Despite PCB's complex designs, PCB fabrication is something that a person can do at home for simple and basic electronics projects. Investing on several tools will be beneficial in creating a board right at home. These tools and solutions are available in stores.
Cutting tools are essential, being the primary tools that cut through laminates and photoresists. A simple saw at home can be used although they should have carbide tips to prevent problematic cuts. While being accessible, many experts don’t recommend regular saws because they tend to produce low quality cuts and crooked tracks, which affects the board’s appearance and convenience in etching. Moreover, they have the tendency to scratch photoresists that often requires starting the fabrication process from the start. Several experts recommend a guillotine because it can easily cut fiberglass, which is a common laminate used on PCBs. Individuals who often do their own fabrication may find it beneficial to invest on this saw type.
PCBs have holes for placing components and screws to keep them in place once installed in a piece of equipment. Hence, drilling machines are important in PCB fabrication. Numerous drills, including hand drills, are available, but fabrication may require a vertical drill. This ensures that the holes made are straight and will secure components in place. Vertical drills have latches that secure the board in place. The drill bit is also placed vertically, which will move steadily while completing the drilling process. Moreover, vertical drills are relatively more powerful than hand drills. They can create holes on tough materials like fiberglass in seconds.
Manual drills will suffice for fabrication, but people may also invest on automatic drills if they will be fabricating as part of the business. Automatic drills are expensive and investing in them may only be worthwhile if the fabrication is going to be a source of profit.
Computers or Laptops
Computers are included in this list because they help in creating the PCB plan. Software suites can be used to create the PCB’s layout and use them as guide for the fabrication process. The good thing about computers is designing can be easy and more precise with their automated features.
Etching is the process of discarding parts of the plates to reveal the circuit patterns on the board. This is regarded as the simplest procedure in PCB fabrication and is often budget-friendly due to the many available solutions. Etching solutions include chemicals like ferric chloride and ammonium persulphate. They aid in removing unnecessary plate areas with their special formulation. Users, however, must take note of proper handling procedure for safety and minimize fabrication mess.
Planning Materials and Tools
These tools help in laying out plans for easy etching or for simply having an idea about how the final board will look like. Usual tools include acetate, dry transfers, pen markers for manual mapping, printing machines, and many more. Computers can help in setting up the plan, but many people prefer seeing the layout on printed material as PCB fabrication guide.
Developing is the step in which copper is prepared for removal. It’ll be necessary to use chemical solutions, like silicate-based chemicals and others. Just like in handling etching solutions, users must take note of safety precautions in using such chemicals to avoid potential problems.
Cleaning is all about preparing the board for use as fabricators remove components that shouldn’t be on it. Dirt on the board can be hindrances in completing its final layout and may affect its future function. Cleaning solutions can be as simple as acetone or special chemical formulas.
The process of completing PCB fabrication requires many tools. Fabricating your own board will require investing on special tools and solutions depending on their purposes. Be sure to take note of your project’s size and specific requirements to know whether you need to get special tools or not.