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PCB etching question? Answered

I wanted to start making PCBs. However, I read that because the chemicals dissolve the copper, you can't dump it down the sink or throw it away because it is "hazardous" and should be taken to hazardous waste disposal. I'm still in high school and can't really do that and/or my parents would think I'm doing something dangerous. Is there any other way to etch PCBs besides using chemicals, like a knife or something?



I just read of a method to etch boards with household chemicals (vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and salt).
The by-product is probably toxic, according to the person on the site, but it *might* be easier to dispose of..

You could store the waste until you're able to dispose of it (years later...)


One method used by engineers in the past for quicky test circuits is to use a pair of exacto blades glued together with a thin spacer between them. The circuit is hand "drawn" using the blades and the material between the two cut-lines is removed by peeling.

There are milling machines designed specifically to produce small numbers of PCBs by using very small end mills to grind the copper away from the substrate as well. I used one by a company down in Atlanta, but it was a pretty expensive machine (~$10K).

There are plans here at instructables for homemade milling machines that can do the job as well.

Yes, it's possible to mechanically remove the copper cladding to make a PCB. It's a heck of a lot of work, though -- probably grinding tool rather than knife, and if you slip you can ruin e everything you've done up to that point. More work than I'd want to attempt!

You could do point-to-point wiring on perfboard... solder or wire-wrap still work Just Fine.