etch your own pcb

We assume that you already placed your schematic design onto a copper board and are now ready to etch it.

Note: While knowing how to etch by using your hands is most definitely a skill, understand that when it comes to precision and tolerances, you will be limited (why its an automated step in industry).

Why etch

Depending on the substrate, you have a variety of etchant solutions that will chemically remove copper from the substrate, which in general is a composite of epoxy and fiber glass known as FR4. Two common solutions are Ferric Chloride and Cupric Chloride, essentially what ever solution that reacts and bonds with the copper atoms works as an etchant solution (i.e. removing copper from the FR4 board).

Working with these chemicals, requires precaution

  • Always use gloves, and be prepared to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting stained.
  • Do not pour down any chemical solution, ever. Chemicals should always be neutralized before disposing. Read all labels.

How it works

As your substrate is being chemically attacked by whichever solution that you are using, it changes the local chemical stoichiometry, which affects the rate of reaction. Temperature aka  Energy, also affects the rate of reaction. These two variables, will either give you a uniform surface where the physics of how electrons move are well understood (i.e. very important if your schematic relies on the fundamental laws of Maxwell’s equations).

Why it matters

What your trying to avoid is the following:

This is due to

  • High chemical temperature
  • Strength of etchant solution
  • Excessive etching time

Prinsta’s Apollo

Prinsta has solved this issue with Apollo, the worlds first smart etching tank. Click the link to see more of what Apollo can do for you.