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 Post subject: How do I PRINT the Solder Mask Layer
PostPosted: 05 Feb 2017, 05:03 
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Joined: 11 Oct 2016, 17:04
Posts: 18
Location: NSW, Australia
I am ready to make my first PCB using DipTrace. I like to make my PCB's at home using Presensitised PCB's. This uses the method where the Bottom Layer is printed to Polyester Artwork Base paper. This is then cut to size, placed over the blank sensitised PCB and then exposed to UV light. The board is then developed which leaves the copper traces ready for etching.
For the Top Silk I use the Pulsar Toner Transfer method. Both of these do not have any problems as I can print out the associated layers.

For the Solder Mask I use a similar method as the sensitised PCB, with the Solder Mask being a negative.

This is where I am coming unstuck as I cannot print a Solder Mask layer on my printer(s) :? :?:

Any help please :(


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 Post subject: Re: How do I PRINT the Solder Mask Layer
PostPosted: 05 Feb 2017, 09:04 
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Joined: 20 Jun 2015, 14:39
Posts: 940
1) In the Main Menu of the PCB Layout editor click on File and choose Preview... in the drop-down menu.
2) In the Preview dialog window click on the Objects button to select what you want to print: [X] Pads, [X] Vias, [X] Solder Mask and [X] Board (You need to choose the board if you want to print the negative.)

Hmmm... The Solder Mask doesn't show up in the Preview dialog window, even when it is one of the selections. Maybe this is a bug? There must be a simple way to do this, but I sure can't find it. In the meantime, here's a work-around...

1) In the Main Menu click on File, choose Export in the drop-down menu and select DXF... in the fly-out menu.
2) In the Export DXF dialog window select/highlight the Board Outline and Top Mask layers, enable the [X] Use Design Origin option, set Units: to mm and click on the [Export] button.
3) In the Save As dialog window enter "Top Mask" for the file name and save it to a convenient location such as the desktop.
4) Open a new, blank PCB.
5) In the Main Menu click on File, choose Import in the drop-down menu and select DXF... in the fly-out menu.
6) In the Open dialog window navigate to the desktop, select/highlight the file named "Top Mask.dxf" and click on the [Open] button.
7) In the Import DXF dialog window set DXF Units: to Millimeters, Import Mode: to Add, Convert to: for both the Top Mask and Board Outline layers to Top, make sure all other options are disabled and click on the [Import] button.

Now use File > Preview to print it out...
1) In the Main Menu of the PCB Layout editor click on File and choose Preview... in the drop-down menu.
2) In the Preview dialog window click on the Objects button to select what to print: This time it will be [X] Traces and [X] Board

Let me know how it all comes out.

p.s. I reported this in the Bug reports forum here - http://www.diptrace.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=11424&p=21798#p21798

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Tom


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 Post subject: Re: How do I PRINT the Solder Mask Layer
PostPosted: 06 Feb 2017, 07:32 
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Joined: 14 Jun 2010, 06:43
Posts: 2762
If you want to print solder mask you can export Top Mask and Bottom Mask layers to Gerber files, then import these files back to PCB Layout, open print preview, open objects, exclude all except solder mask and print Top Mask and Bottom Mask.


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 Post subject: Re: How do I PRINT the Solder Mask Layer
PostPosted: 06 Feb 2017, 07:48 
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Joined: 20 Jun 2015, 14:39
Posts: 940
That is a convoluted solution and is very inconvenient for anybody needing to print out a mask. Could you at least add a print option to the Gerber Preview window along with a "[X] Negative" option? This would be more direct and much easier.

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Tom


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 Post subject: Re: How do I PRINT the Solder Mask Layer
PostPosted: 07 Feb 2017, 22:31 
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Joined: 11 Oct 2016, 17:04
Posts: 18
Location: NSW, Australia
I wholeheartedly agree with Tom.

Mike

-- 08 Feb 2017, 20:21 --

Hi Tom & whoever from Technical Support.

Firstly, Technical Support. Your solution DID NOT WORK!!

Tom
I finally managed to get your solution working Reasonably well. :o :shock:
I followed your instructions, but the only thing I found was if I tried to do BOTH Board Outline & Top Mask at the same time, when they were imported, the Board Outline did not show. :?:
I got around this by exporting the files seperately and imported the Board Outline first with the ADD feature and then the Top Mask again with the ADD feature and I then got both.

Thanks so much for your help Tom. :D

As an aside I have requested the ability to print Top & Bottom Masks in the Feature Requests section of the forum.

Hope I get some response. :lol: :P :?

Mike

-- 03 Jul 2017, 06:09 --

I have been using this method of TomG's for a while and everything seemed OK.
However on my latest PCB's I have been getting a problem. (It may have been there previously without me realising it).
What is happening is that the mask is OK for square pads and leaves a good square copper pad with the mask slightly larger than the pad just as one would expect. The problem is that with the round pads the Solder Mask is too small. i.e. it covers about 3/4 of the copper pad.

I cannot seem to be able to figure out what is going on.
Any help?
Thanks
Mike


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