PCB prototyping idea

I was in a craft shop today and one of these was being demonstrated

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I got the demonstrator to try it out on 0.05mm thick copper foil. It worked very well on parallel lines 0.3mm spacing and letters where the vertical body of letters wer of qwerty were 2mm high and extra curveyness of the "fun" script cut out and came through perfectly well. It would have gone smaller I'm sure but that was the minimum she could go to on her tablet and typeface. She was so impressed she emailed a pic the engineering department of that company. Machine is roller feed of flat sheet. Requires firm , more than stick-it note, bonding of the foil to a backing or the foil will tear. The cutter was not new, a few months of about 22 hours a day use, often left running overnight for multiple outputs, like 3D printer operation.

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A generalized term for this type of machine is a CSR, a Computerized Signmaking Robot. A common use for them is to cut vinyl film to make signs that can be stuck on cars, windows or anywhere else you like.

I once wrote a converter to convert HPGL to a CSR's propriety language. Many machines accept HPGL directly. To the computer, they will then look like a plotter. That means you must feed it vector graphics. Bitmaps will need to go through a process called tracing before you can output them to the cutter.

If I remember right, the knives were quite expensive.

If I were to buy a CSR, I would find out if it accepts a standard language. If it does not, it will only work with the vendor's own software, which may not suit your needs. I have seen software that had its own proprietary format for fonts. You could not use TTF, and the font packages were, of course, blindingly expensive.

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Robert Roland

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