Printing circuit boards lecture @ 27C3


Are you ready to wake up from the cult of Arduino? Tired of plugging together black-box pre-built modules like a mindless drone, copying and pasting in code you found on Hackaday? You’ve soldered together your TV-Be-Gone, built your fifth Minty Boost, and your bench is awash with discarded Adafruit packaging and Make magazines. It’s time to stop this passive consumption. It’s time to create something that is truly yours. It’s time, my friend, to design your first circuit board. And you’ll need a machine to print it.

Outsourcing printed circuit board (PCB) manufacture can be expensive and slow. You want your board now, for free. And designing PCB’s is hard. You’ll make mistakes, and some boards will be wasted. You can etch your own PCB’s at home but the process is fiddly, and notoriously difficult to perfect. What if you had a printer that could make PCB’s? A rapid prototyping machine for circuit boards.

In this talk I will present my progress towards an inexpensive PCB printer by reverse engineering Epson inkjet technology. And I’m not talking about the crappy print-and-bake method you might have seen on the internet. Come and learn about the miracle of microfluidics within the modern consumer inkjet printer, and how to push it to do new, exciting things. I’ll be describing some reverse engineering techniques, a bit of electronics circuit design and the potential for 3D microfabrication with inkjet technology.

[Via Dangerous Prototypes]

8 thoughts on “Printing circuit boards lecture @ 27C3

  1. Helvetica says:

    The subject matter interests me, and I’d probably have taken the time to watch if they hadn’t chosen to preface it with The Singularly Most Condescending Paragraph in the Entire History of DIY Electronics. Have fun printing your circuit boards up there in your ivory tower.

  2. says:


    Oh we definitely will. What a completely ridiculous reason to turn down valuable knowledge. The article title caption could say “your mother’s a whore!” and I’d still watch the video if it said something interesting.

    For the record, I think it’s a perfectly valid point of view. A lot of beginning makers are passive consumers. Sure, you get valuable experience soldering things and you get the experience of feeling like you’ve made something without actually solving any actually difficult problems… which isn’t at all a bad thing if you use the skills you gain from completing these exercises to create new knowledge. For all intents and purposes, most undergraduates are passive consumers. They’re not actually doing physics or math or whatever, they’re doing exercises in the back of the book that let you feel like you’re doing physics/math/whatever such that you get the experience

    That said, I’d betcha that there are plenty of people out there who don’t progress past that. I mean that in the sense that they go back to their every day life with the experience of having completed a few kits, which is nice. I think it’s great that more knowledge about creating things is diffusing out to people who wouldn’t ordinarily be creating… but I also mean that in the sense that there are some who consider themselves creators and makers after having just soldered a kit, or made another POV arduino thing. It’s maybe my main criticism of MAKE… too much focus on tools, and “remakes” and kits, and too little focus on creating new knowledge. BTW a makerbot iPad stand or a makerbot coat hanger I have a hard time considering new knowledge, though perhaps neat and useful. Experiments considering new deposition methods for makerbots, brilliant. This guy is my hero. He slogged through a lot of shit to turn up a result that would appear to be profoundly useful. Where are the people grinding up soda bottles and other plastics and experimenting with new support material and what not for makerbots? They’re out there, but they don’t see to be documented here. Maybe I’m missing something. Whose making dinner conversation with family friends that happen to be in the plastics industry and capable of supplying interesting thermoplastics? Whose out there with a degree in chemical engineering, reading the Stratasys datasheets and patents in their spare time trying to figure out how to synthesize their funky plastics and documenting it. I wish MAKE had a bit more emphasis on blood, sweat, tears and working your ass off.

  3. Dexter says:

    Interesting demonstration but most probably not suited for everybody to copy.

  4. Collin Cunningham says:

    Exciting & brave research into building a much-needed PCB-fabbing device – hoping he overcomes the remaining hurdles in development.

    … but dang, maybe a little more respect for the established methods which are producing good results? At least a nod to the zen masters of protoboarding –

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My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

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