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Dr.H 22nd August 2005 06:51 AM

Easiest way to cut PCB's?
Hello all

Which method do you use to cut your PCB's. Mine are made of a material similar to fibreglass and they are therefore relatively tough.

Methods I have tried:

1. Score with a stanleyknife and then break-takes a long time to do this....

2. Use an angle-grinder (!!)-very effective/fast, but generates lots of dust (!!).

Any other easy, clean methods?

mangrovejack 22nd August 2005 07:21 AM

A Guillotine is the easiest.

You could also use a hacksaw or a Dremel with cutting disc to cut it. ( I use the Dremel route for my boards and it works fine). Just give it a bit of sandpapering afterwards for a nice straight smooth line (provided you can cut straight with the dremel).

BWRX 22nd August 2005 07:33 AM

Score a straight cut line with a utlity knife then cut with a hack saw along the line and sand edge smooth. Kind of a compromise between the score and break and dremel methods. Some dust (not a lot airborne), fairly fast, and a nice straight edge.

AudioWizard 22nd August 2005 02:48 PM

I concur, a guillotine is the best tool you can use for that.

The problem is that it's a bit expensive. You can try one of those office guillotines, but you'll need to get one that can cut through at least 2 mm of paper. The blade is going to need resharpened on a regular basis, since fiberglass is very hard on tools. I've heard some people use an office guillotine with good success. Of course, if you need a professional tool, there are expensive guillotines that can cut through metal as well. Pretty handy to make metal cases and such.

I've used a Dremel tool with a cutting disc before. It works well, but it's hard to guide it in a perfectly straight line; besides, it generates a lot of dust and it's a bit dangerous too (once, I've had the disc explode while cutting; fortunately I always cut so as not to be in the direction of the disc. The bits hit the wall pretty violently.)

Some people also use some kind of rotating saw (that's normally used to cut ceramic tiling pieces. Apparently it works well, but you'll lose more material since the cutting line is pretty wide. On the other hand, it's fast, tough and you can get one of those for pretty cheap.

mzzj 22nd August 2005 03:20 PM

Guillotine works best, but is not cheapest possible, maybe around 50usd/eur. Tin scissors are 10 times cheaper alternative, but dont produce as nice results.

For 0.8mm glass-fiber laminate ordinary Fiskars scissors do, but dont stole your wife's precious sewing scissors :D

TwoSpoons 23rd August 2005 04:17 AM

DON"T use a bandsaw. Fibreglass pcb will destroy a bandsaw blade in seconds.

Unless you have a cheap source of new blades, that is! :D

Wombat2 23rd August 2005 05:35 AM

I've used the guillotine at work (after hours when no one is watching :D ) but the last batch of boards are very tough and I can't hold them firm enough and they "wonder" under the blade and give a rotten cut. I have cut the last couple using a hacksaw and finish off with some emery paper.

K-amps 26th August 2005 08:35 PM

If I try the guillotine or Tin scissors, won't I break the PCB?

AudioWizard 26th August 2005 08:53 PM

One thing to consider if your PCB isn't too large (or doesn't have any heavy component) is to use 0.032" thick boards instead of the standard 0.064". Much easier to cut (and easier on the drilling bits too). You can cut these with no problems with an office guillotine.

AuroraB 26th August 2005 09:20 PM

and in what is the shape of the office guillotine after cutting???
Fiber glass is an excellent abrasive,- better than most...

If you don't have any means of guillotine cutting- or similar- scribe the board deeply on both sides with a sharp knife ,- ( Stanley knife..) -break- and file edges clean. --or just use a hack saw and file clean.. and .032 boards is just too flimsy for my taste, for serious work,- in terms of mechanical stability..............

Just believe me--- i have worked with this stuff for over 30 years.....

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