Making Circuit Boards with a Low Wattage Laser Cutter

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The prevailing wisdom states that one can’t cut metal with low-powered hobbyist laser cutters. Rich Olson of Nothing Labs has owned his Full Spectrum 40W laser cutter for 1.5 years and has been trying to buck that trend ever since.

Through a contact at Seattle’s Metrix Create Space, he caught wind that it was possible to do so through .001″ mild steel. After some practicing to get the process perfected, Rich has been successfully churning out circuit boards (LCCBs instead of PCBs?) that are not only functional, but are also appealing to the eye when mounted on a clear acrylic substrate.


Since steel is not as good a conductor as copper, your mileage may vary when it comes to certain circuits. Even so, if it works for the board you’ve designed, it’s a whole lot faster than acid etching them yourself.

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In addition to being an online editor for MAKE Magazine, Michael Colombo works in fabrication, electronics, sound design, music production and performance (Yes. All that.) In the past he has also been a childrens' educator and entertainer, and holds a Masters degree from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program.

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