Inventables Community Forum

Milling PCBs

Anyone else routing PCBs? This is one of the projects that I bought the x-carve for.

As soon as I receive it, should be one of my main activities with the carver :smile:

Have you determined a workflow yet, i.e. how to go from layout to the x-carve?

I have used the Shapeoko 2 for MANY PCBs and I was just covering that subject the other day on my visit to the Inventables office with their R&D guys. I use a program called Flatcam http://flatcam.org/

It does a great job of setting up for files for milling on the X Carve or the Shapeoko. It will produce the needed Gcode.
It is rather easy to get very good boards off the mill with rather little effort. Here are a few samples.

Flatcam will take your gerber file and let you make the needed Gcode toolpaths for each layer on a single or double sided board. Then it will let you set the board cutout and also copper clearance if desired. Best of all it is FREE. If you team it up with something like a TinyG and Chilipeppr or a MK3/4 from PlanetCNC you can even map the FR4 board and account for wrapping of the board and have perfect traces every time.

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This free software sounds good to me :smile:
It seems well documented, and cover all my needs.
I’m gonna start with it, thanks…

Thanks. Now I need to see if there are posts yet on using UGCS, or, Chilipeppr.

I am interested milling PCB. My question is what kind drill bits I need to employ ? Is there an adopter for the X-Crave router to employ these bits for engraving as well as drilling ?

Sudha

Hi,
There are some bits for drilling, and there are some for milling.
You’ll have to change tools for each step…

The Er11 collet on the Spindle will allow you to mill with many sizes of endmills and drill bits. The most common sizes are the 1/8" shaft. This is the standard for most endmill and drill bits for the sizes you will need. The size drill bits you will need will depend on what type of boards you are making and the size holes your parts need. As a broad rule a 1mm drill bit will cover most through hole parts. Though some parts need smaller holes. Most of the things I do need 1mm-3mm sized holes. You will also want some 1mm to 2mm router endmills bits like this ( http://drillbitsunlimited.com/100mm-Carbide-Router-CBFT-New-P5021500.aspx ) for cutting out your boards. Keep in mind that thin endmills like that can not be driven at high feed rates. Nothing above 50mm-75mm. Also watch your plunge rates for the drills as they will also snap if plunged in too fast.

I use Chilipeppr for all my milling with the Shapeoko 2 and the TinyG. The combo is very good at making boards and is a rather easy work flow overall.

Hello Travelphptog.
May I ask exactly what milling bit you used on the pcb shown on the first picture (the gray one, probably imersed in a tin bath)? Thanks

Another question for the experienced:
Do you think it’s possible to have a trace running between 2 DIP IC legs (typicaly spaced by 100mil/2.54mm)?

Tanks

That one was done with a standard .2mm V bit link this http://drillbitsunlimited.com/V-Engravers-10-15-20-304560-or-90-Degree-P4470196.aspx I used the 30 degree 0.2mm tip version. I am putting the finishing touches on my “How to Mill PCBs” project this weekend. I just have to add the photos and it will be a walk through for milling which should help a few folks out I hope.

Yes that should not be an issue at all… I would go with a thinner bit, more like this http://www.ebay.com/itm/30-degree-bits-scoring-engraving-sharp-point-narrow-tip-Kyocera-Tycom-/151386398234?hash=item233f551e1a or this http://www.ebay.com/itm/30-DEGREE-MICRO-CARBIDE-ENGRAVING-TOOLS-NIB-Kyocera-Microtools-Kyocera-MIT-/151709190812?hash=item2352928a9c. If you mill a pocket for your PCB stock then do a dense probing with about 1-2mm spacing, you should be able to mill a board that tight with ease.

This is the https://www.sparkfun.com/products/9716 I milled a few days back as a test and it is far smaller.

The cost of quality (different bits for the same job):

T&T: http://www.precisebits.com/products/carbidebits/scoreengrave.asp
Chineese: http://www.amazon.ca/Generic-Degree-Carbide-Engraving-Router/dp/B00HA0442S

Same traces after some sanding:

The traces on the right are larger (despite the .1mm diameter for the chineese bits compared to the .127 for the T&T) and there is still some teared material left. Also, sanding the board alters the finish. I’m not sure yet if it’s worth the $16 but it’s definitly cleaner.

I finished the project for Inventables at last! Here is the link guys. I hope it helps everyone out a bit.