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'[EE] CNC PCBs - Anyone given this method a try?'
2009\01\25@214725 by solarwind

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Hey all, has anyone tried making PCBs using a CNC machine? Sounds like
a really cool and fast way to make SIMPLE PCBs with almost no mess -
provided you have a CNC machine.

--
solarwind

2009\01\25@222431 by cdb

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:: PCBs using a CNC machine? Sounds like
:: a really cool and fast way to make SIMPLE PCBs with almost no mess
:: -
:: provided you have a CNC machine.

The machines are expensive, though you can make them yourself, but
often the cheaper made ones aren't that robust, they are also noisy,
don't forget a vacuum for the swarf.

There was a German design not so long ago published in Elektor called
the Tenbo (insert Germanic 'er' character there). Sadly the company
went out of business - about GBP 800 at the time.

Colin
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2009\01\25@235754 by William \Chops\ Westfield

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On Jan 25, 2009, at 6:47 PM, solarwind wrote:

> has anyone tried making PCBs using a CNC machine? Sounds like
> a really cool and fast way to make SIMPLE PCBs with almost no mess -
> provided you have a CNC machine.

Yes.  A couple of years ago I blew some bonus money on a used LPKF.  
Many of my pithy observations on the disadvantages of no PTH or  
soldermask are based on my experiences with it.  I've posted  
observations before; let's see if I can find them.   Ahh:

{Quote hidden}

(update: there are some third party etching bits that are cheaper that  
I need to try out.  Soon.  Maybe.)
{Quote hidden}

I've seen homebrew CNC machines aimed at the same sort of purpose, and  
the differences  between them and the LPKF are dramatic enough that I  
wonder whether the homebrew machines really work at all.  The LPKF has  
this big thick aluminum plate for rigidity and flatness of the PCB  
material, and whopping big stepper motors to drag the cutter sideways  
through copper and fiberglass...

BillW


2009\01\26@021003 by Wouter van Ooijen

face picon face
> to make SIMPLE PCBs with almost no mess -
> provided you have a CNC machine.

with *a lot* of mess (and noise)

--

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu

2009\01\26@050917 by Vic Fraenckel

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solarwind wrote:
> Hey all, has anyone tried making PCBs using a CNC machine? Sounds like
> a really cool and fast way to make SIMPLE PCBs with almost no mess -
> provided you have a CNC machine.
>
>  
There are people in the home-made CNC mill community that actively
pursue this. A few seconds googling "cnc pcb" will get you started.

Vic

--

*____________________________________________________________________________________________*

*Victor Fraenckel
KC2GUI
windswaytoo ATSIGN gmail DOT com**
*

2009\01\26@073131 by Antonio L. Benci

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We use an LPKF C30s PCB-CNC for in-house prototyping work, purchased
second hand for about $3,500.00 (AU$). Although it requires a bit of
prep work on the PCB file (using Altium) the C30s is great for one of
prototypes. Local prod costs for PCB house prototypes is about $350.00.
We cost out PCBs produced on the C30s at about $9.00/sq-inch, in house,
same day (depending on the prep work done on the PCB Gerber files). Not
exactly cheap (drill and mill bit costs are high) but bloody fast.

Regards,

Antonio Benci

Vic Fraenckel wrote:
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2009\01\26@074505 by olin piclist

face picon face
cdb wrote:
> There was a German design not so long ago published in Elektor called
> the Tenbo (insert Germanic 'er' character there).

What's a "er" character?  I know german includes the Esszet that looks like
a greek beta, and Umlaut forms for most vowls with the two little dots over
them, but what the heck is a "er"?


********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000.

2009\01\26@075622 by olin piclist

face picon face
Antonio L. Benci wrote:
> We cost out PCBs produced on the C30s at about
> $9.00/sq-inch, in house, same day (depending on the prep work done
> on the PCB Gerber files).

Now compare that to Gold Pheonix for 100 square inches with plated thru
holes, solder mask on both sides, silk screen on top, tested, and delivered
for $109.  That's nearly a order of magnitude cheaper.

The only advantage you have is same day turn as apposed to about 10 days.
Personally I find that rarely a problem.  There are enough projects going on
and other things to do on the same project that waiting 10 days for boards
is not usually a issue.  You still have to put together the BOM and order
parts.  Then you can usually get some firmware done before hardware is
available, or work on other projects that are in different phases.  You have
to ask yourself whether you want fast turn for instant gratification or to
compensate for poor planning, or whether there really is a true need for
such fast turn at such high cost.


********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000.

2009\01\26@115654 by Bob Blick

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On Mon, 26 Jan 2009 23:30:59 +1100, "Antonio L. Benci"
<nino.bencispamKILLspamsci.monash.edu.au> said:
> We use an LPKF C30s PCB-CNC for in-house prototyping work, purchased
> second hand for about $3,500.00 (AU$). Although it requires a bit of
> prep work on the PCB file (using Altium) the C30s is great for one of
> prototypes. Local prod costs for PCB house prototypes is about $350.00.
> We cost out PCBs produced on the C30s at about $9.00/sq-inch, in house,
> same day (depending on the prep work done on the PCB Gerber files). Not
> exactly cheap (drill and mill bit costs are high) but bloody fast.

It's good to see how the price really works out. I'd always suspected
running one would not be cheap.

A few years ago I picked up a used Roland X-Y plotter with the thought
of using resist pen directly onto copper clad board. I'd heard stories
about red Staedtler pens being good for this. Unfortunately there's
something wrong with the plotter that makes it miss steps every once in
a while and I haven't had time to figure it out. Maybe some day. Perhaps
it's just power supply caps or a bent guide. If anyone knows of a
mailing list for old Roland plotters, let me know :)

Cheerful regards,

Bob

--
http://www.fastmail.fm - The professional email service

2009\01\26@123551 by Gaston Gagnon

face
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solarwind wrote:
> Hey all, has anyone tried making PCBs using a CNC machine? Sounds like
> a really cool and fast way to make SIMPLE PCBs with almost no mess -
> provided you have a CNC machine.
>
>  
Phil is getting some very impressive results with less then expansive
machine. The machine is not built specifically for pcb making so it may
be used for other works as well.
http://www.millpcbs.com/index.php?page=fine-trace-pcb

Gaston

2009\01\26@123630 by Robert Young

picon face


> Subject: Re: [EE] CNC PCBs - Anyone given this method a try?
>
> > to make SIMPLE PCBs with almost no mess -
> > provided you have a CNC machine.
>
> with *a lot* of mess (and noise)
>
> --
>
> Wouter van Ooijen

I have a LPKF ProtoMat C30 I rescued and rebuilt.  So my cost in the thing is pretty low, mostly the consumable items.  The noise is primarily from the vacuum system, not the milling.  I have mine at home now and it gets its own room in the basement, I just set it up and let it run until it is ready for a tool change.  

Olin made a good point about the raw cost of running one of these things.  If you need more than one item and you can wait, they absolutely cannot compete based on cost.  However where I have found mine to be useful is in rapid prototyping where a client could not wait even the 24 hours to get something made.  We could fix an issue very nearly on the spot (or at least during the course of a 12-14 hour day).  I called these "boo-boo boards".  

Another item that it excelled at was making small boards for microwave circuits as it could be set up to mill with a straight wall on the edge of the copper.  So your transmission line looks like a rectangle when viewed in cross-section, not a trapezoid like an etched board or using the standard V tool cutter.  This meant they matched the formulas very, very closely.  And again, for a few one-off boards done on Duroid it was cost effective to get the thing done and some equipment repaired by making a replacement part instead of waiting days.

And the third item I have found it to be good at are prototype enclosure panels.  As long as the profile could be cut with a 2mm or 1mm diameter cutter I could whip out a couple of prototypes or do the 3 or 4 needed for a one-off project.

But if you are considering one of these for hobby use, I would really, really suggest you DON'T do it.  New they are quite expensive, the tooling can get expensive and frankly you can use places like AP Circuits, Sunstone, Advanced Circuits and a jillion others to get those one or two boards made.  You would do better to invest in Eagle and a nice sized sheet-metal shear (you can use a paper cutter but eventually you will screw up the pivot) to cut apart boards that you have self-panelized.  Save up a few small designs, put them on a single PCB and cut them apart yourself.

Rob

2009\01\26@142326 by cdb

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:: What's a "er" character?  I know german includes the Esszet that
:: looks like
:: a greek beta, and Umlaut forms for most vowls with the two little
:: dots over
:: them, but what the heck is a "er"?

Perhaps using the term Germanic instead of Scandinavian was misleading, though it is a germanic language - the 'er' sounding character is the O with the line through it. I could paste it here, but for some reason it gets mangled once sent.


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cdb, .....colinKILLspamspam.....btech-online.co.uk on 27/01/2009
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part 2 35 bytes content-type:text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
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2009\01\26@145341 by olin piclist

face picon face
cdb wrote:
> Perhaps using the term Germanic instead of Scandinavian was
> misleading,

I noticed you said Germanic instead of German, but you also said the people
doing it were in Germany.  If the people were doing this were in Germany and
presumably writing in German, what as the ER character got to do with
anything?


********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000.

2009\01\26@145922 by Joe Bento

face
flavicon
face
cdb wrote:
> Perhaps using the term Germanic instead of Scandinavian was
> misleading, though it is a germanic language - the 'er' sounding
> character is the O with the line through it. I could paste it here, Ø
> but for some reason it gets mangled once sent.
>  

That must depend on one's mail program or perhaps supported character
sets.  The Ø looks fine here on my machine in Thunderbird and also Mac
Mail.


I wish that zeros were sent with the slash as well, especially when
entering product activation codes.

Joe

2009\01\26@173423 by Antonio Benci

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Yes Olin, you are correct. We went from a wet PCB production facility which had
to be closed down due to OHS compliance problems to outsourcing for about 3
years. Here in Australia the average panel cost is about $350.00 for prototypes
(one panel). Our PCB production needs are small, not commercial quantities. It
would be great if we had a company such as Gold Phoenix (with comparable prices)
here in Oz.

Nevertheless, for our in-house needs, the C30s fills the need well. If
production quantities (greater than 100 sq in) are ever required, these jobs are
always sent out.

Cheers.

A. Benci

Olin Lathrop wrote:
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2009\01\26@174631 by olin piclist

face picon face
Antonio Benci wrote:
> production needs are small, not commercial quantities. It would be
> great if we had a company such as Gold Phoenix (with comparable
> prices) here in Oz.

But you do.  Gold Phoenix is at the other end of the internet for you, just
like they are for me.  They are physically located in China.  The price I
quoted includes delivery to the US or Canada.  I expect shipping to
Australia to be about the same, perhaps even lower since you're closer.


********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000.

2009\01\26@185525 by cdb

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:: We cost out PCBs produced on the C30s at about $9.00/sq-inch, in
:: house,

What factors do you take into your costings, and is that price a
commercial equivalent or university covering costs price.

I think QUT and Griffith charge about $2.50 per hour of work required.

Colin
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2009\01\26@190018 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Joe Bento wrote:

> I wish that zeros were sent with the slash as well, especially when
> entering product activation codes.

This you can often control. At least in text-only display, it is you
(well, your mail reader) who controls the display font -- and whether or
not the zero is slashed is a characteristic of the display font.

Gerhard

2009\01\26@192859 by Antonio Benci

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That cost is based on consumables and board prep plus FR4 base costs, basically
covering costs. Large jobs requiring significant time input includes a $140.00
prep cost on top of the sq in cost.

cdb wrote:
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2009\01\27@004557 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

>> We cost out PCBs produced on the C30s at about $9.00/sq-inch, in  
>> house,
>> same day (depending on the prep work done on the PCB Gerber files).

So what does that include?  It seems high for just tools and  
materials; more appropriate if it includes the time of a semi-skilled  
operator.  I figure as a hobbyist (willing to risk a bit more) that I  
get two or three PCBs of "single sided Arduino" complexity (http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/6XpLZjGrrhC4bKOdpdeBtQ?feat=directlink
) out of each $20 mechanical etching bit, with most of the other  
materials being in the "noise" range (you can use re-sharpened drills  
and contour routers that are pretty cheap, surplus PCB material, etc.)

It should be stressed that there are some significant advantages to a  
LPKF-like setup that disappear as your needs become closer to  
mainstream.   Creating two 5*7inch rectangular double-sided PCB with  
PTH, many ICs and components is silly.  Creating a bunch of different  
single-sided 2inch OD diameter 1inch ID rings that stack together to  
fit in a rocket body, or a carefully engineered 0.5in*4inch stripline  
layout that needs to be "fiddled with" before final fabrication, or  
even a bunch of 1.5 * 0.8 inch SS boards and the CNC fabrication  
starts to look more sensible.

BillW

2009\01\27@005311 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

On Jan 26, 2009, at 9:35 AM, Gaston Gagnon wrote:

> Phil is getting some very impressive results with less then expansive
> machine. The machine is not built specifically for pcb making so it  
> may
> be used for other works as well.
> http://www.millpcbs.com/index.php?page=fine-trace-pcb

It looks impressive, but keep in mind you're seeing a 44pin LQFP with  
only 13 pins that are connected to anything.  It's working on those  
high-density packages with multiple power pins that you really start  
missing double-sided with PTH capability.  I don't know if there is  
room under a TQFP package to make your own "vias" by solding wires on  
both sides.

BillW

2009\01\27@053110 by Antonio L. Benci

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The $9.00/sq inch covers basic prep time to produce the mill file from
CNC and Gerber files, yes there is always some file fiddling required.
This usually takes about 30-45mins.

Production type boards such as your 5*7inch example are always are
always sent out.

Cheers.

A. Benci.

William "Chops" Westfield wrote:
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2009\01\27@133130 by Peter

picon face

Olin Lathrop <olin_piclist <at> embedinc.com> writes:
> cdb wrote:
> > There was a German design not so long ago published in Elektor called
> > the Tenbo (insert Germanic 'er' character there).
> them, but what the heck is a "er"?

Cut at the wrong place ? In reality it could be:

Tembö(r) -> Tembo'er' -> (the right cut would be 'oe'-r)

But the Elektor CNC machine was not called that afaik. It was called 'Profiler'
I think (no. 1/2007 or so).

Peter

2009\01\27@134601 by Wouter van Ooijen

face picon face

> Tembö(r) -> Tembo'er' -> (the right cut would be 'oe'-r)
>
> But the Elektor CNC machine was not called that afaik. It was called 'Profiler'
> I think (no. 1/2007 or so).

In the Dutch version there was a TanBo machine, starting march 2001.

--

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu

2009\01\27@164130 by cdb

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face


:: But the Elektor CNC machine was not called that afaik. It was
:: called 'Profiler'
:: I think (no. 1/2007 or so).

This was before that, around 2004/5 I think. It was subject to a
patent application as it didn't 'X' / 'Y' like a normal plotter
machine, but used a turntable design (like a record player) and had
upto 3 drills at 3 points of the circle - this allowed either rapid
hole drilling for a PCB/artwork or a combination of router and hole
driller.

Complete versions or kits have not turned up second hand on Ebay as
yet.

Colin
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2009\01\27@164217 by cdb

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face


:: In the Dutch version there was a TanBo machine, starting march
:: 2001.

That would be the one!

My memory is getting vague.

--
cdb, TakeThisOuTcolinEraseMEspamspam_OUTbtech-online.co.uk on 28/01/2009

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