PCB Boards are Cool, but the Holy Grail for robotics are the Kapton Flex Circuits which are both wire and circuit in one.

Using This Material, I was able to CNC a single-sided SMD circuit which is thin and flexible - though not quite Kapton :-(


For lightweight circuits that fit into odd shapes (like fuselages), etc, this is a process that can't be beat. You could probably use a chemical etch, but the CNC does the routing and cutout with the same tool.


First Design in Eagle then export in PCB-GCODE. I used 20mil spacing in eagle and a 16mil tool in gcode with a 3mil default (offset). I glued the scissor-cut material to a thicker PCB with spray glue, then held it down with clamps. It is critical to get the working surface flat (which took time and error).






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Comment by Jack Crossfire on April 29, 2010 at 11:10am
It could be used to make multilayer boards but for all its potential, no-one thought of selling it with photoresist.
Comment by Dimitar Kolev on April 29, 2010 at 11:51am
Some years ago I tried hot iron transfer method to copper plated (single layer) capton and etching after all - was quite good, but nothing followed. As far as I know LPKF S100 and their laser protomat can also handle capton, but on very high price for the machine. 6-8layers rigid flex board/10pcs/ 4 rigid panels/5x5cm with 363 ball BGA and microvias is something like 500USD per piece
Comment by Taylor Cox on April 29, 2010 at 4:05pm
So how does that cnc work with the copper? Do the cnc cut away the excess copper, leaveing the copper traces for the the components to be soldered too?
Comment by bGatti on April 29, 2010 at 4:37pm
@Taylor,
yes, the cnc (dremel router) removed the unwanted copper. Then cuts the part out.
Comment by Taylor Cox on April 29, 2010 at 4:40pm
Is it a homemade Cnc. Or is it store bought ?
Comment by bGatti on April 29, 2010 at 5:00pm
It is homemade by someone - I picked it up on ebay. It has some really poor qualities, (like 1/8 inch vertical play/give) but still managed a nice board.
Comment by Taylor Cox on April 29, 2010 at 7:17pm
How much would it cost if I were to build one myself or buy one factory made ?
Comment by Andy Geppert on April 29, 2010 at 7:25pm
Fantastic and inspiring work! Thank you for sharing it.
Comment by bGatti on April 30, 2010 at 7:38am
@Taylor,
home brew cnc start at about $2K. (About $1K for the framework/mill and another K for the electronics). I think this comes down to $1K for seriously economized models (wood frame etc...)
Comment by Troy Reabe on April 30, 2010 at 9:11am
i don't think the 2K is a good number
http://www.easy-cnc.com/kit3axis.html
so $300 plus $40 shipping for the controller and motors
and if you want to go cheap you can build the frame for under $200
http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-a-Three-Axis-CNC-Machin...

or you can check this thread or ebay item
http://www.cnczone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=55603
http://cgi.ebay.com/12-x-16-x-4-ZENBOT-CNC-ROUTER-ENGRAVER-/2605917...

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