If you are soldering with paste, a stencil makes life a lot easier. Sure, you can apply paste by hand with a syringe, but a modern PCB might have hundreds or even thousands of pads. Like a lot of us, [Robert Kirberich] doesn’t like paying to have stencils made and he wondered if he could use his 3D printer to make stencils. He found the answer was yes.
[Robert] uses a hot plate to do soldering and Python to build the application to convert two Gerber files into an STL that will cause your printer to produce a workable stencil. Obviously, the thickness of the stencil has to be at least the minimum layer height of your printer. If you use Eagle, [Robert] has a script to help you, but any Gerber files of the board outline and the paste layer should work.
You can find the files on GitHub, or you can use the application on the Web. The Python code converts the Gerbers into .scad files processed by OpenSCAD. If you prefer tin cans to plastic, we’ve got you covered. You can even use beer cans if you like. If you haven’t used a solder stencil before, you might enjoy the video from SparkFun, below.