A printed circuit board or PCB, in general, is manufactured using the etching or wet methods. This method is a non-chemical copper removal process so that PCB fabrication can be done in a lab environment without hazardous chemicals.
There are no hard and fast rules for this PCB manufacturing CNC Machines. However, the prototyping articles or prototype PCBs can be produced using CNC engraving machines.
However, some limitations apply, which are stricter than the conventional method.
This method is usually suited to prototype PCBs such as university student educational projects, lab experiments, research labs, hobbyists, and proof of concept tests.
The technique is slightly costlier than the etching method because the engraving and drilling tools are costly. However, the machine installation cost is much less than the large-scale PCB production setups.
In Fig. 1, a CNC machine (of renowned CNC machines manufacturing brand) is shown for WellPCB. We will provide you with a one-stop service and high-quality products.
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The input of the PCB is a Gerber file generated after completing the PCB layout and checking the design rule check (DRC) of the PCB.
The Gerber files, which translate the Gerber files into G-code or M-code, are the machine’s input for drilling and removing the extra copper from the lamination sheet.
After removing the excess copper, the remaining tracks, vias annular ring, ground/ supply planes, and pads.
As the machine only removes copper by engraving, the vias are produced by conventional electroplating or inserting the via barrels.
Fig 1. PCB fabrication using renowned CNC PCB fabrication machines producer
The PCB quality depends on the machine type used and its accuracy. However, this method explicitly suits the RF circuits and antenna design.
2. Advantage Of PCB Milling Machines
There is the various advantage of PCB milling machines:
1. It does not require the hazardous chemicals
2. PCBs can be produced within the lab
3. PCB fabrication is instant
4. Tracks and land patterns can be produced very accurately, such as for microwave and RF applications
5. A single machine can be used for milling, drilling, and cutting the PCB
6. The Gerber files can be directly linked to the CNC machine
7. Suitable for environments where PCBs are sufficient to be used without solder masking, through-hole plated vias and pads, and surface finishing
3. Disadvantages of PCB manufacturing CNC Machines
This method also has some disadvantages:
1. It is not suitable for large-scale production
2. PCB cost is high due to tools breakage
3. Spindle cooling is required for high-speed spindle machines
4. Minimum PCB tracks width, clearance, via size, annular ring, and minimum hole size are the design side constraints
5. Separate machining setup is required for vias and through-hole pads insertion
6. Any misalignment or deviation in drilling or milling tool causes inaccuracies in the fabricated PCBs. The PCB object’s position precision highly depends on the machine spindle and tool.
In conclusion, the large quantity of precision PCBs production best suits the wet or etching method, and minimal scale prototype testing PCBs suit using the CNC fabrication method.
Fig. 2:- Final fabricated PCB using CNC engraving machine
Fig. 3:- Final fabricated PCB using CNC engraving machine