5 Replies Latest reply on Nov 22, 2020 3:56 AM by michaelkellett

    How to cut solder paste stencils with a cricut.

    3v0

      A cricut is a computerized scrapbook cutting machine.  I have worked out

      the steps needed to have it cut stencils from Eagle's cream layer.

       

      The short version:

      -


      Eagle

      Layout PCB as usual.

      Change the tcream layer to no fill and color to black.

      Add a 2 inch line to the tcream layer.

      In the print dialog check black and print to pdf box.

       

      Inkscape

      Import the above pdf and save as a SVG (scalable vector graphic) file.

      I used the finest setting for details when importing the pdf but I do

      not know that it had much of an impact. The file was 8K. To see the

      graphics I needed to do a VIEW>DISPLAY_MODE>OUTLINE.

       

      Sure Cuts a Lot

      Load the SVG file from inkscape. SCAL has its own idea regarding what

      size the graphic should be. Using the scale on the onscreen cutting

      board shrink the graphic such that the 2 inch line is again 2 inches. To

      do this I first zoom to 400%. Move the graphic so the left edge is on a

      inch line. Then resize it so that it is 2 inches long.

       

      Save the SCAL project. Load the project again and hit cut. If you try to

      cut without saving and loading (or maybe just undoing the zoom) SCAL

      will crash.

       

      -


       

      I used the demo version of SCAL.  It makes extra cuts through the

      graphic to make it unusable.  They did not cause enough problem to make

      the stencil unusable.  The non demo version can be had for $75 from

      Craft Edge  http://www.craftedge.com/.

       

      The details of how I figured this out can be found on the Electro-Tech

      forum.  I have posted several images there. The thread is

      http://www.electro-tech-online.com/showthread.php?p=674243#post674243

       

      There are still some warts but it works.  Most are with the SCAL

      software but none are show stoppers.

       

      When I have worked with the method a bit more I will post a how-to on my

      web site.

       

      3v0

       

        • Re: How to cut solder paste stencils with a cricut.
          Autodesk Guest

          Nice project.

           

          Another more rigid way to do this i think is to etch a thin brass sheet

          like you etch the cirquit board.

           

          For the material go to http://www1.business.conrad.de/

          and in Artikelnummernsuche enter 529060 and press enter.

           

           

          Another idea also pops up: is the machine rigid enough to swap the knife

          for a mill to route the board.  And maybe change to drill to drill it...?

           

          • Re: How to cut solder paste stencils with a cricut.
            3v0

            I had been planning to use the PulsarProFX toner toner transfer system

            to etch brass stencil plates.  The Cricut more or less landed in my lap.

               Now that it is working I think I will stay with it, fast and

            inexpensive.

             

            To make my boards I use a CNC mill to drill the holes using the ULP

            pcb-gcode to create a file the mill understands.  I transfer and etch

            each layer, one at a time, aligning the toner to the drilled holes.

             

            I could use the CNC to mill the boards, but I do not think one can get

            the fine lines that you can get with the Pulsar stuff. It would be much

            slower.

             

            The cricut is quite sturdy for what it is.  There may not be room for a

            mill motor.  One would have to use a flex shaft setup.  I do not know

            how well the XYZ parts would stand up to metal shavings. Then there is

            the question of software to drive it.

             

            3v0

             

            Morgan Leijström wrote:

            Nice project.

             

            Another more rigid way to do this i think is to etch a thin brass sheet

            like you etch the cirquit board.

             

            For the material go to http://www1.business.conrad.de/

            and in Artikelnummernsuche enter 529060 and press enter.

             

             

            Another idea also pops up: is the machine rigid enough to swap the knife

            for a mill to route the board.  And maybe change to drill to drill it...?

             

            1 of 1 people found this helpful