Refining 30º Engraving Bit Support in Otherplan 1.0

Posted by Ezra Spier on Nov 3, 2016 9:42:45 AM

In Otherplan 1.0, we’ve made some adjustments that cause the 30º Engraving Bit to mill a bit differently than it did in previous releases. Because this update will affect the precision and accuracy of milled PCBs, we wanted to share a little bit of background on why we’re making these changes, and how they might affect you.

During in-house testing, we’ve seen results with our 30º engraving bits that don’t quite match our expectations. In particular, we’ve noticed that on PCBs milled with the 30º engraving bit, the traces seem to be narrower than they should be, and the spacing between traces seem to be wider than they should be. This is especially noticeable on boards with small trace pitch. Because even one thousandth of an inch can affect the success or failure of a board, we searched for the cause.

After looking into a number of potential issues, we realized that the issue was actually in software. The tool definition – the part of Otherplan that describes the exact shape and size of the tool – is slightly incorrect for the 30º engraving bits that we offer in our store. Essentially, Otherplan thinks that the 30º engraving bit is thinner than it actually is, at the depth it’s milling. Even though milling with wider parts of the bit will usually result in functional prototypes, the prototypes will not be as accurate as the designer intended.

In order to address these issues, we’ve made a few changes in Otherplan 1.0:

An updated definition for the standard 30º engraving bit: We’ve changed the tool definition in Otherplan 1.0 to reflect the true dimensions of the 30º engraving bits we provide in our store. You will likely notice few changes, if any. But if you are milling boards with very fine traces, you may find that some of the traces will no longer be able to be milled with the bit. (See below for details on what to do in this situation.)

New high-precision 30º engraving bit in Otherplan and in the OMC Store: For folks who do need accurate traces down to 6 mil, we’ve begun stocking a new 30º engraving bit that is the right tool for the job. This new high-precision 30º engraving bit has a tip diameter of 0.003 in, compared to the standard bit with a 0.005 inch tip diameter.

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Topics: Software, Otherplan, New Products