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  1. #1
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    Making PCB with laser (no chemical etch)

    I have seen some discussion online regarding making PCB directly with CO2 laser by eliminating unwanted copper with laser and leaving copper traces.

    Is this a possible scenario? I heard so many different opinions that I am truly confused and want to hear from experienced members here.

    Besides CO2 laser (just ordered),
    my lab does have a Xenon-Phosphorus-Neon gas laser that cuts thin copper like butter....I think this would work for making PCB directly, but I don't have experience with CO2 laser.

    Any help appreciated.

  2. #2
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    I know this one will I've seen it done. the problem is it takes experance and a learning curve to get it right!
    An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all, and Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

  3. #3
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    I am going to paint some black paint on some FR4 to be used as acid resist, and then i'm going to etch away the un-needed paint.... Wanna see some pics of the results? You guys ever try this method?

  4. #4
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    If you get a good result trying black paint, could you please share your result pics?

    I have seen this method discussed in this forum somewhere.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigbunny5 View Post
    I know this one will I've seen it done. the problem is it takes experance and a learning curve to get it right!
    My lab has a Versalaser.

    Do you know where I can see some result or techniques of direct laser PCB etching?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkinman View Post
    I am going to paint some black paint on some FR4 to be used as acid resist, and then i'm going to etch away the un-needed paint.... Wanna see some pics of the results? You guys ever try this method?
    I did last night, it works great. A lighter weight copper board will prevent undercut. The etch I did looks pretty impressive. I put Scotch tape across a board, two light coats of Duplicolor flat black allowed to dry in between, then etched. The black paint came off easy with acetone.

    Ill post pix later.

    Now, I am trying to figure out HOW to remove the black paint, been thinking laser but its starting to sound cost prohibitive.

    I got my power supply yesterday, have a controller board on order, and the concept for the mill in my head.

    Cheers-
    Andrew

  7. #7
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    Here is the test results of using paint to resist etch. Worked out great! Now, to figure out if an inexpensive laser would work to burn away the black paint... or what other method would be used?

    Here are the pictures as promised:





















    HTH-
    Andrew

  8. #8
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    Here is a picture of my results (after etching) and a video of the process.

    I used rubbing alcohol to remove the paint that re-deposited back onto the surface of the copper. This actually seems to be quite a problem. If I do not use the proper speed and power settings (perhaps 20 speed and 60 power?), then I get bad results due to the paint I am not trying to ablate burning, or the paint that I am ablating sticking back to the the surface of the copper.




  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkinman View Post
    Here is a picture of my results (after etching) and a video of the process.

    I used rubbing alcohol to remove the paint that re-deposited back onto the surface of the copper. This actually seems to be quite a problem. If I do not use the proper speed and power settings (perhaps 20 speed and 60 power?), then I get bad results due to the paint I am not trying to ablate burning, or the paint that I am ablating sticking back to the the surface of the copper.



    Hi Bkinman,
    I'm going to buy a Laser Engraving machine sometime soon, and I'll be usining it for PCB route engraving, May I know which brand of Laser Machine do you have and where did you buy it from?

    Thanks,

    Freddy

  10. #10
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    It is a Laserpro Explorer II. I do not own this one, it belongs to the University of California, Santa Cruz.

  11. #11
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    I thought (by the title of the thread) that you were looking for a NON-etch laser process?
    thanks
    Michael T.
    "If you don't stand for something, chances are, you'll fall for anything!"

  12. #12
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    I'm not sure that you CAN do it by just etching off the copper. The fiberglass underneath would not take well to that at all.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkinman View Post
    I used rubbing alcohol to remove the paint that re-deposited back onto the surface of the copper. This actually seems to be quite a problem. If I do not use the proper speed and power settings (perhaps 20 speed and 60 power?), then I get bad results due to the paint I am not trying to ablate burning, or the paint that I am ablating sticking back to the the surface of the copper.
    Try changing to burn from the bottom up instead of the top down. I have the exact same laser and have used that setting many times when I want to eliminate, or reduce, soot or other problems.

    Gary

  14. #14
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    Ok, I know this is an old thread, but this is what I am trying to do and was cutious what the results are. I have a 120 watt laser and need to make a PCB. I was wondering if anyone had success with the "no chemical" aspect of making the boards. I have never made my own board before so any help would be great.

    Thanks!
    Necessity is the mother of all invention (unknown)
    My club home page www.lhmac.org

  15. #15
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    Dont loose your time. No way to make it without chemistry.

  16. #16
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    Could you use a CNC router, and cut down a fraction of a mm below the copper?

  17. #17
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    CNC Router on PCB board

    Agreed bpoulin cnc router suggestion,here are some photos for special tools for PCB boards.if need I can check you some details of PCB tools.
    Mike
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails PCB1.jpg   PCB2.jpg   PCB3.jpg  

  18. #18
    For very simple one off pcb's I have found isolation routing to be quick and cost effective. Most of my prototype stuff is made this way.
    For more complicated boards, spraying with car paint, laser etching, then chemical etching is quick and easy but better suited to surface mount (as there is no drill file, through-hole would be a pain to drill manually). Tweakie.CNC - Making stuff - Printed Circuit Boards.

    Tweakie.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails pcbb1.jpg   pcbb2.jpg  
    CNC is only limited by our imagination.

  19. #19
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    Might be possible

    I have been exploring this as well, first idea was to use a UV laser on a 2 axis CNC and then chemical etch, however directly etching with the laser seems even better, here is a video of the process in action.

    Would love to hear comments from anyone experienced with laser etching, I would really like to build one of these.


  20. #20
    Mike,

    Direct etching copper with a laser is going to cost serious money.

    Tweakie.
    CNC is only limited by our imagination.

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