If you’re like most makers, you probably don’t have a dedicated manufacturing facility. That means you probably do your manufacturing from home or in an office that has access to a printing station. It also means that the cost of manufacturing can often be surprisingly high. With that in mind, it’s important to realize that the cost of circuit board manufacturing goes up and down based on many factors beyond your control.
This means that even if you are able to print successfully at home, there may be other factors that make it difficult for you to print consistently. Therefore, if you want to increase the chances of success, here are 5 tips from FS PCBA for printing circuit boards successfully:
Understand the limitations of your printer
Before you print a single circuit board, you’ll have to print a test board to figure out the limits of your printer. After that test board is printed, you can then print a circuit board to verify the limits of your printer. If you are using a consumer-grade printer, you’ll have to print test boards that are at least 7.5 x 4.5 inches. A professional-grade printer may be able to print boards that are larger, but starting out, you’ll need to know the limits of your printer.
Print test boards and print test circuits frequently
If you’re only printing test boards and not circuit boards, you may be wasting a lot of ink and paper. To make sure that you aren’t spending too much money on ink and paper, print test boards frequently and print test circuits frequently, too. If you are printing a single test board, it’s easy to see how much ink and paper it uses. But if you print 10 or 100 boards, it can be much harder to track the cost of printing.
Many manufacturers use a printer’s cost per page to track how much they are spending on ink and paper, especially for large-format printers. That is, manufacturers may track the cost of ink and paper per page, allowing them to easily track the cost of printing 10, 100, or 1,000 test boards without having to manually track ink and paper cost.
Use a slicing program to create a template before printing
When you are starting out, it’s best to print test boards that are simple and don’t have many components on them. This will help you to get used to printing boards that are somewhat small and simple in design. Once you are comfortable with printing test boards, you may want to start printing full-size circuit boards. Before you print a full-size board, you may want to create a template that has the components you want to print on it.
That way, when you are designing your circuit board, you can keep everything on the template and not have to think about how to space out components on a board that you are printing.
Know what makes an acceptable prototype
While it is best to print test boards and circuit boards that are simple, you may want to experiment with printing complex boards. If you want to experiment with printing complex boards, you should make sure they are prototypes that only have features that meet the required requirements. Any more features than that, and you may want to reconsider using that board as a prototype.
However, even prototypes for prototypes can be useful for learning about how PCBs are made and what can be done to improve PCB manufacturing processes.
Keep track of failures, and be aware of how they might happen
The cost of circuit board manufacturing can be surprisingly high, but it can also be surprisingly low. The best way to understand how much your board costs is to keep track of how many boards you produce and how many boards you fail. Most board manufacturers have a process that they follow when making a board.
If you notice that you are producing a high number of failed boards, one of the factors that might be causing this is the design of your circuit board. On the other hand, if you are consistently producing a high number of boards that fail after being tested, you may want to take a closer look at how you are manufacturing the boards.
This article was intended to help readers understand the cost of circuit board manufacturing. By keeping track of the costs of printing test boards and circuit boards, and by understanding the limitations of your printer, you can increase the likelihood of successfully printing circuit boards at home.
This will also help you to ensure that you don’t waste money on ink and paper. It is also important to understand the limitations of your printer and to print test boards and circuit boards frequently. The more you know about how circuit boards are made, the better you will be at creating functional PCBs that are cost-effective and environmentally friendly.