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Printing A Circuit Board Design

  1. Jan 15, 2009 #1
    Hey guys, I'm trying to make a circuit board for my school project and need to print the pattern. The thing that makes this slightly trickier is that some of the traces are 0.4mm apart. Now either way I need to print over twice, and that's not an issue, I can double layer it easily.

    I'm just wondering, what gives more accuracy on a transparency? A laser printer, or an inkjet printer?
     
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  3. Jan 16, 2009 #2

    berkeman

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    Staff: Mentor

    Do you mean you are just printing the layout layers on paper? Or are you trying to print on FR4 board?

    To make a PCB, you need to chemically etch away the unwanted copper, leaving the desired copper pattern behind. Are you planning on etching the board? I don't think you will be able to etch the board on your own at that kind of resolution. That takes very tight process control, and isn't something you will be able to do in your chem lab without a lot of practice, IMO.
     
  4. Jan 16, 2009 #3
    Also you can make a PCB by drilling and some schools do have drills.
     
  5. Jan 16, 2009 #4

    berkeman

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    Yeah, we used an LPKF milling machine here in our lab for several years -- pretty handy:

    http://www.lpkfusa.com/protomat/index.htm

    There are definitely some tricks to making milled boards too, though. You can do relatively fine pitch, but you have to tune up your pad shapes for soldering -- too easy to get solder bridge shorts otherwise.
     
  6. Jan 16, 2009 #5

    mheslep

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    Google is your friend. Yes the laser is more accurate and laser toner works better than ink. With the common UV exposure board stock 0.4 mm will be no problem.
    http://www.fullnet.com/~tomg/gooteepc.htm
    http://www.turbokeu.com/myprojects/pcb.htm
     
  7. Jan 16, 2009 #6

    berkeman

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    Hmm. That first link is pretty good (I didn't make it to the 2nd one). From that link:

    I must have been a pretty big klutz when I tried making my own PCBs, because I had a lot of trouble getting uniform etching across the PCB. Especially because I had some areas with just sparse traces, and other areas with ground pours.

    Please be careful with the etchant chemicals! From that first website again:

     
  8. Jan 16, 2009 #7
    Today I printed the pattern using my schools laser printer (This is a high school, so no fancy PCB milling machine). The result turned out pretty decent. However between some of the tighter traces there was a bit of toner that almost seemed to overlap. Creating this sort of faint checkerboard between the traces.

    My exposure setup at school is just a big tanning bulb, above the main tray, where the board goes under the pattern which all gets compressed down by a heavy piece of glass.
     
  9. Jan 16, 2009 #8

    mheslep

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    Sounds like you might want to try tweaking the printer driver configuration. Make sure its on the highest possible resolution, no 'quick print' defaults.
     
  10. Jan 16, 2009 #9

    dlgoff

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    Well, you could always print a positive pattern that is double sized then have it reduced 50% on film (negative) at a graphics shop. This should clean up the ragged edges.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2009
  11. Jan 16, 2009 #10
    I have done single sided PC boards with a laser engraver. Black spray paint resists the etchant quite well. Just burn the paint off in the areas you want to etch.
     
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