Rubber Stamping Your Way To Custom PCBs

Many of us now outsource PCB production to board houses overseas, which offer high-quality boards with increasingly impressive turnaround times. You might still brew up your own PCB, though, and a reader found this great old hack from [William Hare] that might be worth a look.

Forget toner transfer or marker pens — this build is all about speed. [William] decided to use a rubber stamp to quickly transfer ink to a copper board that can then be etched to produce a PCB. It’s simple and straightforward enough. We’ve used the same technique for silkscreen and pad art, but never as an etch resist.

The trick is to make several rubber stamps with different circuit elements, though. The genius part is that you can then assemble a PCB by simply stamping down the various circuit components you need. The boards will still need to be drilled if you’re working with through-hole parts, but tipster [Shri] notes that the technique is super useful for producing single-sided surface mount boards.

We’ve seen some other unique methods to producing PCBs at home, such as using a 3D printer to help out. If you’ve got your own innovative homebrew PCB hacks, be sure to drop us a line!

Thanks [Shri Hari Ram] for the tip!

22 thoughts on “Rubber Stamping Your Way To Custom PCBs

        1. Yeah i’m also a bit confused. I’m sure William Hare found a better way after 11 years, and for all i know of Shri Hari Ram could be fictious. Please elaborate on this – there must be a link missing somewhere?

          1. One possible improvement could be making generic stamps for sockets and connectors pins, so that one can stamp the hardest parts on the pcb, then connect them with the usual pen.

  1. I always thought the process to make metal hot-foil stamped business cards might be suitable for pcbs. Foil stamp copper, then stack some more card and soak the whole thing in resin to make it a pcb.

    1. I was thinking of separate stamps, too, but used in a CNC machine with an automatic tool changer. This would allow finer-grained positioning of the stamps and move the setup phase into software, which would make it easier to use existing EDA tools. I like both ideas, though.
      The modded Linotype would be epic, though.

  2. Got me thinking… print pattern on inkjet.. cut large potato in half, put on pattern, hopefully you get a nice ink transfer.. but that’s just your template, carve potato into stamp, apply the “serious” ink and stamp boards with it…

    Now then.. does there exist, a firm acidic vegetable, wherein you transfer a pattern to it, carve out the pattern, instead of around the pattern, sit it on coper clad board, then put the thing in a warm place like proving oven temp, 50-70C or so, such that the acid is active… hmmm… large baking apples?

    Thirdly, there are vegetables with photosensitive juices, so maybe don’t need to ink it, just “develop” the veggie juice print on the copper…

    Fourthly, if vegetables/fruits might be resistant to deterioration by things such as oxalic or strong acetic acids, maybe you could print that acid direct on them, maybe only enough acid to etch slightly though, get used up before it goes all the way through. Look into something more catalytic, that just gets the oxidation going and is pulling more in from the air to eat right through….. what’s that acid that wrecks a copper still quick if you have bad stock and run the temp wrong?

    Come on down, this rabbit hole is lovely, there’s a tea party and shit.

  3. In the seventies, a smallish company was promoting this. They sold the rubber stamp(s) and you used a Sharpie to connect the pads.

    I’m thinking the company had “Rainbow” in its name but maybe not. I think they appeared at hamfests, and sold tools or parts in addition to the stamping kit.

    When rubber stamps were big, Irecall you could pay for a custom stamp.

    1. So I was able to find a reference. In the June 1977 issue of 73 magazine, on page 178, there’s an article “New PC Techniques Unveiled”. It covers afew thinfs, but on page 180, it covers “Stamp and Etch it” from Rainbow Enterprises in Indiana.

      Looking in the ads around then should find the ad.

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