PCB etching machine from scratch -- VERY VERY VERY easy to build

Picture of PCB etching machine from scratch -- VERY VERY VERY easy to build
This is the easy ways and cheapest way to make your own etching machine for PCB / electronic hobbies, lots of DIY machine I have build for my home made project but I thing this one is the EASYest and the CHEApest way, or even will cost you not even $10 to build if you have the material wasted at your home and you not use it.

now I am going to describe the making process step by step
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Step 1: Stuff material

Picture of stuff material
The material used to build this machine is basicly simple, only a few part crutial for the main item

so ...... lets Make it ....

Material use :

1. Plastic container to hold the unit (pump and etching liquid) -- Please make sure you only using the PLASTIC / RESIN / FIBER GLASS material otherwise if you use the metal thinging will cause you a disaster (since the plastic is corotion proof)

2. Mini DC pump -- this is the main unit to make this machine operated.
Basicly you can use any type of the pump, but again MAKE SURE the material is PLastic, NOT METAL. --- WILL BE EXPLAINED IN THE NEXT STEP



kbyrne4 years ago
When i use feric cloride the traces are dull and pitted. What am i to do to get nice shiney traces. I was doing that with the direct etch method but plan on
photograpic pos method help newbi
jcg kbyrne3 years ago
what is the direct ecth method? I assume drawing the layout on the pcb directly or printer it directly?
My guess is that whatever you using is getting washed away by the feric chloride during the etching. There are a couple of thing you can try, heating up the feric chloride if you don't already do that. This will speed up the etching process give the ink less time to be washed away. Or find other ink to use.
profpat3 years ago
great idea,

as for my etching machine, i build two, one has a rocking motion using gear motor and the other one, almost the same as this one but i used aquarium type aerator pump..
sing maker3 years ago
hi dear
i am a sign maker i need to know how to make sing bored on copper with etching by using bcp way or anther ways to do it .
thank you
and t.c
ob1knowb4 years ago
Guys....guys....why not:

Use thin aquarium tank as the chamber; use 1 of the pumps to circulate the FeCl through the tank (and for that matter through a reheater trough to maintain temperature and stabilize the rate of etch). Also, the aquarium tank would allow you to see more of the result as it happens for either single or double sided boards...a thermocouple on the tank could show a digital readout of the temperature...and the same circuit could have a settable etch timer to countdown and play a sound when the etch is finished. (No standing over it to wait).

And if you really wanted to automate the whole assembly on a slide frame and have an upper safety frame lower and raise the board in and out of the standing near accidental proximity splash hazard.

I'd draw this...but it's essentially been done before...somewhere....anybody remember where? Your idea is cheaper, sure..but what about the result?
delokaver (author)  ob1knowb4 years ago
welcome to all of your though to make an improvement for this.

AQUARIUM tank will be a good idea too, as you are wrote, we can add a such as an aquarium heater to keep the temperature of the liquid warm and this will be slightly improve the process,
as mentioned you dont have to sit and wait in front of this working process, you can just leave it and came back later to see whether the process is done or not,

but you can get a freee for this methode, just do the process under the blazing sun :) and you will got the cheap and cheerfull way :)

as I wrote bellow, will need less than 5 minutes if you have a brand new FeCl combine with warm water, but if you have an old mixing liquid (with regualr / cold water) this can be more than 10 minutes.

back to the original idea, we keep the cost as low as possible and big possibility to use a recycled material that not use in your place, but if you may disobedient this idea than up to you to get your crazy idea and spent more money to build this.

just use a masker if you are prety close with the working liquid , this will guaranty your safety.

Warming ferric chloride up to fuming temperature greatly enhances its etching ability. I am curious as to why you'd want to pump the fluid though? All you need to do is air entrance the bath. Pumping air into the tank is a lot easier than pumping fluids around. Probably works better as well.
Nawaz pfred24 years ago
The moving fluid helps increase the etching rate. Since the fluid is in motion, it will carry the dissolved copper away from the board whereby creating a concentration gradient. I do agree that warming up the acid increases the rate(since i do it too :P). Air is used also, but mainly in case where the board in immersed in the acid vertically. The bubbles of air carry away the dissolved copper, etc..

Horizontal immersion = Moving the fluid is better
Vertical immersion = Air bubbles is better

warming the acid does help make things faster but do this only on well ventilated area because of the fumes evolved
pfred2 Nawaz4 years ago
The only time bubblers aren't used is when high pressure sprayers are. I'm not big time enough to spray. Glad to hear that you are though!
sonogo4 years ago
Thank you for the instructable. But I don't understand what is the use of this machine?
delokaver (author)  sonogo4 years ago
hi dude,
if you are going to make your electronic project from zero, you will understang this machine function.
this machine saving your time and money to develop a pcb and make you more productive

just gogle about pcb making process and you will understand

I get it know. this will help those of us how make the green electronic boards.

because when I saw it the first I said something like holy ............
But know it's clear.

Thanks and keep the god job!
pfred2 sonogo4 years ago
Actually the green on PCBs is the solder mask and this won't help you do that!
delokaver (author)  sonogo4 years ago
yeahhh... you got it mate. ...
mickgoth4 years ago
idea... what about a timer and 2 pumps.. so you would put your board in the tank, hit 1 button, the first pump pumps in your fluid and stops, then after your pre determined time length the pcp should be in the tank the second pump pumps the fluid back into your storage container?

i have a few little pumps laying around i might try to put something together later
delokaver (author)  mickgoth4 years ago
briliant idea ...
but to keep it as simple as possible i did not adding such as other timer / automation circuit to handle how long should it take / operation (MANUALLY), but actually is you positioning the tank a bit sideways, you will see clearly whether the process is done or not, as my attached movie above.

second pump to the storage container is absolutely great idea, so we don't have do this manually, if you have a spare motor pump will be no problem at all.

in my case, if i use the brand new FeCL mixed with warm water, will be take not more than 5 minutes to do the clean copper etch.

just give a try for your though, this will improve this instructable.