Electronics > Manufacturing & Assembly

using scrapbooking stencil cutters for inexpensive stencil makers?

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I've been wondering about what it takes to do solder paste stencils.  I've seen some offerings for pretty low cost, I admit, but do any of you make your own?  Could you do something like use a scrapbooking stencil cutter machine with overhead transparency sheets to make solder stencils?  Granted I haven't done a lot of digging here and at $400 for the cutter it sounds like you'd have to make a lot of stencils to justify it...

here's some examples of what I was talking about http://www.scrapbookscrapbook.com/scrapbook-die-cut-machines-info.html.  I figured someone might have already given some thought about it.

Edit: I should probably qualify this by stating that I have zero experience with using solder paste or stencils.  All the soldering I've ever done has been by hand.

Okay, I just ran across this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=HfSpRO1WGVk#t=394s from the Melbourne mini maker faire and it looks like what I'm talking about - a compact personal stencil cutter.  However, I haven't been able to find any relevant links to a "squarebit" - just pages and pages of Robertson drivers.  Can anyone identify the equipment there and/or its purpose?

The cost is hard to justify. If you have that budget, you can  probably afford to order laser cut stencils.

0.005" gauge brass shim (.127mm) is pretty cheap - I bought a roll of 6" x 100" for $20 or $30 - I cannot remember the exact cost now.

Then you can etch it like PCB's to make a solder paste stencil. Use a toner transfer on one side. mask the other side and etch in PCB etchant.

I think I saw this mentioned on hackaday or somewhere in passing. General consensus was its not worth it unless you already have a machine kicking around.

Jon Chandler:
There were a couple programs to cut SVG files on the Cricut and Cricut Expression cutters.  I brought one of the Cricut Expressions to use with this software for around $100 but didn't buy the software right away.  When I looked for the software several months later, it had been pulled from the internet as a result of threatened lawsuits from the Cricut manufacturer.

The Cricut machine is a bit like a razor handle - they sell the machine at a loss and sell the shape cartridges at a huge markup.   Without the banned software, the machine can only cut the shapes in the cartridge.

The manufacturer claims all sorts of intellectual property rights around what is essentially a stepper-motor-driven x-y plotter.  They'll huff and puff and blow your house down if you make any other use of the machine.

I've considered tossing their stepper motor drivers and adding my own to use this now worthless piece of junk.  The manufacturer even makes threats about doing this....


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