General Drill Press for PCB holes

Thread Starter

Donsa

Joined Sep 19, 2018
5
Hi all, first post here.

My question is simple, could you use a general drill press (like this https://www.homedepot.com/p/WEN-8-in-5-Speed-Drill-Press-4208/204853910?MERCH=REC-_-PIPHorizontal2_rr-_-203602873-_-204853910-_-N), running at 3000 rpm, to make PCB holes? I read many posts about this and nobody really seems to answer the question. Please do not wander off suggesting to get custom PCBs or other tools (btw i want to get this press for bigger projects too, not willing to get 2 different drill presses). Dont wanna sound arrogant here, just looking for a quick and simple yes/no answer, and explanation for the choice taken (especially on the cons of low RPM).

Thanks!!
 

ebp

Joined Feb 8, 2018
2,332
You can use a low speed like that as long as the feed for the bit is also slow. With manual drilling, positioning is usually a significant part of the overall time so low feed rate doesn't make a great difference.

The most important thing is run-out if you plan to use solid tungsten carbide drills which are the only type that will stand up to any laminate with glass mat or woven glass cloth in it. Carbide drills are extremely hard but extremely brittle and the least bit of lateral force will break small ones. Lateral play in the quill can be a problem with inexpensive presses.
 
Last edited:

Picbuster

Joined Dec 2, 2013
998
Hi all, first post here.

My question is simple, could you use a general drill press (like this https://www.homedepot.com/p/WEN-8-in-5-Speed-Drill-Press-4208/204853910?MERCH=REC-_-PIPHorizontal2_rr-_-203602873-_-204853910-_-N), running at 3000 rpm, to make PCB holes? I read many posts about this and nobody really seems to answer the question. Please do not wander off suggesting to get custom PCBs or other tools (btw i want to get this press for bigger projects too, not willing to get 2 different drill presses). Dont wanna sound arrogant here, just looking for a quick and simple yes/no answer, and explanation for the choice taken (especially on the cons of low RPM).

Thanks!!
Mrchips is correct

Pcb drills normal size 0.2 up to 1mm is common .
Production drill type VHS or diamond speed 150000 ref a minute.
Prototyping drill type VHS or diamond could do with 30000 ref a minute. (slow)
Cooling high air flow.

But any speed could do there is a relation between
Drill diameter number x teeth's ( some drill have 1 cutter and other drills 3 or more cutters
each cutter will take in one rotation 0.xxx mm see drill spec's for used material this is double when you use a common drill two cutters.
This allows you to calculate the maximum to drive your drill into that material . Per rotation .xxx mm)
Material ( steel, PCB polyester, copper, aluminium, wood)
Ref's a minute

Above will deliver speed to move the drill into the material.
But is also a measure for used power and heat in material and drill. (You should find an optimum)

Back to the question the above will grant you to use a very low speed but drill a hole in 1.6mm pcb .3mm goes also slow and to make live miserable a little (1/2 drill size approx ) axial play could break this tiny expensive drill.
Sharping a drill that size is possible but not a nice job.


Picbuster
 

ericgibbs

Joined Jan 29, 2010
10,018
hi Donsa,
I agree with post #2, providing your drill operator is not too heavy handed, 0.6mm,0.8mm and 1mm dia PCB holes are not a problem, when using a 3000rpm drill press.
You can also buy these drill sizes, that have a larger shank diameter, which makes it easier to fit small drills in a regular drill chuck.

Use a hard wooden base on the drill table platform.

E
 

jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
9,384
I agree with those who run relatively slow and feed more slowly too. If you read about feed rates, it is basically chips/edge/revolution. Your goal is not to drill thousands of holes in a few minutes.

This is what I use:
upload_2018-9-19_4-46-28.png

Never had a problem even with #72 drills (0.025) that I use for vias. Have gone smaller with care. Usually run quite slow compared to other recommendations here. I did convert the drill press to a 3-phase motor with VFD (variable frequency drive) so I have a lot of control over the feel of the speed. The pulleys are original and maximum speeds for each setting are all about the same as shown on the plate. I do not clamp the PCB to the table. That is, I let it the drill bit self-center in the pads, and a slower speed helps do that. I do not have CNC. Like Eric suggested, I also put my PCB on a piece of hardwood (usually maple or birch for fine grain) and drill into that.

The thing I would be more worried about is run-out of the chuck and spindle. Does it run smoothly? Can you put a dial gauge on the spindle? Can't do much if the spindle is out. A lousy chuck with the drill off center will probably eat drills a lot faster than running it slower than PCB board houses run their drills. Be sure you have a decent chuck appropriate the the drill shank (probably 0.125") you will be using.
 

Alec_t

Joined Sep 17, 2013
11,274
For just the odd pcb and holes down to ~ 0.5mm a general drill press has been ok for me. Maybe I've been lucky with my drill press or unlucky with my Dremel, but the run-out on the press is actually less than that on the Dremel!
 

Thread Starter

Donsa

Joined Sep 19, 2018
5
Ok guys thanks for all the awesome answers. I think I will go for the low rpm, paying attention to the hole speed. I have seen some videos and the spindle for that particular model seems pretty smooth, the chuck is also centered with very little wobble. I am gonna use 0.6 mm carbide with 1/8" shaft, so that should add some stability. The wood underneath js a good idea too.

Thanks to all for you time, super useful!
 

shortbus

Joined Sep 30, 2009
7,672
I use one for my PCB drilling similar to that one. Run it at the highest speed possible. The main thing with the small PCB drills is keep the drill close to the board. By that I mean don't extend the spindle any farther than you have too.

As some one who was a machinist, I understand what people are saying about "theoretical speed" for drilling the small holes, but that is just what it is called theoretical. A dedicated machine for doing boards is designed for those speeds, but it can be done at lower speeds and is done successfully all of the time.
 

DNA Robotics

Joined Jun 13, 2014
552
The problem I have had with manual drilling on PCBs is feeding the drill bit slow enough and not gouging or breaking at first contact. A lever system like this would give you fine control.
A lot of movement on the lever feeds the drill just a little bit.
Fine feed control.jpg
 

RichardO

Joined May 4, 2013
2,271
The problem I have had with manual drilling on PCBs is feeding the drill bit slow enough and not gouging or breaking at first contact. A lever system like this would give you fine control.
A lot of movement on the lever feeds the drill just a little bit.
Here is another possibility (I have seen something similar used successfully):
http://www.royalproducts.com/product.cfm?catID=16

Royal Sensitive Drill Feeds



The Royal sensitive drill feed provides fingertip control when drilling very small holes on a drill press or milling machine. This tool bypasses the machine’s coarse quill feed, giving the operator better feel and control of the feed rate. Breakage of small diameter drills is greatly reduced and the tendency for drill “walking” is minimized.

The Royal sensitive drill feed has a 1/2" straight shank that can be gripped in a collet or toolholder, and a male J0 taper for mounting a drill chuck. A ball bearing isolates the knurled ring from the rotating spindle.

To operate the Royal sensitive drill feed, simply grasp the free-turning knurled ring and feed into the workpiece with gentle finger pressure. An internal spring enables the drill feed to retract when the ring is released. Total travel is 3/4".

Note: Drill chuck not included.
For information on drill chucks,
please click here.
 
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