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How NOT to Mill a PCB (except for SMD)

How NOT to Mill a PCB (except for SMD)

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In this video I will show you how to create a milled PCB for your electronics projects. Along the way I will demonstrate why creating milled PCBs for THT components is not that useful. On the other hand though, I will also demonstrate that creating milled PCBs for SMD components can be very useful. Let's get started!

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  1. Date: October 15, 2017 at 13:38
    Author: GreatScott!

    Anyone interested in a review of such a "cheap" CNC machine from China?

  2. Date: October 27, 2017 at 09:42
    Author: itanc1

    I am a huge fan of pcb milling.    I bought a £600 4 axis machine from china which did take about a week of overhauling to make it function (configure for linuxcnc, add limit switches, replace the appealing excuse for a spindle etc).   The bed was extruded aluminium and not very flat so I added a 3/4" piece of mdf held down with recessed roofing bolts.   I then milled the entire work area with a dremel milling bit in the spindle to create a sacrificial but very flat surface.   I hold down the copper clad board with double sided tape and as long as i am careful to avoid ripples in the tape the top of the board is parallel with the bed.   i do not use auto levelling.   i have installed it but I stopped using it because firstly it is time consuming but more crucially if something goes wrong during the milling (like a broken tip) you cannot re-probe as there is a chance that it will probe into an already cut area which will result in no electrical contact and therefore will carry on driving the spindle into the board with very unhappy results.

    I use eagle and pcbgcode.   both these applications are good but not without fairly steep learning curves especially for those of us who prefer mac to pc (i think anyway)

    I have found that the supply of copper clad board is also a factor.   I recently purchased 10 small boards from eBay and half of them snapped successive milling bits as soon as they touched it but when running the same program on the same machine on the same day with a new bit from the same pack it worked fine thus I deduce that not all copper clad boards are equal.   I will from now on use only trusted sources (g00fie on is my current goto place for this and other electronic stuff)

    in short I conclude that milling can be made to work extremely well but is quite a delicate operation.

  3. Date: October 29, 2017 at 00:35

    hey i enjoy ur videos but what software do you use to make the schematic and wiring diagrams

  4. Date: October 30, 2017 at 11:38
    Author: Richard Sauer

    You need a friction table for better results, I had the same issue you did . I made my own with a 8mm aluminium plate cutting recess with the same measurements as my blank pcb board, and used grease underneath the board and aluminium to push out any air which can be cleaned off with alcohol after the machining is done. Hopes this helps…

  5. Date: October 30, 2017 at 14:03

    so, if your cnc is creating the board, you don't have to stand there and look at it, you can do something else.
    So for those 2 hours for milling and drilling you could jack off to some traps and call it a day.

  6. Date: November 1, 2017 at 19:50
    Author: Nikola Nejedlý

    I believe that it should be very possible to make a "cnc" machine only for this purpose pretty cheap. But it would require to make your own software. Still – if target is to make a pcb milling machine, it should be pretty simple. X,Y movement, depth(Z) only a little, with height control, which could be simply a microswitch to check if we are touching the board in the depth we want and so we always have the same depth that we calibrated with the height switch. Also there could easily be a secondary head to just drill the small holes for you.

    You'd use it pretty easily, just make a png, load it, black lines are traces, boom, it mills them, then it goes for points you clicked in the software and there ya go. It makes the whole board for you.

    That would be a great project to see. I mean – I planned to do this, but I have no money, nor time to invest right now… So I might do such a thing in like a year, or more. So it would be pretty awesome to see you do such a thing and i believe everyone would find it interesting!! 🙂

  7. Date: November 5, 2017 at 03:27
    Author: David Johnston

    If it's milled, it's hardly printed. So it should be an MCB instead of a PCB.

  8. Date: November 5, 2017 at 12:17
    Author: Boss Man

    i uploaded a Gerbil into my ass folder. took just under 3.5 hours

  9. Date: November 6, 2017 at 00:02
    Author: Wolfin

    I think for small amounts of prototyping you're much better off with UV exposure masks and etching. Cheaper startup cost, quicker, no mucking about with Z-level or replacing expensive mill bits.
    That said, if you already have a CNC, why not use it, right? Maybe a compromise would be using a laser module on the CNC (with Z level locked to focus on the surface) to burn off some black spraypaint, and etching that. I imagine you could get incredibly small feature width that way with enough practice and fine-tuning.

    Googled for a guide, found this from 2008: Ctrl+F "Garrett", 2nd comment from him has more details.

  10. Date: November 6, 2017 at 12:38
    Author: Acecool

    What site do you visit for $2 pcbs ( each or more than 1? )? I spend about $15 for 10 to 11 5cm x 5cm but need to order all 10 each time…

  11. Date: November 7, 2017 at 01:20
    Author: Michael Rinkle

    Dear GreatScott!, I have received my "0.1 mm engraving bits" and shall proceed with a small PCB SMD test on my 3-in-1 WanHao/PowerSpec/Duplicator i3 v2 to see how the 3D printed Flex Shaft Dremel attachment will handle the milling process. I suspect that even with the Z and Y braces, there will not be enough rigidity in the frame for this task. However, with the Y-axis alignment mod and printer bed braces ( to keep the bed still with CNC operations like "scratch-engraving" or CNC drilling") I was able to successfully produce a 2 layer PCB 14 x 16cm with ±0.25 mm accuracy across the PCB (X-axis). Used my 3D printer to CNC drill the through-holes and 0.5 mm VIA's (416 holes in all!). I also used my 3D printer to "engrave" the traces with isolation "routing" using a spring loaded sharpened steel 8mm rod salvaged from an old inkjet. I have wanted to try also the milling approach with this setup and shall soon do so. I shall also produce a video about this subject using a 3D printer as also a CNC drill/mill/laser engraver( or cutter).

  12. Date: November 7, 2017 at 12:00
    Author: James Stevens

    I have one of those cheap chinese machines. It's first job was to cut replacement parts for the slightly larger cheap machine I bought at the same time. I've used it with FlatCam and Chilipepr with varying success, mostly due to needing to buy more bits. Auto-leveling is time consuming but worth it and easy to implement.

  13. Date: November 7, 2017 at 16:14
    Author: kishor raut

    Can you tell name of PCB software, hardware, CNC milling details used in video?

  14. Date: November 8, 2017 at 21:28
    Author: Leo Ix

    I thought… this was…
    wtf youtube algorithm

  15. Date: November 8, 2017 at 21:38
    Author: Pulsarstunes

    My solution to do this using a cheap chinese CNC machine is simple: use a cylindrical drill bit instead of an angled one, and make it cut about 0.5mm into the board. That way you will always drill into the copper, no matter how uneven the surface is, and the traces will not become wider or smaller depending on how deep the drill bit goes in. Makes for a very repeatable solution.

  16. Date: November 11, 2017 at 07:32
    Author: Axelios

    Very good! I'm glad to see your video on PCB milling

  17. Date: November 12, 2017 at 21:21
    Author: erica

    But I wanna mill mah own circuts for fun!

  18. Date: November 13, 2017 at 00:28
    Author: Mark Giblin

    Yes, milling machines are from the videos I have seen a case of buyer beware. Some kits are priced to fit all budgets but like the saying goes, "you get what you pay for"

  19. Date: November 27, 2017 at 16:22
    Author: whitebird

    All your videos is really wonderful my friend.. I learned much from you thank you again.. I wish you more Success and happiness..
    Thank you

  20. Date: November 28, 2017 at 18:44
    Author: 321ooo123

    I do through-hole PCBs for my projects with a CNC mill, because I don't have the patience to wait professional manufacturers for two weeks. With pcb-probe software (free command-line auto-level utility), the results are pretty decent. A quick brush with a sandpaper is all that it takes to finish it. I think at 80 mm/min your feedrate is way too slow. I do mine at 24000 rpm and 300 mm/min. Two passes are enough, which for a board of 50×100 mm is ~10 minutes. Add 1-2 minutes for the drilling (also done by the mill), and it's quite faster than anything I can achieve on a perfboard. I do my designs in Eagle and g-code is generated by pcb-gcode Eagle plug-in.

  21. Date: December 5, 2017 at 14:37
    Author: robert karas

    1. It took you 3.5 hours because you lack experience. If you were to solder THT for the first time in your life it would easily take you way more then 3 hours. Its like comparing a veteran chef cutting ham by hand, vs a inexperienced chef cutting ham by machine.
    2. Why are you including the milling process as your time? While its milling you can do something else. You dont have to stay there and watch.

  22. Date: December 6, 2017 at 11:25
    Author: DERMOT UPTON

    @ 5.50 mins this video shows the PCB cost. Can you post a link of the manufacturer you used for a price?

  23. Date: December 10, 2017 at 16:13
    Author: Przemek Potyra

    1. Use better bits. They will not tear copper and leave clean cut surface.
    2. Use autoleveller and auto Z zero feature.
    3. You can mill pcbs with 500 feedrate.
    4. Mill with 0.1 depth.

  24. Date: December 15, 2017 at 00:56
    Author: I Felici

    I think CNC PCB milling is like any other CNC machining. Trial and Error.

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