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9 Reasons We Do not Recommend PCB Etching At Home

Many PCB enthusiasts go for DIY PCB etching at home. The procedure is exceptional if you are creating a single or a few PCBs for fun or a home project. However, DIY etching is not at all suitable for the large-scale production of PCBs. You do not have the required materials and equipment to etch PCBs at home. As a result, your application or project may also suffer. 

 

Any expert will recommend you to go for a professional etching process. But do you know why?

 

Because you are likely to commit many mistakes that make your PCBs a failure. In this post, we will talk about nine reasons that show why you need professional etching for PCBs. 

PCB Etching Needs a Lot of Materials

DIY PCB etching is not an easy task. To begin with, you need to arrange a lot of materials. You will need at least-

1. Papers and transparent sheets

2. Etching solution

3. Pressing iron

4. UV light

5. Solder and soldering iron

The list is not very short. You will face challenges in arranging the materials. Some of them are also available only to businesses. 

Not having the right materials can hamper your etching process. You may end up with a poor quality PCB that malfunctions. The copper connections will also not be optimum. Consequently, all your effort and money will go to waste.

It is the very first reason we suggest you go for professional etching.

You May Not Have the Right Etching Light

The PCB etching process needs professional equipment. Among them, a UV lightbox is crucial. You need to expose the PCBS to UV light to cure the etch. 

PCB manufacturers use advanced UV lightboxes to cure PCBs. However, getting such a UV lightbox for home use is not practical. On top of that, you will need to spend quite a bit of money.

Don’t make the mistake of etching your PCB under a normal lamp. That will not achieve your goal. You specifically need a UV light for the job.

Some enthusiasts make their own lightbox using different materials. However, they are not efficient and can hamper your PCB production.

Professional UV lighting for etching PCB.jpg

Problems in Imaging During PCB Etching

Etching PCB requires the use of professional developers. You need first to spray the developer on the board. Then it would help if you waited for some time before starting brushing. However, the process is not that simple.

First, you have to take maximum protection. PCB developers can harm our skins. You will need gloves and other gear for protection. Such speeds are not always easy to find.

Next, you also need to know how much time to wait. If you brush your PCB too early, your etching will not be successful. Additionally, it would help if you also were careful while cleaning. Otherwise, the traces will not come out properly.

As a result, we recommend you go for a professional PCB assembly.   

PCB etching issues can arise due to poor imaging.jpg

The Selection of the Right Etching Reagent

PCB etching uses a range of etchants. You can use-

1. Ferric chloride

2. Alkaline ammonia

3. Sulfuric acid

4. Hydrogen peroxide

It would help if you chose the right etchant based on your objectives. Along with that, you also need to select the right etching reagent. This will depend on the etching solution you choose. 

Going for the wrong reagent can be dangerous. It can hamper your correct PCB service provider. Thankfully, there are various PCB manufacturing. You may also expose yourself to harmful chemical reactions. 

We suggest you consult an expert before DIY etching. Else, manufacture your PCBs from a reliable company to get the best results. 

Proper Recycling of Etching Reagent

Your task doesn’t end with choosing the right etching reagent. It would help if you also discarded it safely.

As you can see, etching requires chemical reactions. The etching reagent you select is responsible for it. That means you need to take adequate precautions against dangers. One caution is the proper recycling of etching reagent.

You can’t discard your reagent down the drain. It will pollute the environment and also break the law. For this reason, PCB manufacturers invest in reagent recycling during PCB etching. However, it may not be possible to recycle reagent at your home.

Going for a professional etching process removes any concerns about recycling.

Go for professional PCB etching from a reliable manufacturer.jpg

Proper Control of Temperature

It would help if you had optimum control of temperature for etching your PCB. Manufacturers use sophisticated equipment that automatically controls temperature. However, this advantage is not available to DIY PCB makers.

Using the wrong heat can hamper the etching process. It can also damage the board and traces. Ultimately, the whole project may fail just because of improper temperature control.

A reliable PCB manufacturing company will never have these problems. They will always use the right temperature for PCB production success. 

Nature of PCB Etching You Need

How to etch copper PCB? 

If you are asking this question, you shouldn’t go for PCB etching at home. You must know that manufacturers use different methods of engraving. For example, you can use mechanical etching or chemical etching. Naturally, the choice of the etching process depends on several things.

For example, you can use mechanical etching for eliminating narrow strips of copper. It’s also useful for separating the circuit elements from the board.

On the other hand, chemical etching uses corrosive fluid to remove copper. As we said earlier, you need to consider many things to choose the right etching process. Else, you are in trouble!

We recommend you to adopt professional PCB services. That way, they will select the best procedure based on your needs.  

You need to choose the right PCB etching process .jpg

You Need Adequate PCB Etching Protection

Etching PCB is a dangerous process. You have to perform various steps that can be risky. PCB manufacturers use advanced equipment and machines. The tools increase the safety of the process and reduce risks. 

Companies also spend a lot on protective gear. You will see people wearing protective clothing, gloves, goggles, and more in a PCB factory. They are special equipment meant for hazardous activities.

Curing your PCB at home also needs protective gear. However, they might not be easy to find, especially protective clothing. Additionally, you will also need to make a considerable investment. 

Such hassles reduce productivity and put you at risk. So, go for professional PCB production.  

You Do not Have Advanced PCB Etching Equipment.

We have said this several times. A PCB manufacturing company uses advanced machinery to make and etch PCBs. The machines cost hundreds and thousands of dollars. Naturally, a PCB enthusiast will not be able to afford that. 

Buying such machinery is also useless unless you make large batches of PCB. You will also not have the room in your home. The machines are big and bulky.

Ultimately, it makes no sense to spend so much. You can get your PCB etched at less cost from a PCB production company. And that is also the best way to go. 

PCB manufacturers use professional equipment you don't have.jpg

Conclusion

As you can see, etching PCB at home is not a good idea. You can expose yourself to dangerous chemicals and ruin your health. Also, you do not have the right tools to use. You also are not aware of the nuances that affect the etching process. 

As a result, your PCB production can become useless. You will not be able to use the PCBs as they are faulty. So, always go for a reliable PCB manufacturer to make your PCBs. We offer you the customization you need. And we produce PCB’s in a state-of-the-art tech and equipment. There are bulk discounts as well should you need more.

Contact us today for a free consultation on your order. 

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Hommer Zhao
Hi, I am Hommer, the founder of WellPCB. So far, we have more than 4,000 customers worldwide. If you have any questions, you can feel free to contact me. I really appreciate any help you can provide.

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