SparkFun Forums 

Where electronics enthusiasts find answers.

#201829
I have recently started prototyping a new project and so I was forced to free up my prototype boards by moving an old successful circuit, that’s been happily doing its thing in the loft for a year spread over 4 prototype boards, onto a new permanent double sided PCB home. It’s been a while since I’ve had to produce a PCB and I got quite fed up with the endless faffing about printing the layouts onto acetate. As it needs a double sided PCB I found it very time consuming printing 2 copies for layering to enhance the black for the photo resist UV exposure. Aligning both double layered artworks for top and bottom layers and trying to make sure they were square and true
without moving ready for the exposure front and back was an infuriating nightmare. In general the exposure was good for both sides but each one I exposed, developed and etched were all skewiff after drilling. So disappointing after all the effort that had been put in and even more so when I realised I had exhausted my etchant just when I had a pretty good alignment but couldn’t etch it until I ordered some more sodium persulphate.
After whining to a friend over a beer about my woes he invited me round to his workshop and shows me his fantastic printer. He puts my copper clad board on the bed, loads up my artwork file, in less than 5 minutes he double prints the top layer, flips the board over, double prints the bottom layer and hands it back to me ready to go straight into the etching tank. The inks were UV cured and dry immediately, they survived the etchant and produced a PERFECT PCB. The smallest tracks I had were 0.5 and even the surface mount pads were spot on.
I am considering investing in a similar printer specifically for short or batch runs, one off prototypes and test boards, I’m just curious as to how much interest I could generate by completely disposing of the UV photo resist shenanigans, straight to print PCB services, no hassle, ultra fast turn around, prototype board to soldered PCB in under an hour, has anyone had any previous experience of this method? It seems the sensible way forward as far as PCB manufacturing goes. Question is, is there enough demand for one off PCB’s to justify the cost of the machine? Who here would order a PCB using this method? Simply email your artworks, and receive your board the following morning in the post, what could be simpler and more accurate??! I know where I’m getting my PCBs done for the rest of my electronic life. Bye bye photo resist forever for me.

Your input and thoughts are more than welcome