EDIT: I have documented the KiCAD to G-code process here: hobbycnc.com/pc_board_isolation_routing/
As a follow-up to my last post on Autodesk and Eagle, I did my first PCB isolation routing using the KiCAD and FlatCAM to LinuxCNC toolchain. I did schematic capture and board design on KiCAD and Gerber-to-GCode on FlatCAM. It took a few hours to get somewhat comfortable with the products and process. Obviously, I couldn’t check the PCBs as thoroughly as some of the industrial x ray services out there today because I’m just a hobbyist but I still think I did a decent job. Some of it is still a bit fuzzy to me, but I got it to work anyway.
I ran a ‘pen-test’ of the PCB last night (Video 1). I’ve seen this dozens of times, but it still fascinates me just as much as the x ray checks industrial PCBs go through.
I just finished drilling-and-routing the ‘real thing’ today. I used my new Tapered-stub Trace Isolation Tools from PreciseBits. The results were fantastic. You can see 20x magnification in Figs 2 & 3 – this was right off the machine with no sanding (I did go over it with a stiff, plastic-bristled brush to get off the loose debris).
Overall, I’m pleased with the quality of KiCAD and FlatCAM to produce any type of PCB I’ll ever need.
One final thought – yes, indeed, chemical etching can give much more precise results, and finer geometries, at the added cost of caustic chemicals. Where Isolation Routing wins big-time is the drilling of the holes. Believe-it-or-not, there are just over 100 holes in this damn board!