Monday, February 26, 2007


Printing with conventional solder

I gave the extruding solder thing another go before it got too late. This time I tried to lay down a track with a HDPE surface within a millimeter of the extruder head. Keep in mind that I was pumping the solder with one hand and moving the sherbet lid (my HDPE surface) with the other.

Still, I did get one reasonable trace (circled in red)

There was enough energy in the solder trace to etch it into the HDPE to a point where it is solidly attached to the plastic surface. When I say solidly, I mean that I can't peel it off with my fingernails.

If I get time in the morning I'm headed down to the hardware store to see if they have electrician's solder (as opposed to electronics solder) in a diameter something like 3 mm.

That's really cool. I'm surprised more people haven't commented on it, but yeah, I'm impressed by the potential this has, especially if there's eventually a pick-and-place capability for electronic components. With a fine enough nozzle, you can print circuits right onto surface-mount components that were laid into a previous layer, then encapsulate them once the circuit is debugged.
Yeah, a pick and place machine is high up on my "to do" list after I get Tommelise going.

I've got to design another extruder barrel before I am going to be able to extrude solder properly, though. Unlike what you can do with plastic filament the extruder barrel for solder has to be kept above the melting point of the solder right up to the PTFE thermal barrier.
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