3D Printed Circuit Boards… Sort Of



Comedian Demetri Martin does a bit about the phrase “sort of”. He says:

“Sort of’ is such a harmless thing to say… sort of. It’s just a filler. Sort of… it doesn’t really mean anything. But after certain things, sort of means everything. Like… after “I love you”… or “You’re going to live.”

SCADboard is an OpenSCAD library that lets you create 3D printable circuit boards…sort of. The library lays out like a breadboard with two bus bars on each side and a grid of rows and columns. OpenSCAD modules provide a way to create a board, ICs, LEDs, wires and other fundamental components. You set a few initial variables (like the board thickness) then your code looks like this:

 wire(1,bln,1,e, neg); // Neg left trace to LED
 led(1,e+1, 1,e+2, yellowled); // LED
 wire(1,f, 1,i, pos); // LED Pos
 wire(1,j, 1,brp, resistor); // Resistor
 
 wire(3,c,3,h, pos); // Cap Pos
 wire(4,c,4,h, neg); // LED Resistor

The catch? You can print it, but there’s no electrical conductivity. There are little troughs for you to include wires. The authors suggest you twist the wires together. You can solder them, but if you do, you have to be careful not to get the plastic board hot enough to melt. That might take a little technique or some heat sinking. It certainly requires a steady hand and fast soldering. We thought about covering the printed substrate with Kapton tape and punching through it to pass the wires through holes, but we aren’t sure how well that would work in practice.

Apparently, though, it does work. They did a layout of a simple Arduino board as a proof of concept. It is a circuit board…sort of. [Brian’s] been doing his series on making a PCB in everything, but we doubt this will make muster. Then again, you don’t really have to make them at all anymore.


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