Drawing your own PCB

Drawing your own PCB
by on (#156228)
SoylentNews is running an article about a conductive gallium-indium ink that allows drawing circuits in a ballpoint pen on plastic transparency sheets, with resistance only 11 times that of copper. Would it be any good for prototyping PCBs for NES-related projects?
Re: Drawing your own PCB
by on (#156236)
My impression from the article was that it's not 'ready for prime time'. The substrate as well as the ink would need to handle the heat of soldering or maybe a conductive glue. And a dedicated printer or plotter to be useful, IMO.
But hey, given a little time could see a system kind of like the 3D printers.
Yogi
Re: Drawing your own PCB
by on (#156357)
yogi wrote:
My impression from the article was that it's not 'ready for prime time'. The substrate as well as the ink would need to handle the heat of soldering or maybe a conductive glue. And a dedicated printer or plotter to be useful, IMO.
But hey, given a little time could see a system kind of like the 3D printers.
Yogi


There are already home PCB printers either already available, or shortly to enter the market. The Voltera looks the most interesting, I think, since it can print pseudo-2-layer boards. To do that, it lays down the conductive ink, then uses non-conductive ink to build a bridge over the bottom trace, so that it can run another trace over it (like an overpass).
Re: Drawing your own PCB
by on (#156404)
Guspaz wrote:
There are already home PCB printers either already available, or shortly to enter the market. The Voltera looks the most interesting, I think, since it can print pseudo-2-layer boards. To do that, it lays down the conductive ink, then uses non-conductive ink to build a bridge over the bottom trace, so that it can run another trace over it (like an overpass).

Oh, did not know about these. Sounds interesting for FAST prototypes :) I'm guessing that one downside would be cost, at least for now.
Yogi
Re: Drawing your own PCB
by on (#156422)
It will be very very interesting because if using ink.. we can actually build multilayer boards at fraction of the cost.
Re: Drawing your own PCB
by on (#156462)
yogi wrote:
Guspaz wrote:
There are already home PCB printers either already available, or shortly to enter the market. The Voltera looks the most interesting, I think, since it can print pseudo-2-layer boards. To do that, it lays down the conductive ink, then uses non-conductive ink to build a bridge over the bottom trace, so that it can run another trace over it (like an overpass).

Oh, did not know about these. Sounds interesting for FAST prototypes :) I'm guessing that one downside would be cost, at least for now.
Yogi

Depending on the durability, it probably makes sense for small runs too, if the boards aren't too complex. It's one thing to stuff a prototype board yourself (and the Voltera is supposed to be able to print the solder paste right onto the board without the need for a solder stencil and also serve as a reflow oven) but I imagine that would get old real fast if you had to stuff complex boards for anything more than just prototypes. Now if only somebody could make a cheap home pick-and-place machine :P

There is a decent up-front cost, but I'd imagine that the long term cost is much cheaper than paying somebody else to do prototypes for you, considering what I've seen of pricing from people like OSHPark.

EDIT: Actually Voltera says you can't reflow solder boards they print, so the solder paste printing stuff is meant for traditional boards, not things printed by their own machine.
Re: Drawing your own PCB
by on (#156468)
Guspaz wrote:
Depending on the durability, it probably makes sense for small runs too, if the boards aren't too complex. It's one thing to stuff a prototype board yourself (and the Voltera is supposed to be able to print the solder paste right onto the board without the need for a solder stencil and also serve as a reflow oven) but I imagine that would get old real fast if you had to stuff complex boards for anything more than just prototypes. Now if only somebody could make a cheap home pick-and-place machine :P

There is a decent up-front cost, but I'd imagine that the long term cost is much cheaper than paying somebody else to do prototypes for you, considering what I've seen of pricing from people like OSHPark.

EDIT: Actually Voltera says you can't reflow solder boards they print, so the solder paste printing stuff is meant for traditional boards, not things printed by their own machine.

It is interesting but at least for myself, doubt I'll ever buy one. Could see commercial and education users as the market.
I've done lots of Toner Transfer boards but really like the OSH Park service and the cost isn't bad at $1.67 per sq Inch for each board. Much cheaper then my time doing a DIY board :) The main downside is waiting on the fab.
Yogi
Re: Drawing your own PCB
by on (#156548)
This device is cute, but anything worth putting on a PCB is probably complicated enough that you would want the schematic-based design of real PCB software and the accuracy of a real PCB fab. If your project wouldn't benefit from that then it probably should have point-to-point wiring for prototyping and such. Something so expensive and relatively resistant will really be stuck as a cutesy gimmick for a project most of the time...
Re: Drawing your own PCB
by on (#156551)
Seems like a spy-gadget sort of thing. Wonder how well it would draw on perfboard, and if there's a good erasure method--if so, it could be a little bit faster than cutting a wire. Could also do for weird jumperlike setups.