Solder Stencils via Electronic Craft Cutter

Solder stencil cut using Craft Robo cutting plotter

Spotted in the MAKE Flickr pool, some interesting process shots from user Shigeru Kanemoto, who’s used a Craft ROBO brand paper-cutting robot to prepare a stencil for applying solder paste to a PCB in preparation for SMT assembly. Uppermost, the stencil freshly cut; immediately above, solder paste applied. Cool idea, with a few more shots in Shigeru-san’s photostream.

16 thoughts on “Solder Stencils via Electronic Craft Cutter

  1. This is awesome because many of the stencil companies are too expensive for the average maker to go spend a lot just for the stencils that maybe one time usage for making a pcb.

  2. The big issue with the craft robo is the cost, it it uses a carrier sheet to hold the paper while cutting so that the material that is cut out doesn’t curl up into the machine or tear. These sheets cost a fortune and can only be used a handful of times.

    I have had some success which affixing paper to card with photo/spray mount however that leaves a residue on the paper you want to cut which is not ideal.

    It would be good if someone could figure out a good solution to holding the paper down, when cutting, perhaps a suction air bed?

    1. Tom,
      I have a Silhouette SD and make cheap replacement carriers by buying a three-pack of roll-up cutting boards from a dollar store and spraying them with 3M 2-way glue. If you let it dry for five to ten minutes before affixing the paper to it, it shouldn’t leave a residue (only ever had problems when attempting to cut construction paper). Keep it covered with a piece of wax paper between uses so that the adhesive doesn’t lose too much of it’s tackiness.

      Hope this helps.

  3. It’s a pretty stencil, but I fear it is way too thick.  I’m working with kapton because its is thin enough to lay down the proper amount of solder paste, but cutting it with my laser is proving a bit difficult for smaller parts.  If anyone uses one of these stencils, please post your results in terms of paste quantity!  Do you get bridging due to excessive solder?

    1. I agree with the thickness, but it might be possible to make the holes smaller. Instead of a flat, thin layer you have a skinny, tall layer. That might be “close enough” to the real thing.

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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