LPKF PCB Milling Machine
Our Fab Lab has a pcb mill that can create pcbs from copper plated sheets of fibre glass.
The mill is a LPKF Protomat S104 PCB mill that can produce single/double-sided PCBs from KiCad/Eagle layouts exported as Gerber files and Exellion Drill files. A small 5x5 cm board takes about 10 minutes per side.
Tool change happens automatically, a camera system helps aligning dual-sided boards, and a vacuum table holds down your board.
A kit for through-hole plating of vias is also available, and for SMD boards, the mill can dispense solder paste.
The material costs 15 cents (single-sided) or 30 cents (double sided) per square centimeter, based on the rectangular bounding box around your board. That's under 4 Euros for a 5x5 cm single-sided board.
In principle, the LPKF can also cut and engrave other materials like plexiglas (acrylic), some other plastics, and soft metals such as brass and aluminum. Maximum height for these materials is 38 mm for engraving, or around 12 mm for cutting. Cutting and engraving works with vector drawings exported to HP-GL plotter or Autocad DXF format, among others. However, we have other mills and lasercutters that are more suited to this purpose, and especially the lasercutter is much easier to use than any mill, so we leave the LPKF calibrated for PCB material (calibrating it is a pretty time-intensive process).
If you have any questions concerning the Protomat that go beyond the online documentation, you can write an email to the responsible Fablab Hiwi.
Manuals and Documentation
- Tutorial: Exporting Gerber and Drill files from KiCad/Eagle
- Tutorial: Changing Material
- Tutorial: PCB Milling
- Tutorial: Dispensing Solderpaste - not working yet
- Complete Manuals, Documentation and Software (internal)
- More details, a product brochure and demo videos can be found on the manufacturer's S104 product page.
The PCB-Mill is operated via the Circuit Pro 2.1.x Software that is already installed on the computer next to the Mill. To keep the installation clean and working, please do not use the milling PC for any other purposes than running the machining applications.
The PCB designs have to be provided as gerber and drill files. Most CAD programs will have an option to export those. Tutorials for KiCad and Eagle can be found here.
Circuit Pro uses our own "rwth_easy" templates by default. These templates should be used if you want to create single-sided or double-sided PCBs exported as Gerber files. Only the available tools (see below) will be used. If you need to use the milling machine for more advanced PCBs or other materials please use a different template (File->New...) and contact the responsible Fablab Hiwi.
We use 19 standard tools in the automatic tool changer —please do not change them:
- Spiral Drill 1.0 mm
- Spiral Drill 2.0 mm
- Spiral Drill 0.8 mm
- Spiral Drill 1.2 mm
- Spiral Drill 0.7 mm
- Spiral Drill 0.4 mm
- Spiral Drill 0.6 mm
- Spiral Drill 1.5 mm
- Spiral Drill 3.0 mm
- Universal Cutter 0.2 mm
- Micro Cutter 0.1 mm
- End Mill RF 0.15 mm
- End Mill RF 0.25 mm
- End Mill RF 0.4 mm
- End Mill 0.8 mm
- End Mill 1.0 mm
- End Mill 2.0 mm
- Contour Router 1.0 mm
- Contour Router 2.0 mm
The Contour Router tools can create holes of any dimension. For example, 2.3 mm holes use the Contour Router 2.0 mm, and 1.6 mm holes use the Contour Router 1.0 mm.
These tools can only be used with PCBs. Do not cut plastics with them—this will destroy them, and they're expensive.
If a tool needs to be changed please contact a Fab Lab Administrator so we can help and keep track. Do not attempt to change it on your own. Used tools must be marked.