Think & Tinker, Ltd.
P.O. Box 1606, Palmer Lake, CO 80133
Tel: (719) 488-9640, Fax: (866) 453-8473
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Tel.: (719) 488-9640
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Setting Up A Printed
Circuit Shop


Cu Plate




Questions about:
  1. What do I need to set up my own PCB shop?

    What you need when setting up a PCB shop depends a great deal on the type, quantity, and quality of PCBs you would like to produce. See if you fit into any of the following categories and follow the links to a recommended configuration

    I only need to make a single PCB, but I need it right away. I don't intend to make any more (or many more) boards in the future.
    I would like to have a shop where I can make a couple of simple (0.020" traces and spaces, 50 to 200 through-holes) PCBs per week. Through hole plating is not required.
    I would like to have a shop where I can make 1 or 2 moderately complex (0.012" traces and spaces, 300 to 500 through-holes) PCBs per week. Through hole plating is required.
    I would like to set up a complete PCB lab capable of making 1 to 20 boards at a time.

  2. How many tanks do I need to implement a basic shop?
    What do I do with the rinse water that is polluted when I make a printed circuit?

    The tank count in any shop depends on the processes being implemented. If you are setting up a basic shop for making double-sided boards with plated through-holes (drilling, imaging, developing, copper plating, tin/lead plating, and etching) a good rule of thumb is to count the number of process tanks you will need (in this example, 4 tanks) and then add 3 rinse tanks for each process (except dry-film developing). Take a second to review the basic process guide. To download a sample shop layout (232 KBytes), click on the shop icon Download sample shop layout
    Three (3) tanks are used after each process step to insure that the board is thoroughly rinsed before proceeding to the next step. Since we do not want ANY toxic material to go down the drain, it is essential that the board be adequately rinsed without relying on running water from a tap or sink. The three rinse tanks are placed next to the process tank . As soon as the board is removed from the chemical bath, it can be dipped into tank I for a preliminary rinse. The board is lifted from TANK I and the majority of the rinse water is allowed to drip back into the tank before the board is dipped into TANK II. After tank II, the board is rinsed in TANK III (of course, you already knew that). After rinsing in all three tanks, the board is clean enough to proceed to the next step in the fabrication procedure. Clearly, TANK I will load up with process chemicals much faster than TANKS II or III, but not to worry. As the liquid volume in the process tank falls from evaporation and drag-out, we will add water from TANK I to maintain the solution at it's proper operating level. Water in TANK II is used to replenish TANK I, and TANK III water replenishes TANK II. Fresh distilled or deionized water is used to replenish TANK III. Using this approach effectively returns virtually all of the process chemistry back to it's original tank, and subsequent processing steps are shielded from cross-contamination.

    The moral of this story? NEVER throw rinse water down the drain. If you do, you will be pouring out valuable materials for which you paid good money. You will be acting irresponsibly and will deserve a sound beating.

Established 1990

On the web since 1994

Sales: 1-(719) 488-9640    Tech Support: 1-(719) 488-9640    Fax: 1-(866) 453-8473
Copyright © 1994 - 2014 Think & Tinker, Ltd.