Introduction: Custom PCB's With a Laser Cutter

Picture of Custom PCB's With a Laser Cutter

Soldorless Breadboards, Breadboards, and Direct wire connections can be good for most applications but if you want something small and complex you need a PCB. Buying PCB's online custom made is not cheap it can up to $100 for three boards! This is a cheap and useful way for you to make PCB's your self.

Step 1: Parts

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  1. Laser Cutter (>900mw) -----> I used this one (it works pretty good and it is cheap)

  2. Ferric Chloride (1 Liter is plenty)
  3. PCB
  4. Cheap BLACK Spray Paint (white will not work)
  5. Plastic or Ceramic Container
  6. Ceramic or Metal Container
  7. Lots of Newspaper
  8. Gloves
  9. Glasses (Laser Cutter and Safety Glasses)

Optional:

  1. Drill Bits

Step 2: Convert Gerber (PCB) Files

Picture of Convert Gerber (PCB) Files

To make the pcb you first will need to convert the Gerber into a picture (or g-code) file. I used Rapid PCB to GCode online to convert the file then I used snipping tool and edited it until i got a white/black image like I have added.

Step 3: Engrave

Picture of Engrave

This part is easy just engrave it. Warning: It may take a few times depending on your engraver (mine took 4 times)

Step 4: Etch

Picture of Etch

Once you are happy with the engraving results you now can etch the board! You can do the standard method with just swishing it around in the ferric chloride but I found it more efficient to use a cotton swab (with ferric cloride) to rub away the copper.

How do you know when it is done? When there is no more reflective-ness from the board or about 20min depending on the size.

Step 5: Remove Paint and Soldor

Picture of Remove Paint and Soldor

Once you remove the paint (paint remover is suggested but not required depending on the paint) you can clean then solder.

Step 6: Done!

Picture of Done!

It works! I hope this help you out. Also stay tuned for another project coming soon to make PCB's with a 3D Printer!

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Comments

gm280 (author)2017-02-02

Unless you have a dual capability LASER Engraver, no LASER Engraver will cut into the copper board by itself. I know because I've tried. It takes a totally different type LASER and the operating frequency. But coating the board with a lacquer based black paint and then engraving it can work. But like you stated, it will have to take a few runs to make sure you get the paint engraved off the board for it to work. I didn't have great success, but will try it again.

tytower (author)2017-02-02

I am missing something here . The board starts as solid copper . You "engrave" a pattern around the outside of the tracks you want left. So why do you need any etching of the board ? The tracks are done arn't they?

Funguypro (author)tytower2017-02-02

No I just etcheched the paint away. All the copper is still there. At least my Lazer engraver was not powerful enough to engrave the copper. So I still needed to watch the copper. Hope that's understandable.

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