A printed circuit board is a board of very thin fiberglass that is used to connect various electronic components together with the help of transistors, sheets of copper, resistors, pads, and other conductive substances onto the board and all of these components are printed on to the board to a pathway connecting to a substrate that is non-conductive. Usually, the PCB has all the designs tracked on it already. These tracks help to reduce the number of wiring that has to be done which ultimately reduces the risk of loose connections and the risk of faults that may arise as a result of them. PCBs can easily be made at home by three popular methods which are: Iron on Paper Method, Laser cutting and edge etching method, and Circuit by hand Method.
Even though these three methods are very popular for making PCB, only the first two will be discussed in detail in this article as the third one is the most used method in the industries.
How to Make PCB At Home?
Let’s now look at how we can make PCB at home in different steps.
Step 1: Create the Layout of the Circuit
In this step, you convert your design/ diagram into the layout of PCB by making use of the software for layout. There are various packages of software for layout design and its creation. Some of the popular and useful ones are Cadsoft Eagle and PCB Wizard. To get a better quality it is important to set DPIG to 1200 in Cadsoft Eagle.
Step 2: You Gather All the Material that is required
This includes magazines or brochures, a Laser Printer, an Iron for clothes, an Etching solution, a Laminate Clad of Copper, Thinner, plastic wires, and scrubs used in the kitchen. You may also need a black marker, kitchen paper, old clothes, a cutter, and sandpaper.
Step 3: A Physical Print Out Of The Layout Is Necessary
You have to take a printout of the layout inappropriately sized paper. This will help you streamline the process. Once you familiarize yourself with the layout you will be able to work more efficiently.
Step 4: The Copper Plates Need To Be Cut
Once you know the size of the layout. You can keep that size in mind and then cut the copper plates according to that size.
Step 5: Making it Smooth
In this step, you make use of scrub or wool made up of steel to rub on the copper. This step is done to remove the oxide and photo-resistant layer of copper.
Step 6: The Print Is Ironed On
After printing it is ironed from the copper side while making sure the iron is heated up to the maximum temperature. You put everything on a wooden table and some clothes on the back of the photo. You hold the end with a towel and run the iron through it for about ten seconds then you iron the photo paper using the tip while applying the pressure for about fifteen minutes. Pressure should be applied slowly and pressing hard is better than just moving around the iron everywhere. The heat helps to melt the ink and transfer it onto the copper plate.
Step 7: Finalize The Print On To The Copper Plate
Method One: Iron-On Glossy Paper
In this step, you transfer the picture from the printout to the board. It is important to ensure the top layer is set horizontally. The copper side should be put on the layout that is printed and it should be aligned properly to the borders. A tape should be put on the remaining two sides of the board which does not have copper this will help to keep everything in position.
Method Two: Circuit by Marker
First, a sketch of the circuit is drawn with a pencil and then later with a permanent marker by making use of the circuit image printed on the glossy paper.
Step 8: Peel Off
Once the ironing is completed you put the plate that is printed in warm water for almost ten minutes. This will eventually dissolve and remove the paper completely. Whatever is left off can be removed at low angles. Sometimes when the paper is being removed the track may get lightened, to resolve this issue we use a dark-colored black marker to highlight the track.
Step 9: Etching and Disposing
You take a box, fill it with water, and dissolve 3 teaspoons of acid ferric chloride in it. You dip the PCB in this solution for almost thirty minutes until the chloride reacts with the copper and removes the excess copper from the PCB. This process is called etching and unmasked copper is removed out with the help of pliers. After this, you slowly remove the plastic box to and fro to ensure iron and copper chloride is formed. It is important to ensure that the etching solution is not touched directly without the gloves. Etching solution needs to be disposed of with proper care because it is very harmful to the fish and other water organisms; moreover, it can damage the water pipeline if poured directly into the sink. Therefore, it is important to ensure the solution is diluted well before disposed of.
Step 10: You Give the Final Touch to Your PCB
This is your last step in PCB making. You just add a final touch to it here. You add a few drops of thinner or nail polish remover on cotton wool to act as a toner and bring back the surface of copper. It should be rinsed in the thinner very carefully and once this is done a dry cloth should be used to dry it. Then you trim the edges with the help of sandpaper and use acetone to stick the glossy paper to the rough paper. After this, you drill the hole and arrange all the components a. your PCB is all set now!
Iron on the Glossy paper method is the easiest and the most efficient method to make PCB at home with little or no hassle. The Circuit hand method requires a little bit of skill and effort but making a complex PCB iron-on gloss method is the best and is strongly recommended.
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