Etching your own copper panels

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Blog series by splintergroup updated 11-02-2016 06:57 PM 6 parts 11614 reads 28 comments total

Part 1: Intro.

10-25-2016 07:28 PM by splintergroup | 7 comments »

I’ve been meaning to do this tutorial for some time now, so let it begin…. Etched panels add another dimension to woodworking projects. The great thing is you can create a panel with most any image, no “talent” required. Some examples of copper. The first image has the copper cleaned and then protected with lacquer, the next two have a patina applied before sealing. You can use most any material, if you can find a way to etch it. Metals are a no-br...

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Part 2: Process Summary

10-28-2016 07:54 PM by splintergroup | 4 comments »

I’ll give the entire process a quick summary here an then show the details with an actual project. Be aware that there are plenty of ways to accomplish this process, do a web search on “making PC boards” or something similar. I’ve used a number of methods when I was young. Most worked ok, but mostly they had the benefit of being cheap! The Resist: To etch copper with a pattern, you want some method of keeping the etchant away from the areas you don’t ...

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Part 3: Making the Image Mask

10-31-2016 06:16 PM by splintergroup | 4 comments »

Welcome back! Please post a comment if there is anything you want clarified or if you have any questions/comments.At the end of the following posts on the actual process, I’ll add a section on alternative methods/materials where appropriate. I also will try to include links to material sources and further info on techniques. Hopefully these links will stay around! The whole process begins with the image you want etched into the copper. This image can be most anything! The restr...

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Part 4: Applying the Resist

10-31-2016 09:30 PM by splintergroup | 2 comments »

This is where the path forks in many directions. There are plenty of ways/materials to use here so don’t be afraid to look! Especially check out the ‘Alternatives’ at the end. I use a suspicious blue goo from some anonymous Ebay Chinese source. It works well and is inexpensive compared to other methods. Only down side is the 3-4 weeks it takes for delivery. The ResistNegative photo resist is a paint applied to the bare copper surface on the panel. Wherever the resist ...

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Part 5: Exposing and Developing

11-01-2016 07:34 PM by splintergroup | 3 comments »

So now I have an image mask and a copper plated panel with a layer of dried photo resist. Next up is to get the image onto the copper by exposing it to the proper light. The LightDifferent brands/types of photo resist require different wavelengths or colors of light to activate. I don’t know of any that do not require Ultra Violet (UV) light. Withing the UV spectrum are several “bands” of color, most notably are the UV-A and UV-B bands. UV-A is the spectrum the resist ...

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Part 6: Etch and Finish

11-02-2016 06:57 PM by splintergroup | 8 comments »

Here we are with a etching acid resist applied to the PCB: Next step….. EtchingSimply stated, the etching process needs to remove any copper that is not protected by the resist applied during the previous steps. Copper is very reactive to acids. Traditionally the primary chemical used for PCB manufacturing was Ferric Chloride (FeCl3). I have a “stash” of this stuff from the 1980’s. It works well, but I’ve noticed that it is fairly expensive now ($8/pint, po...

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