Best way to cut stencils
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Best way to cut stencils

by Philly on Wed Sep 15, 2010 1:22 pm

Hi, does anyone know the best method for cutting a solder paste stencil out, what process you use etc. Im looking to cut one sometime soon, so just looking for the best method. Cheers
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Re: Best way to cut stencils

by adafruit on Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:30 pm

did you read our extremely detailed tutorial?
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Re: Best way to cut stencils

by Philly on Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:44 pm

Sorry, I didn't. Didn't know it existed to be honest :D

Will go check now...
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Re: Best way to cut stencils

by Philly on Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:53 pm

Top Marks!

Does it really takes ~40w to cut it, I'd never have guessed!

Thanks again, Phil
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Re: Best way to cut stencils

by adafruit on Wed Sep 15, 2010 6:59 pm

yay for extremely detailed tutorials :)
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Re: Best way to cut stencils

by mikeselectricstuff on Tue Sep 21, 2010 6:10 pm

adafruit wrote:yay for extremely detailed tutorials :)

Yay for easy website navigation - I click on 'tutorials' - no sign of anything to do with stencil cutting... where did you hide it?
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Re: Best way to cut stencils

by Philly on Wed Sep 22, 2010 10:38 am

Mike, I thought the same, I ended up googling 'adafruit laser stencil'

So here it is ;)
http://www.ladyada.net/library/laser/pcbstencils.html
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Re: Best way to cut stencils

by mikeselectricstuff on Wed Sep 22, 2010 12:21 pm

Has anyone tried polyester film - I use stencils from this place , which are pretty good - they'll just about do 0.5mm QFPs if done on thin film (75 micron?) but I don't know what type of laser he uses.
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Re: Best way to cut stencils

by Philly on Wed Sep 22, 2010 12:56 pm

Not sure what he uses, but a friend of mine made me some with mylar and he just had a 40w 'china special' laser. Was around £750 delivered. They came out great, but I dont see him enough so ordered one myself.
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Re: Best way to cut stencils

by AdShea on Tue Sep 28, 2010 2:48 pm

I've used 4mil PET film (Mylar) and it works great even for 0.5mm pitch. Main things are figuring out parameters so the pads separate without melting together and controlling melt back from the beam spot to get the desired accuracy.
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Re: Best way to cut stencils

by yzf600 on Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:32 pm

I'm getting ready to make some stencils for my boards that have 0.5 mm pitch 64 pin QFN parts. Not only will this be the first board I've ever done with the toaster oven method, I develop my boards on Eagle running under Ubuntu. To top that off, I've go to put the files on my mac to take them to work where the epilog laser printer is! Fun! I guess I'll have to fire up the vmware to run viewmate.

I see most everyone using Corel Draw to print to the laser. I don't own Corel Draw. After I shrink the pads with Viewmate and print to PDF, can't I just print the PDF from adobe reader to the epilog laser? Can viewmate print directly to the epilog laser?

You know what would be cool? If someone took gerbv and added the hooks in to shrink the pads. Man I wish I could print straight from my mac to the epilog laser.
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Re: Best way to cut stencils

by 250 Coupe on Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:11 pm

You should be able to print the PDF directly from Acrobat. The laser driver works with any Windows compatible program. I've printer from Word, Corel and a couple other programs without a hitch.

I think Corel got it's head start because Epilog gave examples in the manual and the engineers knew how to use it.

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Re: Best way to cut stencils

by Richwest on Mon Oct 03, 2011 1:52 am

I would not recommend buying a Cricut just to create Solder Paste Stencils. If, however, you have a friend or relative who owns one, or find a Cricut on sale or at a Garage Sale, then buying Sure-Cuts-A-Lot software will turn a Cricut into a very useful device. Functionality will then be similar to something like a low-end vinyl/craft cutter such as the Craft Robo .
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Re: Best way to cut stencils

by Sebastian6 on Wed Nov 09, 2011 1:31 am

here is the answer for your query,Items Needed for Cutting Stencils:
Stencil material: E-Z Cut or Heavy Duty E-Z Cut Plastic; Electric stencil burner with fine-point angled tip or an X-acto or other knife blade; metal stand to hold the burner; tempered glass cutting surface; emery board or nail file; red, green or black extra-fine tip Sharpie permanent markers; masking tape &/or scotch tape.

Electric stencil burners (also known as hot cutters or stencil cutters), are similar to wood-burning tools. The type we sell has a fine-point tip that is perfect for cutting intricate stencils. The tip is angled, which allows you to hold the lightweight wooden handle in a comfortable, natural position, like holding a pen. It is a major improvement over the burners with plastic handles (they tend to have inconsistent temperatures and handles that get hot to the touch). A wonderful advantage of using a stencil burner is that you can move it in all directions, whereas a knife works best only when pulling toward yourself. Stencil burners are definitely the tool of choice for cutting circles, curved areas, jagged edges (leaves) and irregular shapes. Cutting goes faster with a burner, so they are great when speed is a factor, or when many stencils need to be cut. For those with banned, carpal tunnel syndrome, or other hand ailments, stencil burners are easier to use than knife blades, and cause less fatigue. Very little pressure is needed... the burner does the work! (as long as you use them with E-Z Cut Stencil materials, not mylar or similar materials which tend to get ridges and rough beaded edges when cut with burners. See more info, below...).
In comparison with stencil burners, X-acto knives with a sharp #11 blade are the best tools for cutting straight lines, large curves, tiny lettering, and designs where total accuracy and precision are needed.

Stencil Materials: E-Z Cut Plastic and Heavy Duty E-Z Cut Plastic are clear, durable stencil materials available by the roll. They work incredibly well with our stencil burners and with X-acto knives for cutting intricate and detailed designs. Their nickname, originating 15 years ago, is "cuts like butter!". Heavy Duty E-Z Cut Plastic is used when greater strength and size is needed, and for dimensional stencilling. It's always a thrill to see the look of amazement on peoples' faces as they try cutting E-Z Cut Plastics with a stencil burner for the first time-- before trying this combination of tools, people didn't know that stencil cutting could be so easy and so much fun!
One of the main benefits of E-Z Cut Plastics is that they do not get ridges and rough edges when they are cut with our stencil burner. (When mylar and most other materials are cut with a stencil burner, they often develop beaded edges or ridges along the cut areas which need to be scraped off or sanded down.)
Another benefit when using E-Z Cut Plastics is that the burner tips last longer because there is less resistance when cutting these materials.
For best results, store all stencil materials loosely rolled, away from direct sources of heat. If E-Z Cut Plastic seems to have a curl to it, roll it in the opposite direction and it will correct itself.

Cutting Surface: When cutting with burners or knives, use tempered glass with polished edges (or wrap the glass edges with masking tape), or flat-surfaced ceramic tile. Self-healing cutting mats can be used with knives, but not with stencil burners. There is more resistance when cutting stencils on self-healing mats compared to cutting on glass surfaces, and some people prefer the slower cutting speed and feeling of control this gives them. However, most people prefer the speed of cutting stencils on glass with their stencil burners!

Sturdy Metal Stand: As a safety feature, our metal stand is recommended to hold the stencil burner when it is not being used. This lessens the chance of it falling off and burning anything/anyone. The metal stand can be taped down on the side of the work surface with masking tape or blue painter's tape to hold it in place.

Repair or stencil-cutting mistakes: Use strips of clear scotch tape on the front and back of the stencil to cover the "oops", then re-cut the area using a knife.
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Re: Best way to cut stencils

by Sylvester on Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:48 pm

Hi, i hope you find out my this conversation is little bit different but if someone have any comments or views so kinda share. Over the months that I've been learning the AB, I'm finding that masking, stenciling and cutting stencils and friskets is as big a skill as the airbrushing itself. Naturally, I'm having some frustrating problems that I'd like some pros to weigh in on:

1. Cutting a design into a frisket directly on your project. I keep watching pros do this with a hobby knife on a intercoat cleared project, yet if I do it, I end up cutting into the project and leaving scratches in the surface of my project. If I go lighter with the hobby knife, the frisket doesn't get cut through and it tears. I can't find happy medium.

2. Stencils. Tips to avoid overspray (underspray?). I put a stencil on my work and the air pressure blows paint underneath the borders of the design. How do you minimize this?

3. Making stencils. I've recently seen these plastic stencil cutting heat pens and that looks like the way to go-- I'm getting "done" with the imprecision of the hobby knife. Recommendations? Is the this really as easy as it looks in the videos?
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