I have purposely avoided mentioning what particular DPCB machine I am using because I do not want anyone to mistakenly believe I have any association with the manufacturer. I want this blog to be about DPCB lessons, failures, and successes. If, someday, there are enough constructive comments to our blog posts, maybe, with your help, we would start comparing DPCB machines.
Because I have never personally used a desktop PCB milling machine, it is not possible for me to make comparisons beyond what we read in the data sheets.
Because I have only used one particular desktop PCB printing machine, I can not comment on its strengths or weaknesses.
So you may think I am dodging the question of machine choice. I hope not. I hope that if you follow along my journey to become proficient at DPCB that you will be able to consider what aspects of the technology are important for your needs.
So start entering your thoughts in your notebook now. And continue entering your thoughts as you read more about our adventures. Then when it is time for you to create a budget for your DPCB process, you will have the criteria for a decision right there in your notebook.
Plus, when the manager or accountant asks you why you want to spend $$ more on a particular machine, you can explain that the $$ machine will not meet your needs.
If you have experience with 2 or more different DPCB machines, then I, and all of our site visitors, would truly appreciate your comments. I think it is fine to compare mechanical milling, laser milling, and various conductive ink printing, at this time. Lets just hold off on comparing brands of similar technologies for the moment.
If you have questions, please feel free to make a comment below. Perhaps I am already working on a blog post that will answer them. Perhaps your question is one that I have not yet had myself.
Let me start with this list of considerations and invite your suggestions to enhance or complete it.
- Annual volume of DPCBs to be produced
- Maximum size of DPCBs to be produced
- Do I really need 3-layer capability, or will single or double sided work for me?
- Will the ability to drill matter in my designs?
- How much time will re-flow save me?
- Is noise a consideration?
- Maximum budget (hard limit)
- How many engineers / technicians in my company will initially be using a DPCB machine?
- What is the cost of a failure? (traditional etched PCBs are a known reliability and known time and costs.)
- What is the smallest size surface mount component I must use? (Can you use larger capacitors for your test? Do you really need 0402 size?)