3d printing and home PCB etching

Anyone know if it would be possible to layout a PCB using a 3d Printer? Im thinking that instead of laser printing and ironing on the layout you could just do a 1 slice print directly onto the copper and then etch as normal?
I guess the main issue is the size of the traces, you cant change the size of the hole in the print head so all the traces will be the same size, but would that really be a major barrier?

Interesting idea. What you put on the board (or next to the board) through either laser printing method is actually the toner, that then acts as a barrier. If you use UV exposure sensitive boards then you would need to print in a UV resistant material - is ABS or PLA UV resistant?. If you use raw copper boards you need to print in something that will resist chemical etching - again, are these materials resistant to acid? My guess is probably not…

But if you could figure out a way to have the printer lay down copper tracks… :slight_smile:

Wouldn’t it be easier to have something that cut out the copper around the tracks. A bit like the attached pic?

My understanding is that the toner from a laser printer is basically a plastic, in the same way that PLA is a plastic. When you iron on the laser print onto the copper it melts the toner again and it sticks to the copper (hence why you have to soak the board in water to remove the paper). If PLA is resistant to ferric chloride then this could work.
No messing around with irons and washing the board to remove paper and you could use any solvent that removes plastic (nail polish remover) to remove the PLA after you have etched the board.

EDIT : Also if you have a good anchor point you could easily do double sided boards (just have to drill the vias )

I guess cutting the coper out is also a good method but this way you dont end up chewing into the board.
Unfortunatley i dont have a 3d printer so i cant try it out :frowning:

not with a 3d printer. :)&

I went to Electronex here in AU a few weeks ago and drooled over this Quick Circuit 5000 SF :: SATCAM / RTD Circuit Design if only I could justify the $8k they wanted. But it has like 8thou tolerances which is pretty damn awesome. I’ve almost revisited my need to lash out on a cheapy ebay 3040 CNC to do the same thing (with less tolerances obviously !)

I think Kerry and crew have something like that in the lab in Redmond, IIRC. Talk about a drool-worthy playground. Pretty much everything she showed me on my last visit was a DO WANT!!! :slight_smile:

I have tried this on a 3d printer and the results so far have not been successful. The plastic does not stick well enough to the copper. We are continuing to experiment, but so far no luck.

Oh great, another reason to be jealous of my Redmond friends… Did you get to a Garage session at all? Sigh, even my local hackerspace is a fair hike away now!

Alas, no. Kerry gave me a tour of the shop while I was there for the MVP summit this year. I haven’t even manged to get to any of our local DC Garage “Stay Late and Code” events. Just too busy. :frowning:

With the current methods of 3d printing that i know of, chemical etching would not be possible because the principles behind them are to simply glue bits of polymer dust together on a small scale. Even if you have a plastic type that would be resilient to the acid my guess would be that the bonding substance would not be resilient. The best way to do this in my opinion would be to use a laser to melt segments of the particles together (this may now already exist, it has been a couple of years since ive had an interest or use in a 3d printer) .

Replace the 3d printer head with a mount for a sharpe permant marker. The ink in the pen resists the ink but is alcohol soluble.

Well this guy got PLA to adhere strongly to copper with nothing else at 130C.

Did anyone try this? I’m keen to give it a go.

Posting rules wont let me show you all this useful link. google CU + PLA hydraraptor

@ queglay - google spammmmmm

Are you saying that what I posted is spam? I fail to see how it is not relevent. Afterall its the same two materials - copper and PLA.

I have a genuine interest in trying to print a resist just at the OP posted.

Heres the link if you don’t think this is spam.

Looks like SPAM to me as there is nothing on there that hints to the resistor idea he talked about.

The only reference was the PCB material used and that had nothing to do with electronics, it was simply chosen as a good choice for the base material.

I’m saying its not a stretch to print on a copper pcb if you heat it to the same temperature - 130C. the person in that thread appeared to have strong adhesion.

Provided PLA is resistant to Ferric Chloride then it seems like you could have a pretty strong bond and use the PLA as a resist layer against the etchant