Easiest way to cut PCB's?

Dr.H

Member
2002-04-08 6:41 pm
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?
 
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

Member
2005-07-02 8:17 pm
65N 25E
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
 
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.
 
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.....
 
As Wombat2 says, guillotine cutters are self sharpening. You need the old fashioned kind with a heavy cast arm- the modern cheap ones are useless. I've used my old Premier for cutting PCBs for years, and it's none the worse for wear. I actually drilled a couple holes in it so I can mount a clamp bar. That way the material doesn't shift, and the fingers are safer.

No matter what you're cutting, try to distribute the cutting over the length of the blade. If all the cutting is done next to the guide, eventually the cutter won't cut a straight line because the lower blade wears nearest the pivot.
 
Guilotine is the last thing I would use...

I almost cried when I fetched the first batch of HRII PCBs form the fab house, as their scorer packed up, and they proceeded to guilotene the boards...

Sure it could be filed if it was a once off board, but I was not going to file over 100.. looks like a rat chewed the sides.... In fact I think I can do better with my tin shears (Big scissors made for cutting metal sheets)....

After lots of moaning I now get beatifully scored panels.

Oh and I am one up from you guys in useing dangerous methods...
My table saw for cutting DIY PCB (whe I can't find the shears).
 

OzMikeH

Member
2007-03-18 9:22 am
I used to use a guillotine when I was doing boards. Used to make at least a hundred at a time because we silk screened by hand and cleanup of the etch resistant paint from the screens was difficult.

cuts were nice and neat. We did take care to use the far end of the guillotine. the near end was for fine metal work.

have used tin snips for small boards, the guillotine was best though, you really do need a clamp on it.
 
Hello!

WHY do you think we have teeth?

I don't need no tools.

Tools are for Marys! LOL

All kidding aside, I measure 1 or 2 mm larger than I need. I score the copper several passes with a utility knife (new blade) with a straight edge as a guide. If you have a way to clamp the straight edge, even better. Then I cut it with the finest tooth hacksaw blade I can find (I told you I use my teeth) just over the waste side of the line.

Then I turn on my belt sander with a very fine sanding belt and lock the trigger on, I turn it upside down on the bench (mine sits flat) and hold the PCB to the belt on the flat surface at varying pressure until it looks like a professional cut.

Nico, this is what you needed to do with those 100 boards. It goes fast. Just wear a mask as the dust is very fine and can make its way to where it shouldn't be.

The belt sander is one of the best small adjustment tools ever designed!

BTW, I guess I am a Mary but I love my tools!

Regards//Keith