Fabricated PCB - safe to drill through?

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user1397215

Joined Aug 31, 2022
3
I have ordered some boards with PCBway but forgot to update the board shape layer for a hole that shall be used to mount the board with a screw. Now that the boards have arrived assembled with components, what can I used to drill a hole on this PCB? I was thinking of using a Voltera V-One which I already have but apparently this tool cannot drill holes safely with FR4 material (something to do with releasing fiberglass particles in the air). Is there any options I can try? Is it safe to drill using drill press? Don't really want to re order the boards due to the cost. The hole is isolated from the components on the board (no copper close to worry about).
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
26,000
You should be able to use a normal twist drill/drill press. I have successfully.
Drill at the recommended RPM for the material and drill dia.
 
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Ian0

Joined Aug 7, 2020
6,319
Fibreglass wears out standard high-speed steel twist drills rather quickly. If you have a lot to do, get a carbide drill, or plenty of HSS drills.
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
27,475
There's little danger from the dust of drilling a single hole into fiberglass. If there were, a whole lot of us would have died horrible deaths a long time ago.

Wearing a dust mask is not a bad idea. You can also put a vacuum hose near the drilling point while you work. Another thing that addresses the issue pretty well is using a bit of water to not only absorb the dust, but it lubricates the bit. Since the boards are already populated, you need to consider whether you can do this without getting something wet that shouldn't get wet. Other things you can use are a drop of oil or a spot of grease or Vaseline. Any of those will trap the cuttings and allow you clean them off and dispose of them in a suitable way.
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
26,000
Ensure solid support under the board, also it is prudent to reverse/flip the board over as soon as the drill tip initially breaks through to continue drilling, this avoids tearing of the hole.
Drill through with a Slow feed. :cool:
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
15,120
(something to do with releasing fiberglass particles in the air). Is there any options I can try? Is it safe to drill using drill press?
If you're not going to be drilling one hole in a very large number of boards, I wouldn't worry fiberglass particles. Just wear a mask and eye protection and layout something to catch the dust from drilling and don't do it in a place where you spend a lot of time (like your kitchen). I drill FR4 on my bench in my storeroom often enough, but I do more CEM-1.
The hole is isolated from the components on the board (no copper close to worry about).
If the board has more than 2 layers, you need to be concerned about traces on inner layers.

Use something to support the board from the bottom that you can drill into. Use a carbide bit. Using a spring loaded centerpunch to make an indent where you want the hole will prevent the drill bit from walking around. I use a Dremel type tool, spinning at high speed, in a holder for drilling holes in my homemade boards.
 
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