Who among us wouldn't want the ability to create PCBs on their desktop?
I just received an email from my chum Javi in Spain. "Have you heard about Voltera (VolteraInc.com)? It's a Canadian company that is going to offer desktop-size PCB printers for fast prototype development," the email said.
Well, of course, I immediately bounced over to Voltera's website to take a peek, and I have to say that -- at first glance -- this does look rather tasty.
Details on the site are somewhat sketchy, but it does say that this little beauty will be able to
take you by the Gerbers take your Gerbers and print dual-layer boards on FR4 with 10mil space/trace.
Initially, I assumed "dual-layer" meant double-sided, but I'm not 100% sure. Maybe it prints two conductive layers with an insulating layer in between. I'm trying to get in contact with Voltera to learn more.
The machine also features a solder paste dispenser. You can use it to dispense solder paste on to boards you print using this machine or boards that were created using traditional fabrication techniques.
Last but certainly not least, this machine boasts a reflow capability -- a 550W heater allows you to skip the hassle of hand soldering and reflow your components.
On reflection, I'm now thinking that this really is intended to create "dual-layer" rather than "double-sided" boards. If this is the case, why stop at only two layers? Why not support more?
Alternatively, if the machine can be used to create double-sided boards, why is there no mention of NC drill capability?
From my point of view, the Voltera website is tempting but elusive. It hints at the joys to come without tying down any of the nitty-gritty details that I desire. Maybe you can take a look and see if I have missed anything.
Is this the sort of thing you would use? I have a lot of friends who work exclusively with surface-mount components -- even for their hobby projects. For myself, however, I'm still a through-hole component man, so I would drool over a desktop machine that could print (or otherwise create) double-sided plated-through boards. What say you?
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting