Voltera PCB printer

I was wondering if anyone has used one these DIY PCB makers


  • 8 Comments sorted by Date Added Votes
  • In my opinion, DIY PCB Printers are not quite ready for prime time. Although they look impressive, there can be various issues that would make them unworthy of the cost. When you can get boards from Oshpark in about a week, you can really only justify this machine if you have a reason to need boards immediately.
    You also need to ensure that the limitations of the machine's process don't interfere with your design. Although they show a 20mil fine pitch part being pasted, the printer is only rated to "ink" a 30 mil part (but they state a 25 mil part is possible)
    The paste it dispenses is a Tin/Bismuth paste which has a very low melting point of 138°C and from what I see in the video, a very low viscosity. These two factors could pose some issues depending on your design.
    Handsoldering the inked pads requires additional steps so that can add a considerable amount of build time to your "quick proto".
    Current capabilities of the silver ink may restrict designs that may see high current, such as a motor driver IC.

    While the Voltera machine looks nice, I have lots of questions that are avoided in their FAQ. I think it's designed for the DIY market where equipment cost can be justified, but true performance is a major requirement. As such, I don't think many will sell at this time.
  • WBA,

    Speaking of PCB printers, have you seen anything that can decently print on copper clad boards for doing it the old fashioned way?
  • WBA ConsultingWBA Consulting Posts: 2,705
    edited January 13 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Genetix wrote: »
    Speaking of PCB printers, have you seen anything that can decently print on copper clad boards for doing it the old fashioned way?

    Do you mean printing solderpaste? If so, I haven't seen anything that would work in the hobbyist world. At APEX 2 years ago, a company was showing their 3D printer that could print plastic with reasonable precision, then switch heads and machine the printed plastic to really tight precision. It also had a solderpaste dispensing head for when you used the machining head to mill copper clad boards. Unfortunately, the last place I heard anything about it was at that APEX show, so not sure what happened to it. I will be at APEX at the end of Feb again and plan on looking for the company.

    If you mean printing etch resist, I haven't seen anything along those lines that was reliable enough to make it worthy. Several one off solutions out there, but as Jonnymac keeps proving, the simple "PCB fab in a box" kit gets it done very well.

    For me, if I needed a board tomorrow, I would stop by my friend's house and mill one out on his CNC. He did one recently that worked fantastic. He went from a Friday afternoon concept to a Saturday evening assembled prototype that was rather impressive.
  • I guess I'll try the laser printed solder mask and chemicals then.
  • WBA,

    I meant printing some kind of "resist" so that the board could then be etched like using the old Radio Shack PCB making kits.

    Is there also an easy way to make a silkscreen layer on a homemade PCB?
  • Saw a project a whIle back that had you reverse laser print your design on magazine paper and then iron it onto the ready to etch copper. Then wash to remove the paper leaving the printed lines adhered to the board. Then into the tank. The toner became the resist. Have not tried it myself, but seems reasonable depending on how well the toner actually resists and how small a feature can be successfully etched this way. I don't know if there are any commercial papers or specific materials for this purpose.
    Ordnung ist das halbe Leben
    I gave up on that half long ago.........
  • The good old toner transfer method.

    I tried it a few years back. Never did find a paper stock that could produce very fine work. I did not have a laminator to press it, only an old clothes iron. Worked well enough for a few DIP chip boards. Would never have been good enough for the small traces we need for many SMD parts.

    The killer for me is that around here it's much cheaper to get 5 little boards made for a few dollars than it is to get the blank PCB and do it myself. Plus of course properly manufactured boards are enormously better.

  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 21,670
    edited January 14 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I agree with Heater.

    The final straw for me is ferrous chloride. I can't use it in my shop, because the fumes rust everything in sight, and it stains everything it comes in contact with. Nasty stuff! I've pretty much had with homemade PCBs. The fab places are dirt cheap. The only downside is that you have to wait a few days to see your precious designs made manifest.

    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
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