[sdiy] PCB / Panel Manufacture

Pete Hartman pete.hartman at gmail.com
Fri Feb 7 06:01:33 CET 2020

The panels I have made:

aluminum blanks, hand drilled.  Sometimes with clear sticker paper on them,
and a clear coat over the top to protect the printing (I print with an
inkjet).  Some folks use water decals, kinda like the ones you might have
put on plastic car models in the past.  Not sure how that process works to
get custom artwork on them though, I haven't done it.

Aluminum panels manufactured by Metalphoto of Cincinnati (MPC). Pretty
spendy, with a significant setup cost and largish minimum orders.  I did
this for a module that is resold by Synthcube/Modular Addict/Thonk, so I
thought I would get a "professional" panel.  Unfortunately for the cost, I
have not been greatly pleased with the results.  My second order of panels
were all slightly rounded -- it's a 4HP Euro panel so screwing it down to
the jacks straightens it, but even so.  The actual metal work (holes) and
printing have been fine.

PCB panels.  Basically use your PCB CAD program to lay out an appropriately
sized PCB, import whatever monochrome artwork you care to use, and have the
PCBs fabbed at the same house where you get your circuit PCBs done.  I
usually use AllPCB.  Note that at various times they have been confused
when there was no copper on the board (I stopped doing that because then
they also won't do any solder mask, which means a beige/tan panel), and I
had to be sure I was clear that yes, all the holes are NPTH (not plated
through).  I also did one once using a pattern in the copper to create an
effect with the solder mask (crocodile skin) and they had to be reassured
that yes, this is a correct copper layer without any actual components or
real traces.  Finally, I also tried doing one on their aluminum substrate
PCB material, and I found that the quality was lacking what I would want
for it to compete with the quality of holes and printing that I got from

Going forward, I'm using standard FR4 PCB panels for my development
projects and if I ever get more of those done (hi Quincas!) I'll leave it
that way for kit sales as well.


On Thu, Feb 6, 2020 at 10:46 PM Oren Leavitt <obl64 at ix.netcom.com> wrote:

> Hi Shawn,
> Welcome!
> I have not tried these guys, but they're in the USA
> https://www.basicpcb.com/
> - Oren
> On 2/6/20 9:31 PM, Shawn Rakestraw wrote:
> Hey All! I'm new to the list and this is my first question.
> I want to dip into making some PCBs and possibly front panels. I am into
> eurorack, so that is what I will be aiming toward. I have been learning how
> to use Eagle to make my schematic into a board.
> Currently, I have been working on a power supply PCB that would mount
> inside of a case, so I don't have any major size constraints or precision.
> I will probably make a simple bus board next to distribute the power. Then
> I want to move on to an actual module. Something simple at first.
> I should also mention that I am in USA, although that probably doesn't
> matter that much anymore. I do prefer to order things in the US when I can
> though.
> I am asking for any advice at all really. My question begins with who /
> where to order from, but after that I am a bit in the dark about what to
> even ask. I don't know if copper trace thickness should be a concern.
> Obviously with power PCBs and distribution boards you want wide traces and
> I have done some research to try to learn how wide for certain amp loads.
> Really, any advice will be good for me - anything that you wish you had
> known before your first order could be helpful.
> Has anyone made panels and if so, what is the beginning process for that?
> Can you design them in Eagle using Nets or something? I don't know how
> people even design them.
> Thanks in advance, I look forward to your replies!
> - Shawn
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