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What Is PCB Milling in Your PCB Fabrication?
4669 0 Jul 20.2020, 15:20:00

PCB milling is also known as isolation milling, which refers to the process of removing areas of copper from a sheet of PCB material to recreate the signal traces, pads, as well as structures based on patterns from a digital circuit board plan called a file of PCB layout. And the PCB milling process is subtractive as like as the well-known and more common chemical PCB etch process that is to remove the material to create the electrical isolation and ground planes we need. But in general, PCB milling is a non-chemical process unlike the chemical etch process, so it can finish the process in a typical office or lab environment without exposure to hazardous chemicals. What’s more, it can fabricate the circuit board with high quality with either process.




Needless to say, there are some factors making a great effect on the quality of PCB, such as milling accuracy and control, weighted, the truth of the system, as well as the condition (sharpness, temper) of the milling bits and their respective feed/rotational speeds. Contrary to the quality of the circuit board depends on the state of the etching chemicals, and the accuracy and/or quality of the photo-masking in the chemical etch process.



The advantages of PCB milling


Needless to say, PCB milling has advantages for both PCB prototyping and some special PCB designs. And it doesn’t need to fabricate the circuit board with chemicals that may be the biggest advantage.


On one hand, it needs to take time to outsource as creating a prototype. The other one is to make a circuit board in-house. However, there will have some problems with chemicals and disposing thereof using the wet process for in-house production. Although it is difficult to fabricate the high-resolution circuit boards with the wet process, it still needs to drill and finally cut out the circuit board from the base material.


On the other hand, CNC machine prototyping can provide a quick turn PCB fabrication with fast lead time without the need for wet processing. If a CNC machine is already used for drilling, this single machine could carry out both parts of the process, which is milling and cutting. What’s more, a CNC machine is used for drilling, milling, and cutting.


There will be so hard for many circuit boards that are simple for milling to do the process by wet etching and manual drilling afterward in a laboratory environment if you don’t use top of the line systems that usually cost multiple times more than CNC milling machines.

However, it is likely for milling to take the place of etching in PCB mass production through the use of CNC is already standard practice for drilling the circuit boards.




PCB milling processes you need to know


· It will do milling process within 30 minutes but there are some factors making an effect, such as the thickness of the bit, the dimension of the circuit board, the number components, as well as their alignment it could carry.


 · PCB milling is the method which refers to removing the redundant copper from the circuit board to create signal traces and paths based on the layout design.


· PCB manufacturer can offer you the software used for PCB milling.


· PCB milling can be done in a lab environment and is without hazardous chemicals because it is the literally non-chemical process, if you want to make a number of circuit boards it has a quick lead time.

· The milling accuracy and sharpness of the milling bits you used for milling make a direct effect on the quality of PCB.

· It has little or no effect on the quality and precision of the circuit board for the rotational speeds of milling bits.

· If it’s the first time you used the milling machine, you need to practice this process of making PCB.

· If you can take some measures before making the circuit board, you will be able to make high quality products with greater precision.

· There are two categories in software, Raster and Vector.


· Software that utilizes raster calculations comes with lower processing resolution than vector based category because it is dependent on the raster information.




· PCB milling takes advantage of advanced CNC milling technology.


· The software can control the milling machine controller, and it can receive commands and machine control information with a serial and parallel port.



· The controller can monitor the positioning features that are capable of moving the milling head and control spindle speed.


· Spindle speed determines the types of systems you use and it ranges from 30,000 rpm to 100,000 rpm.


· Higher spindle speed comes with higher accuracy and better precision.

· The whole positioning system is made up of stepper motor for x and y axis and pneumatic piston for z axis and to control the spindle speed with a simple DC motor.

· It can use RF spindle motor control to control higher speed.


· The monitored stepper motor can provide greater control during milling and drilling processes because it has more advanced drive systems.


PCB milling in PCBGOGO


For FR-4 PCB, the minimum mill tool diameter is 0.6mm, the standard diameter is 1.6mm, the special is >=0.6mm<1.6mm, and the aluminum PCB is 1.0-1.6mm.


Transfer the data of PCB milling

Check the data;

Drill the tooling hole;

Test the circuit board;

Routing and milling



With over 10 years as an industry leader, PCBGOGO is one of the most experienced PCB and PCB assembly manufacturer in China. We are highly specialized not only in quick-turn PCB prototype and PCB assembly, but also medium and small volume PCB fabrication. In addition, we use the advanced PCB milling machine to fabricate your circuit boards that has the highest quality to meet your demands and committed to adhering to the strictest standards in PCB fabrication and assembly. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us with service@pcbgogo.com, we will be happy to help you.

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