DIY printed circuit boards (PCB) are an intermediate step toward mass producing an industrial-grade integrated circuit.
After prototyping a project using tools like a solderless breadboard, small-run or one-off PCBs are a good choice when you want a more structurally stable version of your circuit that is destined for mass production. Perhaps you would like to be able to install it into a larger project prototype. Once all the what-ifs and tests are successful with these hand-made PCBs, higher resolution industrial processes can be used to fabricate more robust PCBs.
Thanks to members, mirage335 and Dan Barlow, we now have a standardized method to fabricate DIY PCBs with traces (conducting areas) and spacing (non-conductive areas) of 6 mil (0.15mm).
For projects where the 10 mil tolerances made possible by our CNC mill are not enough, photolithography is a good alternative. The process uses light-sensitive coatings to mask conductive surfaces before etching. The result is a a lovely printed circuit where before you had a jumble of wires. The process, workflow, and references are described by mirage335 on our wiki.
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Join the HacDC and and the Baltimore/Maryland RepRap User’s Group (RUG) for a weekend of RepRap fun! Save the weekend of January 24/25 for our RepRap Build-a-Thon. Initial plans include a range of activities, including hands-on group construction a RepRap Darwin from the ground up starting with laser-cut acrylic parts. We are also planning on having several local RepRap builders on hand with their machines, and hopefully able to demonstrate them in operation, making stuff!
We would also like to invite some of the local technology media/blogosphere folks, and take the opportunity to not only demonstrate what these machines can do, but also to talk in general about the implications of readily-available (and self-replicating) rapid prototyping machines. Certainly a great opportunity to chat with some RepRap pioneers, have a chance to participate in a hands-on build, and to generally have a good time with some local hackers.
More information coming as the plans develop- watch this space! If you are interested in helping out, please let us know via the mailing list. If you have contacts in the local technology media, or know someone in the trade who would be interested in this kind of event, please let us know! See the movie post below for a time-compressed version of RepRap construction by one of the original designers- the time represented by the video is about four hours. Given enough participants, we should be able to do something similar in our two days!