Jun 05, 2023

Desktop PCB Mill Review

[Carl] wanted to prototype his circuits quickly using printed circuit boards. He picked up a Bantam Tools Desktop PCB Mill and made a video about the results. His first attempt wasn’t perfect, as you could notice under the microscope. A few adjustments, though, and the result was pretty good.

Be warned, this mill is pretty expensive — anywhere from $2,500 to $3,000. The company claims it is a better choice than a conventional cheap mill because it uses a 26,000 RPM spindle and has high-resolution steppers. Because of its low backlash and high accuracy and repeatability, the company claims it can easily mill boards with 6 mil traces.

Of course, the mill can do things other than PCBs. [Carl] was impressed with the speed of the system, too. The boards he tries in the video are pretty small, but they took a few minutes each.

Of course, like most homemade PCBs, there are no plated-through holes or solder mask or plating. Of course, you could add all of those things using additional steps. We’ve seen people use wires for vias or even rivets. However, that sort of takes away from the main idea of push a button and PCB pops out.

We’ve looked at using a cheap mill to do the same thing, and Hackaday’s own [Adil] found that 0.3 mm traces (not quite 12 mils) were easily doable. If that’s sufficient for your needs, you might save quite a bit of money over the mill presented here. We’ve seen others do 10 mil traces, so that’s probably doable, too.