Using 3D printer to deposit etch resist for PCB prototyping

I am wandering if anybody tried to use 3D printer for PCB prototyping..
I imagine the first layer of filament could be used as etch-resist.
The replacement of print head with some sort of pen assembly (Rotring drafting pen holder for example? or permanent marker?)  may be the better option.

My question is, how to convert gerber files into stl and useable g-code?
Thanks in advance!


  • seems to me like this is a repetier specifiek forum and that your question is a much more general 3d printers replated. or even further... 

    but seems like a plausible idea.. you just won't be likely to find an answer here. 

    grtz Matthieu
  • Many PCB files use a format called gerber files.  That is the format you will need to convert to gcode.  I wonder if you could just print the gerber layer and have a way to scan that and convert it to gcode.  I've seen people take family pictures and scan these and convert it to a 3d printer file and print it.  If they can do it, there must be a way to convert images of the printed gerber files to a printable gcode file.
  • I found this article about the issue... a bit complicated, still it may be the way to go.

  • edited November 2016
    Think the problem is not the data conversion, there are many tools available.
    (google gives lot of results)
    The problem is that filament will not stick reliable on the copper side of PCB .
    Result will be underetching .
    Better way to make pcb on a printer is to work with a blue laser to expose the tracks.
    An other possibility is to engrave BUT you need a rocksolid mechanics otherwise
    you need a lot of engraver bits as the tips are extremely sensitve and will brake

  • I used engraver (T-tech, and didn't like the noise and dust...
    Data conversion is a problem... Yes, there is a lot of google results for converters but none that I know of is as good as old, Autotrax DOS utility (plotter and transparency, marking holes in trough hole pads for drill guiding)

    Blue laser (plus Riston photoresist) is good idea.....
  • edited November 2016
    i also had good result by making a needle from old tungsten drill , mounting it in a selfmade spring loaded holder.
    covering pcb copper just with some spray paint (harden paint  24h) and scratching the tracks on homemade cnc.
    (works similar to a drag knife)

    in the past i used an old Graphtec Penplotter but unfortunately the etch resistant ink i used is no more available.

    hopefully i succed with uv-curing paint and blue laser combination but no time at the moment

    i use Eagle SW with PCB-Gcode
  • Yes, I think I saw that scratching needle and spring loaded holder somewhere on web, I liked the idea, it is a good way to go from Gerber to isolated tracks on PCB.
    Originally I wanted to end up with HPGL code (I have two plotters lying around and doing nothing recently).
    The next best thing for me seemed to be the g-code (with 3D printer)

  • edited November 2016

    bojan said:
    Originally I wanted to end up with HPGL code (I have two plotters lying around and doing nothing recently).

    so if you can convert your gerber to HPGL , there is a shortcut to Gcode (
    simple to use program which also converts bitmaps to gcode
  • Well, this is a problem...  I haven't seen such converter and I did search a lot.

  • edited November 2016
    may be that helps : 

    once imported eagles cam processor should be able to generate hpgl , gcode etc.
    there is a freeware version available so just check it out
  • Why not choose a PCB house for pcb prototyping which would be very easy and low cost? 
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