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PCB Etching DIY with CO2 Laser

Custom Design from Laser Etching PCB

As a crucial core component in the electronic parts, the PCB (printed circuit board) of designing and fabricating is a great concern to electronics manufacturers. You may be familiar with the traditional pcb printing technologies like the toner transfer method and even practice it on your own. Here I want to share with you other pcb etching methods with a CO2 laser cutter, allowing you to flexibly customize the pcbs according to your preferred designs.


Principle and technique of pcb etching

- Briefly introduce the printed circuit board

The simplest pcb design is constructed of the insulating layer and two copper layers (also called copper clad). Usually FR-4(woven glass and epoxy) is the common material to act as insulation, at the meanwhile based on the various demands on specific functions, circuit designs, and board sizes, some dielectrics like FR-2(phenolic cotton paper), CEM-3 (non-woven glass and epoxy) can also be adopted. The copper layer takes responsibility for delivering the electrical signal to build a connection between layers through insulation layers with the help of through-holes or surface-mount solder. Therefore, the main purpose of etching pcb is to create the circuit traces with copper as well as eliminate the useless copper or make them isolated from each other.

Having a short peek at pcb etching principle, we take a look at typical etching methods. There are two distinct operation methods based on the same principle to etch the clad copper.

- PCB etching solutions

One belongs to direct thinking which is to remove the rest useless copper areas except for the circuit traces. Usually, we adopt the etching solution such as ferry chloride to achieve the etching process. Due to the large areas to be etched, a long time needs to be taken as well as great patience.

The other method is more ingenious to etch the cut-out line (more accurately say - the outline of the circuit layout), leading to the precise circuit conduction while isolating the irrelevant copper panel. In this condition, less copper is etched and less time is consumed. Below I will focus on the second method to detail how to etch a pcb according to the design file.


How to etch a pcb

What things to be prepared:

circuit board (copper cladboard), spray paint (black matte), pcb design file, laser cutter, ferric chloride solution (to etch the copper), alcohol wipe (to clean), acetone washing solution (to dissolve the paint), sandpaper (to polish the copper board)

Operation Steps:

1. Handle PCB design file to vector file (the outer contour is gonna be laser etched) and load it into a laser system

2. No rough up the copper clad board with sandpaper, and clean off the copper with the rubbing alcohol or acetone, ensuring there are no oils and grease left.

3. Hold the circuit board in the pliers and give a thin spray painting on that

4. Place the copper board on the working table and start laser etching the surface painting

5. After etching, wipe away the etched paint residue using alcohol

6. Put it in the PCB etchant solution (ferric chloride) to etch the exposed copper

7. Resolve the spray paint with acetone washing solvent (or a paint remover such as Xylene or paint thinner). Bathe or wipe the remaining black paint off of the boards are accessible.

8. Drill the holes

9. Solder the electronic elements through the holes

10. Finished

Why choose laser etching pcb

Worth to note, that the CO2 laser machine etches the surface spray paint according to the circuit traces instead of copper. It's a clever way to etch the exposed copper with small areas and can be executed at home. Also, low-power laser cutter is able to make it thanks to the easy-removing of spray paint. The easy availability of the materials and easy operation of the CO2 laser machine make the method popular and easy, thus you can make the pcb at home, spending less time. Furthermore, quick prototyping can be realized by the CO2 laser engraving pcb, allowing various pcbs designs to be customized and fast realized. Besides the flexibility of pcb design, there is a key factor about why choose co2 laser cutter that high precision with fine laser beam ensures the accuracy of circuit connection.

(Additional explanation - co2 laser cutter has ability in engraving and etching on non-metal materials. If you are confused with the laser cutter and laser engraver, please click the link to learn more: The Difference: laser engraver VS laser cutter | (

CO2 laser pcb etching machine is suitable for signal layer, double layers and multiple layers of pcbs. You can use it to diy your pcb design at home, and also put the CO2 laser machine into practical pcbs production. High repeatability and consistency of high precision are excellent advantages for laser etching and laser engraving, ensuring the premium quality of PCBs. Detailed information to get from laser engraver 100.

One-pass PCB etching by UV laser, fiber laser

What's more, if you want to realize high-speed processing and less procedures for making pcbs, the UV laser, green laser and fiber laser machine may be ideal choices. Directly laser etching the copper to leave the circuit traces offer great convenience in industrial production.

✦ The series of articles will keep updating, you can obtain more about UV laser cutting and laser etching on the pcbs in the next.

Directly shoot us email if you are seeking a laser solution to pcb etching

Who are we:


Mimowork is a results-oriented corporation bringing 20-year deep operational expertise to offer laser processing and production solutions to SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) in and around clothing, auto, ad space.

Our rich experience of laser solutions deeply rooted in the advertisement, automotive & aviation, fashion & apparel, digital printing, and filter cloth industry allows us to accelerate your business from strategy to day-to-day execution.

We believe that expertise with fast-changing, emerging technologies at the crossroads of manufacture, innovation, technology, and commerce are a differentiator. Please contact us: Linkedin Homepage and Facebook homepage or

Post time: May-09-2022

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