-2581, we asked Seth Hillebrand, one of the lead developers for KiCad a few questions. See his answers below to each question.

KiCad, a cross platform design suite, is an open source software suite for Electronic Design Automation (EDA). The programs handle Schematic Capture, and PCB Layout with 3D viewer that outputs IPC-2581 and Gerber package. The suite runs on Windows, Linux and macOS and is licensed under GNU GPL v3. Learn more at

• What differentiates KiCAD to your customers in the industry?

KiCad is often the first EDA tool that beginning engineers are exposed to. As an open-source project, our mission is to provide the highest quality circuit design software package to the greatest number of people around the world. We see ourselves as partners with many other systems in that we work actively to expand the number of electrical engineers, layout designers and electronic technicians out there, regardless of their individual circumstances. The PCB Design market will be better served tomorrow by having more talent today and KiCad helps to grow that talent pool.

• What profile of companies and individuals do KiCad appeal to, and how do you see this developing?

KiCad is often the first choice of individual designers when imagining a new project. We have a broad penetration of the maker market and startup hardware companies. We appeal to many companies that are looking for a broad talent pool in their hiring as many entry-level engineers have familiarity with KiCad. Similarly, we see a lot of government users who require full accountability of their software chains. KiCad offers them a level of transparency unmatched in the industry.

In the future, KiCad will continue to develop in usability and base-level feature sets to broaden the societal penetration of the idea that you can control, repair and change the machines in your environment to better suit your life.

• What triggered KiCad to support IPC-2581 output?

KiCad has always looked to the future when planning feature development. IPC-2581 offers some of our customers a feature that makes their lives easier. We want to encourage this sort of uptake of open standards. By creating an open-source implementation of the standard generator, KiCad will hopefully spur more companies to put in the effort to support open standards.

• How does IPC-2581 enhance customers’ design data flows?

At the moment, IPC-2581 offers a cleaner method of sharing BOM+netlist+layout design with turnkey manufacturers. While the information is available in other formats, by combining these data into a single source, IPC2581 reduces the likelihood for errors in process.

• What benefits of using IPC-2581 are envisioned for designers and manufacturers?

When compared to other modern CAD data sharing systems, 2581 has the potential to make the communication between designer and manufacturer more seamless.

• When is version 8 of KiCAD, with IPC-2581 support, scheduled to be released?

KiCad version 8 was released in February 2024. To learn what’s new in this version 8, click here –