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Author Topic: Desktop PCB production  (Read 2025 times)
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Back to your original question - how about a mechanical system that could apply copper tape to a board, with little spots of solder paste at X/Y junctions? When all done run it thru a re-flow oven to join the junctions.

Looks like width would be an issue - I seee plenty of places with 10 mil thick, but not 10 mil wide.

Perhaps some kind of sintered metal that could then be baked/cured, similar to conductive ink, but in a more solid form.

Or! cover a board with a meltable powder, use laser to melt the traces into place, and then gather up the excess for the next application.

Do you have a link to this Shapelock stuff?
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Back to your original question - how about a mechanical system that could apply copper tape to a board, with little spots of solder paste at X/Y junctions? When all done run it thru a re-flow oven to join the junctions.

Actually, I have manually used such a construction method in the past. Using the copper tape and kapton tape, I have made simple flexible circuits.


Looks like width would be an issue - I seee plenty of places with 10 mil thick, but not 10 mil wide.

Indeed. I got around this somewhat by cutting the tape with a hobby knife into thinner strips. Very time consuming. But the circuits were very simple.


Perhaps some kind of sintered metal that could then be baked/cured, similar to conductive ink, but in a more solid form.

Or! cover a board with a meltable powder, use laser to melt the traces into place, and then gather up the excess for the next application.

I believe the second idea is the same. Isn't that what sintering is? Or am I mistaken? That definitely does sound like the best approach since a laser could provide very fine detail.


Do you have a link to this Shapelock stuff?

It is called shapelock, polymorph, or friendly plastic. Polymorph seems to be the cheapest variety, though it is not so easy to get in the U.S. and getting it shipped from the UK makes it more expensive than shapelock.

http://www.instamorph.com/
https://www.inventables.com/technologies/hand-moldable-plastic
http://www.jameco.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/StoreCatalogDrillDownView?langId=-1&storeId=10001&catalogId=10001&freeText=shapelock&search_type=jamecoall
http://www.kelvin.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=570071

This one is the best offer I have seen. 1Kg for $22 is an awesome price for the stuff:
http://letsmakerobots.com/node/11563

And of course the original site:
http://shapelock.com/page2.html
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Those pieces that I posted pictures of only used about a tablespoon of the stuff and could certainly be made even thinner and better shaped which would use less material. This stuff is extremely strong once it hardens. It is about the strength of an acetal/delrin cutting board.
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Here's a neat guide on the stuff:
http://www.c-d-c-shop.com/Products/Polymorph/Polymorph.pdf

And this is what the stuff *really* is (Polycaprolactone):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shapelock
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Cool. Thanks for the data.


Reading the wikipedia page, I found myself thinking "It's a floor wax! It's a dessert topping!"

Some things are confusing - "PCL is degraded by hydrolysis of its ester linkages in physiological conditions (such as in the human body) and has therefore received a great deal of attention for use as an implantable biomaterial."

Wouldn't degraded in the human body make it a poor choice for a long term implantable device?

What "cures" (for lack of a better word) the stuff into hardened material? Just application of heat, then it melts to shape and stays that way?
« Last Edit: April 04, 2013, 09:03:10 am by CrossRoads » Logged

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Sintering would require pressure and temperature.  You'd probably want to look more at some kind of paste as opposed to a powder.
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Sintering, yeah, just showing my lack of knowledge in that area.

How about low vacuum pressure vaporization? Use laser to pretreat the areas to be coated, then put the board in a little oven for the treated areas to attract the vaporized metal (like Aluminum)?  Might take a few passes for the metal to build up enough thickness to be durable for reflow soldering to attach parts.
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Due to another post, I just realized that I have one of these sitting in storage:
http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Kodak+PP300&qpvt=Kodak+PP300&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=EBB3C9459BDD0DF039ACAEABDBCF5A9B9235C012&selectedIndex=13

It is a kodak dye sublimation (thermal) printer meant to print 4x6 to 5x7 photos. I bought it dirt cheap on ebay several years ago and used it alot for a while then stored it away and forgot about it.

Hmm... I wonder how easy it would be to modify this to print a resist directly to the board. Of course, it would still require etching, and I don't know if the wax would hold up to etchant. I smell an experiment coming...

One consideration is that the ribbons that I have apply a clear wax coating after the print to seal the image. I will have to find a way to bypass that or it would cover the entire board at the end.
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Maybe use the salt, hydrogen peroxide, and (vinegar? alchohol? this mix was just posted in the last couple of days) as etchant.
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Sintering, yeah, just showing my lack of knowledge in that area.

How about low vacuum pressure vaporization? Use laser to pretreat the areas to be coated, then put the board in a little oven for the treated areas to attract the vaporized metal (like Aluminum)?  Might take a few passes for the metal to build up enough thickness to be durable for reflow soldering to attach parts.

I was just looking at UV curable inks to use as a carrier for some type of metal powder. Seems like it would create a lot of waste. What ideas do you have for the "pretreat" part? If the material is nonconductive, it may be possible to use static just like a laser printer and some type of metalized toner.

Maybe even something along the lines of an etch-a-sketch which would use a magnet beneath the material to hold the conductive powder. Again, the difficulty is finding something with a melting temperature above soldering and finding something capable of providing that amount of heat in a localized manner.

I really appreciate the ideas and input!
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Maybe use the salt, hydrogen peroxide, and (vinegar? alchohol? this mix was just posted in the last couple of days) as etchant.

I seen that the other day. Definitely something I would like to experiment with.
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If you wanted to go the electroplating route you could first use conductive paint to mark out your traces, then use electroplating to make those traces thicker.
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Pretreat, I don't know. Not sure what you could do to a piece of fiberglass to make something else want to stick to it.
Static electricity, conductive paint, seems like everything turns into a multi-pass process.
Maybe just burning off the clearences around traces with a laser is the way to go.
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Here is a nice step by step guide, with videos of how one company does PCB manufacturing.  They use photo-resist, and electroplating.  Might give you some ideas.
http://www.eurocircuits.com/index.php/making-a-pcb-eductional-movies/35-front-end-tool-data-preparation-
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Pretreat, I don't know. Not sure what you could do to a piece of fiberglass to make something else want to stick to it.
Static electricity, conductive paint, seems like everything turns into a multi-pass process.
Maybe just burning off the clearences around traces with a laser is the way to go.

WARNING: 100% noob question ahead!

Won't the laser be reflected by the copper surface of the board? Not only that, but you'll need an extremely powerful laser to do that. I have no idea how to calculate the required power of such laser, common sense tells me it'd be over 15W. How much does such a beast cost?

Focusing this laser to burn 4mil-10mil wide clearances between tracks and pads would also require some effort creating the focusing lenses (reuse a set of Nikkor or Canon lenses??), not to mention that there must be an excellent cooling system for the dissipated heat.

I for one would love a system where blank copper board goes into an end and a drilled, ready to solder PCB comes in the other.

I still have a working, ancient Epson Stylus Color II. they don't even make cartridges for it anymore, I guess. I'll try to work something out of it.


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