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  • 3D print a circuit board

    Just had a thought- you could 3D print a conductor pattern if you could lay a bead of filament just behind a guide controlling a thin copper wire. As you move along, unrolling the wire from a spool, the bead would fix it in place. The wire would have to be terminated by wrapping it once around each end point of the trace, or would carry on to other destinations before being cut and terminated. For soldering close to where the wire emerges from under the bead, I suppose you'd want to use a high-temperature filament- if such a thing exists. Seems to me that a head could be made that would control the wire, cutting and wrapping it as well. Point to point wiring done using CNC. That's about as close to 'direct deposit' of copper as I can think of.

    As I see it, the real snag in the method is the speed at which you can fix the wire in place as you go from point to point, turning corners etc according to the layout. I've used this method many times, but the quickest way I have of fixing the wires in place on a circuit board is to use ca and baking soda. Perhaps there's a way of preparing the surface of a board so the wire could be pressed into it as you drive the applicator point around- and maybe a bake is required after that to solidify the whole thing, I don't know.

    Most of you would probably say just farm out your circuit board needs. I can't argue with that, but I thought it would be interesting if you could use a 3D printer and a wire feed head to make your own boards.
    I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

  • #2
    There have been a few prototyping methods of printing traces, but I don't think any of them have been commercialized.

    Can you solder the wire in place after using the ca glue and baking soda?

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    • #3
      Google multi wire pcb

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      • #4
        PC boards are nice, but if you only need one or a few, wire wrap is a good prototype technique. I have made many boards that way for professional use.
        Paul A.

        Make it fit.
        You can't win and there is a penalty for trying!

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        • #5
          I've done some wire-wrapping, but I prefer using WW wire stripped and soldered on prototype boards. It is faster and probably more reliable, and doesn't need special square posts. I think it also looks better and is easier to modify. Here is a simple prototype which is a CDC USB device:



          http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
          Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
          USA Maryland 21030

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          • #6
            Alternatively you could print PLA or similar on copprr clad PCB sheets where you want to keep the copper, then etch, remove it after with acetone?

            Just my ha'pennorth,
            Dave H. (the other one)
            Rules are for the obedience of fools, and the guidance of wise men.

            Holbrook Model C Number 13 lathe, Testa 2U universal mill, bikes and tools

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            • #7
              I saw on thingiverse a guy made a bracket to hold an anti etching pen in his 3d printer head to make some slick boards.
              Cheers,
              Jon

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              • #8
                There have been plenty of different methods of making a circuit 'board' some more beautiful than others but the ugliest must have been the stereo amplifier a young man bought to my house for fault finding.

                He had pasted a magazine circuit drawing to a wooden board and driven nails in at every connection point. Components were soldered to the nails and connecting wires laid as per the diagram. It did not look pretty but it was a joy to fault find (wrong resistor values) and worked quite well.

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                • #9
                  I've used many methods of producing a circuit board. One was to drill an oversize hole where more than one component lead would go. One lead would usually get bent over and clipped, while another lead might be left full length to be bent over and directed to another point. I'd seen this method in some early amplifiers, etc- usually a brass rivet would be placed and multiple component leads would be pushed into it. To replace a part you heat the whole join and pull out the offending part. To me it was a classier method than using terminal strips. Today I wouldn't bother with the rivets, unless there was a specific need, like points where hookup wires would lead away from.

                  There are obviously different ways to mask a copper clad board for subsequent etching. I've been trying to explore ways in which etching is not required.

                  By the way, I've used ca/baking soda quite a bit lately, and of course you can't let it run into the zone where solder needs to flow. The heat does make the ca smell, and it can let go so you'd want to be careful of what kind of joints you're making. For soldering a resistor or transistor lead to one of these 'laid down' traces, it isn't a problem. One of the harder things to get right is applying just the right amount of ca to the wire to hold it in place.

                  I don't have a problem wrapping the wire around a component lead and clipping it, but it does make it a problem to ever remove and replace the part. I've been thinking to make up some 'fake' parts which would be just some music wire set into a pattern that would match the lead spacing of the part. You'd push that into the board and make your wraps around the pins. After fixing the traces in place you pull out the fake parts and you're ready to insert the real parts. The pins would have a diameter to closely fit the typical holes in a pc board, and the 'body' for the fake parts would be bits of pre-drilled prototyping pc board. Comes to mind I could make up an entire jig of pins to make a complete board if it's something I'd be making several of over time.
                  I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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                  • #10
                    I bought some conductive adhesive and a conductive ink pen, which can be used to make quick PCBs if a few ohms resistance is not a problem:





                    https://www.banggood.com/Conductive-...r_warehouse=CN


                    https://www.banggood.com/0_3ML-Silve...r_warehouse=CN

                    It might also be possible to use adhesive copper tape:

                    https://www.banggood.com/Copper-Foil...r_warehouse=CN
                    http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
                    Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
                    USA Maryland 21030

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                    • #11
                      I typically breadboard a circuit to make sure I still know what I'm doing. It makes it easy to deal with the fact that I don't. Anyway... a thought occurred to me the other day. I can buy a little breadboard, 18 strips per side, for $0.49 each. I bought 10 of them and fully intend to pot the whole thing, circuit and all, in glue. PCB board? Pfftt! Breadboard to DONE. Stupid little breadboards already come with adhesive backing and screw mounting holes. Nearly anything I'd want to do these days can fit on one.

                      I'm working on the first circuit now. Breadboard, an ATtiny85 "development board" complete with USB connector and 5vdc regulator, some spade connectors, mosfet, and diode. Total cost, $2.40cdn, not counting the glue. Maybe I'll come back here in a year or so and let you know how the potting with hot glue held up.

                      But, yeah, when somebody finally makes that PLA-conductive filament, where "soldering" involves wiping some kind of low-temp flux on the leads and then just stuffing them in the warmed up plastic, maybe 150C. That will be very good. Bound to happen sooner or later.

                      David...
                      http://fixerdave.blogspot.com/

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                      • #12
                        I have an LPKF Protomat S62 circuit board CNC milling machine (look it up on the web) in like-new condition I'm willing to trade for some machinery/tools if anyone is interested.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by The Artful Bodger View Post
                          There have been plenty of different methods of making a circuit 'board' some more beautiful than others but the ugliest must have been the stereo amplifier a young man bought to my house for fault finding.

                          He had pasted a magazine circuit drawing to a wooden board and driven nails in at every connection point. Components were soldered to the nails and connecting wires laid as per the diagram. It did not look pretty but it was a joy to fault find (wrong resistor values) and worked quite well.
                          This is how my electronics teacher Reg Dalby started us off with basic transistor circuits back in 1968, brass plated pins and tinned copper wire over a hand drawn circuit on thin ply, worked (most of the time) and it gave you some perception of what was happening.

                          Paul

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                          • #14
                            Brass plated pins- yes, have done that too. Right now I'm dealing with 1/4 and 1/8 watt resistors, plus the 'old style' 8 pin timer chips, so the pins are almost larger than the parts. In this case the hole-through-the-bare-board method would probably be better, with a wire leading over to the ic pins. This again is where a direct wire wrap to the ic pin makes it difficult to remove or replace the ic, so using a socket for the ic makes sense. I'll have to see whether I have a dozen or so sockets still around.

                            Any circuit which is complex beyond a simple ic or two is probably still best done using a pc board, which means a resist pattern applied plus etching. I'm kind of on the edge with this project, but I think I'm going to go with the holes only thing. I've made up some circuit board using plastic laminate layered back to back with fiberglass resin, and that's been a pretty good material to work with so far. It's reasonably stiff and hasn't delaminated at all, even with all the drilling. Drill bits last longer than they do when drilling fiberglass pc boards, which I'm happy about. Gluing to the melamine-faced sides of the laminate required that you scuff the surfaces to a dull finish, which in turn means that you try to avoid touching the surfaces with your fingers for the duration of the process. But CA and epoxy both work well at this point. Holes only, with no printed traces, means that you often have to hold the parts in place since you may not want to fold the leads over on the other side.

                            Where a lead needs to be run from a connection hole, I usually use solid core telephone wire. This is about .020 diameter, and where a typical pc trace might be 2 thou thick this would correspond to a trace width of about .2 inch wide. That's a pretty significant conductor if it was on a pc board, capable of carrying several amps. In wire form at .020 diameter it doesn't take up much real-estate on the board and is very easy to route and terminate- requiring of course a certain degree of manual dexterity and some jewellers pliers, etc.

                            Pc board is still the simplest, and best for circuits of any significant complexity- once the boards are made and ready for populating.
                            I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by jmarkwolf View Post
                              I have an LPKF Protomat S62 circuit board CNC milling machine (look it up on the web) in like-new condition I'm willing to trade for some machinery/tools if anyone is interested.
                              That LPKF was OK. The cut boards were way ugly, and we ended up using photo etching, with the LPKF used just for drilling and routing the board outline.

                              We had the OLD one that is larger in work envelope. It would do almost a 15 x 15 inch area, as I recall.

                              I have been looking for one in working order, but they are rare, at least rare if you want the software to run it, as well as the basic machine. Lots of folks seem to have the bare machine only.

                              Is yours the bigger or the later small one?

                              Nemmind the question, I looked it up. Nice machine. We might talk
                              Last edited by J Tiers; 12-26-2017, 08:41 PM.
                              1601

                              Keep eye on ball.
                              Hashim Khan

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