Duct tape fixes everything!

So after milling a pocket in MDF to secure a copper clad board. It was clear that this wan’t a good option for what I need. The moment the CNC router started milling the copper the board would vibrate loose. I haven’t given up con the idea yet, but I am eager to create some PCBs!

Isolation milling a copper clad board with a CNC 3020

First attempt of Isolation milling a copper clad board

So, this time I decided to use good old duct tape. By taping all four edges to a bed of clamped MDF, the copper board was stuck fast.

The copper board is 160x100mm, which is the maximum dimensions I can design to using my licence of Eagle Cad. Now Eagle on it’s own is not enough to produce the designs to pass to Mach 3 (CNC Control software). I found a free plugin called PCB-GCODE which enables you to export a ‘Gcode’ file. The Gcode file is what Mach 3 requires to plot the CNC machine, it’s the milling program.

As this attempt wasn’t good enough, I didn’t drill the holes. However the PCB-GCODE plugin does produce the program to dill. Next time I hope to show it finished!

I will post the process of exporting the design from Eagle CAD to Mach 3 and the milling/drilling in another article soon!

Anyway, here is a video of my first attempt at isolation milling a copper clad board to produce a PCB.

Result after milling using the PCB-Gcode method

Result after milling

VIDEO UPDATE – Check out the second attempt! 

Please feel free to leave comments below!

  • http://Learntosolder.org Randy

    I’ve had the best luck using double sided carpet tape directly on a piece of MDF spoil board to hold down the copper clad. Thanks for reviewing the 3020 mills. I’m using a Taig right now, but it is borrowed and I need to find a longer term solution. At $800 US, these are looking tempting.

    • http://makerflux.com/members/myfrog/ Steven Pearson

      Hi Randy, welcome to GeekBoy.it and thanks for taking the time to leave your feedback! Using double sided sounds like a great idea, it would stop the centre rising and keep it quite secure. I will definitely give it a go. I will post more on my blog as I use it more. if you have any questions, please feel free to ask if it helps you :) Steve

    • http://makerflux.com/members/myfrog/ Steven Pearson

      Hi Randy, I just made a new video showing the end-to-end process using carpet tape to secure the PCB in the MDF pocket. It works great, I am so please you suggested it, the result is simple and very good… Cheers!

  • Randy

    Glad to here it! I ended up with a 3040 ball screw router. Need to set up a spoil board for it.

  • steve hamlin

    i need someone to method program my 3020 cnc its for engraving simple words on electrical plastic switches i e WASHING MACHINE , FRIDGE FREEZER ect can u help

  • http://www.curiousglenn.co.cc/ Glenn Lopez

    How did you get your 3020 CNC to NOT mill too far into the pcb as to cut through it unless its a hole? Theres not a lot of instructions I found for milling PCB