Most people start their electronics designs on prototyping breadboards. That’s great for quick connections and easy troubleshooting, but should only be temporary. For a permanent device, you may choose to use a strip board or perf board. But, those have downsides of their own and hardly look professional. What you really want is an actual PCB, and Thomas Sanladerer will show you how to mill one with a Sienci CNC router in his newest video.
With the low cost of professional PCB fabrication these days, it’s easy to get nice boards delivered right to your door. But, that can still take weeks and it’s relatively expensive if you’re not ordering those PCBs in bulk. This is a nice alternative you can use to mill circuit boards at home whenever you want. In this video, Sanladerer explains the process with a Sienci Mill One CNC router, but the steps should be similar for any CNC router you may have access to.
The first step is to design your PCB in software like Autodesk Eagle or KiCAD. Once you have your design, you can export it as a set of Gerber files. With those, you can create toolpaths that the CNC router will follow to cut out your PCB. Sanladerer used FlatCAM for that step, but you may need to use other CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) software if your CNC router doesn’t work with FlatCAM.
When you create your toolpaths, you’ll need to pay attention to the size of the end mill you’re using to cut out the board — it needs to be small enough to actually cut out all of your PCB traces. Then, you can export your toolpaths as G-code that’s readable by the CNC router. All you have to do after that is attach your end mill, and start the milling! It may take a few tries and some fine-tuning, but you’ll be left with a nice-looking PCB that will take your project to the next level.