Photoplotting PCBs With A 3D Printer

Do you ever wonder why your PCB maker uses Gerber files? It doesn’t have to do with baby food. Gerber was the company that introduced photoplotting. Early machines used a xenon bulb to project shapes from an aperture to plot on a piece of film. You can then use that film for photolithography which has a lot of uses, including making printed circuit boards. [Wil Straver] decided to make his own photoplotter using a 3D printer in two dimensions and a UV LED. You can see the results in the video below.

A small 3D printed assembly holds a circuit board, the LED, and a magnet to hold it all to the 3D printer. Of course, an LED is a big large for a PCB trace, so he creates a 0.3 mm aperture by printing a mold and using it to cast epoxy to make the part that contacts the PCB film.

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