I design in KiCAD, then plot as DXF. Tried a bunch of different CAM tools:
- mods ("fabmodules", this one takes PNGs not vector): ok for simple stuff but hard to control details on bigger jobs
- Fusion: cant update DXF once imported, chokes on mid to large size PCBs
- flatcam: just terrible UX, I couldn't figure it out at all
- VCarve Pro: pretty decent
The main problem is that PCBs aren't flat and our CNC mill doesn't have a Z-sensor that can be read from the PC.
The real way to go is to (automatedly) probe the PCB in a hundred different places to build a heightmap and then use that to skew the toolpath.
Without that the only way to do boards bigger than 5-10cm in any dimension is a lot of luck and splitting up the file into smaller sectors and zeroing them independently, which is a lot of manual work the CAM tools aren't made for.
@s_ol Wow, thanks for sharing all that info. That sounds like a pretty complicated workflow. Any suggestions for mills that can compensate for z variations? Luckily the boards I want to make are tiny (maybe a few cm across), so maybe I can live with the height issues?
You're welcome. I don't really know about CNC models, I only have experience with what we have in the fablab here. If you search for "PCB CNC Milling" on youtube etc. you will find some guides that might point you in the right direction for finding some though.
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