Author Topic: Clean Way to Cut FR4 PCB  (Read 27664 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline bruce0126Topic starter

  • Newbie
  • Posts: 3
  • Country: us
Clean Way to Cut FR4 PCB
« on: January 24, 2016, 09:23:49 am »
Hi,

Can anyone share their experience on cutting FR4 PCBs?  Trying to see if there's a good way to have a clean cut (smooth PCB edges as well as minimal dust).

Thanks,
Bruce
 
The following users thanked this post: ianxtreem

Online Psi

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 10085
  • Country: nz
Re: Clean Way to Cut FR4 PCB
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2016, 09:43:29 am »
try a good pair of tin snips
Greek letter 'Psi' (not Pounds per Square Inch)
 

Offline sleemanj

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3030
  • Country: nz
  • Professional tightwad.
    • The electronics hobby components I sell.
Re: Clean Way to Cut FR4 PCB
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2016, 09:59:47 am »
I use one of these:

http://www.bunnings.co.nz/trojan-laminate-cutter-195mm_p00242200




Along with a couple of steel rulers mounted to a piece of wood as a cutting jig.  The laminate cutter has a carbide tip on each end, a couple drags of that on each side and snap the board.

« Last Edit: January 24, 2016, 10:05:18 am by sleemanj »
~~~
EEVBlog Members - get yourself 10% discount off all my electronic components for sale just use the Buy Direct links and use Coupon Code "eevblog" during checkout.  Shipping from New Zealand, international orders welcome :-)
 
The following users thanked this post: ianxtreem

Offline matseng

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 563
  • Country: se
    • My Github
Re: Clean Way to Cut FR4 PCB
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2016, 10:05:14 am »
Use 0.8mm instead of the regular 1.6mm.  Two scores with a box cutter on each side and it snaps effortlessly apart.
 

Offline IanJ

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 1664
  • Country: scotland
  • Full time EE & Youtuber
    • IanJohnston.com
Re: Clean Way to Cut FR4 PCB
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2016, 11:32:58 am »
Back in the day we used to cut with a small bench top guillotine and edge sand afterwards.

Ian.


Hi,

Can anyone share their experience on cutting FR4 PCBs?  Trying to see if there's a good way to have a clean cut (smooth PCB edges as well as minimal dust).

Thanks,
Bruce
Ian Johnston - Original designer of the PDVS2mini || Author of the free WinGPIB app.
Website - www.ianjohnston.com
YT Channel (electronics repairs & projects): www.youtube.com/user/IanScottJohnston, Twitter (X): https://twitter.com/IanSJohnston
 

Online tautech

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 28890
  • Country: nz
  • Taupaki Technologies Ltd. Siglent Distributor NZ.
    • Taupaki Technologies Ltd.
Re: Clean Way to Cut FR4 PCB
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2016, 11:35:34 am »
Hi,

Can anyone share their experience on cutting FR4 PCBs?  Trying to see if there's a good way to have a clean cut (smooth PCB edges as well as minimal dust).

Thanks,
Bruce
Welcome to the forum.

Serious hobbyists might use a PCB guillotine like these:
http://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?catId=0&initiative_id=SB_20160124032323&SearchText=pcb+guillotine

You might try a sturdy paper guillotine for infrequent use.  :-\

I have used a wood plane to tidy up a ragged hacksaw cut in the past.  |O

Or any of the above replies.

Avid Rabid Hobbyist.
Siglent Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@SiglentVideo/videos
 

Offline poorchava

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1672
  • Country: pl
  • Troll Cave Electronics!
Re: Clean Way to Cut FR4 PCB
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2016, 11:43:22 am »
High RPM (30k) rotary tool with serrated edge 6-flute carbide milling cutter. Dremel will do, but carbide bits don't like vibrations. CNC or some other rigid setup is preferred.

Sent from my HTC One M8s using Tapatalk.

I love the smell of FR4 in the morning!
 
The following users thanked this post: ianxtreem

Offline T3sl4co1l

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 21966
  • Country: us
  • Expert, Analog Electronics, PCB Layout, EMC
    • Seven Transistor Labs
Re: Clean Way to Cut FR4 PCB
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2016, 02:28:30 pm »
Tin snips.  I have a pair from Harbor Freight which are amazingly serviceable (cast aluminum handles, hardened steel blades).  Quick and relatively dirty: the cut is something of a mess (the laminate is frayed in the process), and the material is bent and has to be straightened out.

Hacksaw.  Use a blade with enough teeth so that > 2 teeth are in the cut at any time.  For common 1.6mm board, a blade of 32 TPI (8 TPcm?) will do.  You can always cut at an angle so the cut is longer, which helps for thinner stock.

The saw leaves saw marks (depending on how stable you are with a hacksaw), which take a while to sand down, but the edge is relatively undisturbed, and the stock is not bent up.

In both cases, a smooth, clean edge is had by sanding with SiC (wet-or-dry) sandpaper.

Sawing is good for boards that have components on them, or where you want to inspect the contents -- I recently sectioned a multilayer board in this way, which was interesting (it appears to be a build-up type assembly, which is interesting because the 'core' is as thin as any prepreg layers on top).

Tim
Seven Transistor Labs, LLC
Electronic design, from concept to prototype.
Bringing a project to life?  Send me a message!
 

Offline MrSlack

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 880
  • Country: gb
Re: Clean Way to Cut FR4 PCB
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2016, 03:29:41 pm »
Score both sides with a stanley knife and safety edged metal ruler. Bend, snap. Use wet and dry paper on a flat surface and move the board rather than the paper. Comes out nice clean edges and not much dust. Make sure you wet the paper.
 

Offline KL27x

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4108
  • Country: us
Re: Clean Way to Cut FR4 PCB
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2016, 08:24:12 pm »
I have used a lot of those methods. I'll add a few more.

1. Tile cutting saw. The low end saws cost less than $100.00.

pro's: cheap, fast, easy, no heating/fumes/airborne dust, smooth edges. Tile cutting diamond blade lasts forever; they do not dull or slow down over time; they wear down and reveal new teeth, constantly, and the original crappy blade on the lowest end saw can cut a metric ton of FR4; you will not need a replacement in your lifetime. Did I mention fast? They are made to cut ceramic tiles. You can cut a stack of 10 boards on a tile saw and you will hardly feel resistance.

cons: filling/emptying the water, noise/vibration, water spray. Large kerf. Fence on some saws not great for thin pcb's. Straight lines only or "removal" grinding of notches/corners. It's a little nerve racking with the spinning blade, even though a diamond saw can't really cut your fingers off without a lot of pain killers and motivation/intent. The blade is basically smooth/toothless to anything that is not hard/rigid.

2. What I use anymore is a Proxxon rotary tool in a custom DIY mini router table. The angle of the tool/cutter can be adjusted. I use a carbide end mill tilted to 45 degrees to score a 90 degree V either partway to score, or even all the way through the board in one go. Afterwards, you can square and shape edges with the cutter set to 90 degrees, easily (but usually just a few quick rubs on sandpaper is sufficient for straight edges). But making that first plunge into FR4, the 45 degree tilt makes it effortless to advance the board against a fence with bare hands, smooth like butter, straight as an arrow, and fast fast fast. And Proxxon rotary tools are super quiet.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2016, 08:48:32 pm by KL27x »
 
The following users thanked this post: genghisnico13

Offline Farley

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 88
  • Country: us
Re: Clean Way to Cut FR4 PCB
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2016, 08:48:30 pm »
W2AEW posted a video a couple of years ago with some suggestions for cutting FR4:

 

Offline KJDS

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2442
  • Country: gb
    • my website holding page
Re: Clean Way to Cut FR4 PCB
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2016, 08:49:59 pm »
Score both sides with a stanley knife and safety edged metal ruler. Bend, snap. Use wet and dry paper on a flat surface and move the board rather than the paper. Comes out nice clean edges and not much dust. Make sure you wet the paper.

This is what I've always done. No point in buying another tools, though I do have assorted tinsnips, but I'd rather keep those for metal.

Offline KL27x

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4108
  • Country: us
Re: Clean Way to Cut FR4 PCB
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2016, 08:54:50 pm »
A knife works fine, but if you want to manually score, really you guys should check out the double-headed carbide cutter sleemanj posted. It's available at any hardware store, and the angle is made for manually scoring laminate. It will cut long "peels" of FR-4 out of the board, making a perfect V-groove. It's completely rigid (it won't wander back and forth and/or cut your wooden clamps), and it doesn't dull like a knife blade. It will lay flat against a thick guide/clamp, unlike a box cutter that had a big housing next to the tip. Instead of angling the knife blade to get it on the guide, you just lay the entire thing flat/parallel to the guide, and the groove occurs a little away from the clamp/guide. It's probably a lot safer, too, especially considering the ergos and angle.

If you clamp things down tight, you can get a deep V score in 2 or 3 passes. If your setup is rigid enough, you could probably cut clean through the board, if you wanted to work at it. A steel knife is only scratching at the tip. A carbide cutter is cutting all the way along either edge in a V.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2016, 09:18:02 pm by KL27x »
 

Offline Alexei.Polkhanov

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 684
  • Country: ca
Re: Clean Way to Cut FR4 PCB
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2016, 09:59:04 pm »
I think you guys make things complicated when it does not have to be. I use this thing and it works perfectly for FR4 and Rogers every time, clean cut. 1.6, 2 mm 2.8 mm anything. Maybe except brittle, cheap plastic laminate, but I never tried.
 

Offline rob77

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2085
  • Country: sk
Re: Clean Way to Cut FR4 PCB
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2016, 10:24:03 pm »
proxxon ks230  micro circular saw - works like a charm using regular vacuum cleaner as dust extraction. it's a very compact and silent circular saw.

the cuts are extremely clean and smooth - you can't beat it with a guillotine or scoring and snapping the boards.
 

Online tautech

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 28890
  • Country: nz
  • Taupaki Technologies Ltd. Siglent Distributor NZ.
    • Taupaki Technologies Ltd.
Avid Rabid Hobbyist.
Siglent Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@SiglentVideo/videos
 

Offline kwass

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 347
  • Country: us
Re: Clean Way to Cut FR4 PCB
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2016, 11:04:56 pm »
Hi,

Can anyone share their experience on cutting FR4 PCBs?  Trying to see if there's a good way to have a clean cut (smooth PCB edges as well as minimal dust).

Thanks,
Bruce

I use a jewler's saw like this one:  http://www.amazon.com/SE-Professional-Jewelers-Without-Blades/dp/B00313Q46M/ref=sr_1_2?s=arts-crafts&ie=UTF8&qid=1453762984&sr=1-2&keywords=jewlers+saw

with relatively course (for a jewler) blades from a set like this one: http://www.amazon.com/SE-815JSB-114-Piece-Jewelers-Piercing/dp/B002Q8886C

With a bit of care you can get extremely precise cuts and even if you're sloppy you'll have very little dust.
-katie
 

Offline pez.diSpencer

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 12
  • Country: us
Re: Clean Way to Cut FR4 PCB
« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2023, 02:47:57 am »
Adding my 2 cents to an old thread... Wanna give an upvote to the tile cutter suggestion above.

For cutting thick fr4 (3mm), I've had great success with a cheap tile cutter from harbor freight. The tabletop cutter is $60 and I use a fine glass/mosaic cutting wheel that cost about $15. Makes short and smooth work of long rip cuts for turret/eyelet boards. Leaves perfect, smooth edges, no sanding required, and no dust. Just gotta dump the water out wipe down the machine after. A pretty good investment if you're gonna be scratch building a few amplifiers.

Only con-- if your board extends off the drip table as you're making your cuts, water will spill off of the board. So just cut in an area that can get a little wet, or put a towel down.
 
The following users thanked this post: edavid


Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf