Easy way to make PCBs

#3
It is a good. chemical free technique. But, making pcbs from copper foil has been around a long time. You can buy thin copper tape and layout the pcbs.

Using a Roland plotter with a cutting head is nothing new either. For hobbyists, the cost of a plotter/vinyl cuitter, starting around $300US, is tough on the wallet. Swivel cutter heads are also expensive.

Now, when the Cricut machine, a vinyl cutting machine for scrapbookers ($129), finally includes a useable interface to the real world, it will be a greqt hobbyists machine. Currently the Cricut has an USB port, but it for "diagnostics" only. Not surprising, since the Cricut is a modified printer, and they make their money on the $50US cartidges.

Like any other pcb making tchniques, their is a learning curve and limitiations.
 
#4
Couldn't you use an old HP flatbed plotter for this? I remember an article on Make's website about using old plotters as vinyl cutters?
 
#5
Fletch - I'm a pretty avid reader of Make and don't remember seeing it on the Make: Blog... any chance you can find the link that you are referring to? Sounds very interesting!!!!
 
#6
Fletch - I'm a pretty avid reader of Make and don't remember seeing it on the Make: Blog... any chance you can find the link that you are referring to? Sounds very interesting!!!!
I am away from the machine that I bookmarked it on, I will post it tomorrow. The crux of the project was that you can buy a machined swivel blade adapter that fits in place of a plotter pen for about $70 US on ebay, and using that and a suitable plotter (the one the guy used was free IIRC) you can cut vinyl.

My idea was to use vinyl to make masks for screen printing, since this would allow you to design your own fabrics and decals for SciFi costuming.
 
#7
Luberth has an excellent website for converting a TI plotter to a vinyl cutter:

http://www.luberth.com/help/pen_plotter_vinyl_cutter_swivel_knive_drag.html

For this conversion, you will need pcb sotware that provides HPGL format to drive the plotter. HPGL (HP Graphic Language)consists of the intructions to the plotter on how to move the pen/cutter.

Yes, it can be done, but plan on spending some time fine tuning it.

TANSTAAFL

Myc
 
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#10
Steve, the toner transfer method need the PCB to be further developed with an acid. Not very safe for young students.
Of course the vinyl cutting machine can be used for very simple and fast circuits. It does give a very nice output though.
 
#11
I would be interested in knowing where you get the copper film from. I have a plotter in a box in my garage that I had been thinking of using for drawing resist straight on to plain copper boards. This method might be even easier.
 
#13
I've been doing a lot of googling and can't find other sources than the one listed on TechSoft (http://www.techsoftuk.co.uk/materials_tools_knifecutting_materials.htm#foil)

It seems like such a good idea, but by the time you buy the foil (10.95), plus the Stika (265) plus the PCB Design and Make (195), your close to 500! Seems like you could make a lot of PCB's using a Eagle (free) and the toner transfer method. Kind of a shame actually, looks like a much cleaner, neater, safer, simpler, method.
 
#14
There are tools for converting the output from Eagle to HPGL to drive a plotter directly -- that was where the idea of using a resist pen to plot directly to copper boards came from. In theory a modified version of that driver could cut foil. That would allow you to use free tools.

EDIT

A few minutes noodling on the internet and I found someone that uses a HPGL based engraver to do the same thing. The way they convert the files (essentially drawing the outline of tracks rather than the tracks themselves) is what you would need. The workflow for Eagle is here

http://www.cs.uml.edu/~fredm/courses/91.548-spr03/pcb/

and here

http://www.luberth.com/cstep/PCBtest.htm

and here

http://www.conestogac.on.ca/eet/courses/fabrication/index.html
 
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