Yes - you can make circuit boards on your 40-watt CO2 laser cutter without etching!

Quick summary (step-by-step / more details in video):
1. Attach .001" steel shim to cast acrylic sheet with mounting tape (leave paper backing on acrylic)
2. Cut out though-holes and board itself at 6.5 mm/s (2 passes)
3. Cut traces at 15 mm/s (2 passes)
4. Peel off non-trace segments from board surface (including tape and paper backing)
5. You have a circuit board!

Fast - can make a simple board in only a few minutes
No chemical etching needed
Boards can be any color acrylic comes in - including transparent!
Laser can be used to cut through-holes / cut the board out in any shape

Steel isn't a great conductor / may be an issue for some circuits
Boards are not as sturdy as etched ones
Traces limited to minimum of around 1/16" wide - not suitable for SMD
Soldering smaller (DIP) components can be a bit finicky

More details at www.nothinglabs.com
This is very similar to the process I used in my <br>https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-MP3-to-Cassette-or-Instrument-to-Cassette-Adap/ <br>I used a piece of clear plastic and copper tape, then drilled holes through it for the wires
<strong>Dear Author (NothingLabs),</strong><br> If steel shim material is not conductive enough for some circuits, it may still be possible to use copper foil tape for traces. [<em>I don't have a laser cutter yet and cannot test this myself</em>.]<br> <br> One commercial CO2 laser company advises the use of a thermal coating to absorb the IR wavelength and mark metal. This might be possible with black Sharpie permenent marker or some sprayed on coating like black wax or paint.<br> <br> Has anyone tried this yet with the copper foil sticky tape which is used by stained glass artists?
Yes - have tried copper tape / foil / leaf. <br><br>It's virtually impossible to cut. Had a little luck spray painting it black - but its too difficult to get through to be practical. <br><br>Copper is both very reflective of infrared and conducts heat very well. Both of these make it hard to cut.
I have a 4&quot; strip of sticky copper tape that I intend to try this with. My idea is to use a vinyl cutter or similar craft cutter to cut the circuit traces. I think with some tweaking of the blade depth it would totally work, I just haven't found anyone with a cutter that is willing to let me try yet.
I know someone who's taken this approach with some good results: <br> <br>http://fab.cba.mit.edu/content/processes/PCB/vinylcut.html
Wow look at that! That is exactly like I envisioned it! It's going to be much easier to convince a local sticker shop to stick copper in their cutter with proof that it will work. <br>Thanks :D

About This Instructable




Bio: Hi, I'm Rich Olson (nothinglabs.com). I sell cloud chambers for viewing radiation, make robots and dev software. If you need something prototyped - I ... More »
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