How-To: Use a laser cutter to make PCBs

How-To: Use a laser cutter to make PCBs


I just started teaching a course in the Design & Technology department at Parsons the New School for Design. It’s called Beyond DIY, and it’s all about tutorial making and DIY projects. One of my students, Joe Saavedra, is quick out of the gate with his Instructable for using a laser cutter to prepare PCBs for etching. Did I mention they have a giant laser (Epilog 75W)? I’m really looking forward to the course. If you want to keep up with what they’re working on, check out the Beyond DIY class blog.

10 thoughts on “How-To: Use a laser cutter to make PCBs

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow, great! I too have a giant laser that I’ve been trying to figure out a good use for. First I was going to hold the earth hostage for $1,000,000, but now I can make some circuit boards at home. Thanks.

  2. Marc de Vinck says:

    Congratulations on the class Becky, sounds great. Parsons is an amazing school! (Disclosure: I’m a graduate! BFA Product Design ’94…pre-lazzzzor days!)

  3. Garrett says:

    Glad to see more people using this process…there are even several Instructables for doing the same thing. It means laser cutters are getting more accessible.

    The first time I tried it was in 2008:

    I don’t recommend using alcohol to wipe off the paint residue. That’s what I told everyone to use back then, but now I find that alcohol removes the thin traces too much. Scrubbing with toothpaste works much better and preserves the traces.

    Also, giving the paint time to bond is important. I keep several copper clad boards painted for whenever I need them. Day-old paint can wipe off too easily.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Here is a stupid question that has bugged me for a while. Is it theoretically possible to make a laser cutter that is able to create pcbs without etching. Meaning is it possible to make a laser cutter strong enough (and at a correct wavelength?) so that it is able to “burn off” the copper?

    1. Garrett says:

      No, there is not currently a way to vaporize copper and then not go on to obliterate the fiberglass underneath.

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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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