You know when you get struck with that flash of brilliance for an invention? The one which keeps you up at night as you toss and turn dreaming about how to make it into reality?
We have all been there! Once the dust settles and you know exactly the circuitry you need to make your binary wishes come true, you create your PCB and then the wait begins.
Having PCB's made today takes FOREVER and feels like they are being delivered by carrier pigeon, towed on a tortoises back.
It's excruciatingly slow isn't it?
What if you didn't have to buy prototype boards, solder them up and hope you wired it right, or send them out for a "small inexpensive" run at a local PCB house, or go off shore and get'em cheap?
No matter which way you try, IT'S SLLLLLOOOOWWWWW!
What if I told you that you could make your own PCB's out of your home blazingly fast and at an affordable price?
Blasphemous right? Well it's true, and it's called Prometheus!
This insanely cool CNC with a name suitable for the Gods is one bad machine.
Capable of making double sided boards in mere minutes, imagine how much faster you could crank out product if you could iterate from Rev A to Rev D in an afternoon instead of weeks or months.
Prometheus is the brain child of Rocco Tuccio, a physicist turned maker/Roboticist & Software engineer.
He created it because he saw the need to dramatically change the way the world currently creates small run PCB's.
Me personally, I think he is really about to turn the PCB world on its head.
With incredibly small trace widths down to 4 mils and 5 mil spaces, you would be hard pressed to find a better more capable machine at twice the price of Prometheus.
For a comparable machine, you would spend at least $8,500!
AT LEAST $8,500 BUCKS and that's on the low end.
So how was Rocco able to make such a vastly superior machine at almost a quarter of the price of the big guys?
In a word, spindle! The spindle which Prometheus uses is completely custom.
Normally this is the more expensive route.
However in this case, the opposite turned out to be true since he was able to strip out any unnecessary size, weight, specifications which were not absolutely necessary to Prometheus.
One Stop Shop
Prometheus is truly a one stop shop for PCB's, simply create your PCB's in whatever program you like.
Export your gerbers and import them into his custom software called ProCam and watch as your PCB comes to life.
Right from his store, you can purchase everything you need to get going from Prometheus to bits, to the copper boards.
Clever Waste Capturing
As with all CNC type machines, the material which is being ripped apart from the core material has to go somewhere. Most machines (like Xcarve) have some sort of vaccum system which sucks away debris as it cuts.
But like the rest of Prometheus, it changed the game on that as well and improved upon it.
How? Mineral oil! Yup, mineral oil.
Before starting up the machine to begin creating your masterpiece, simple pour some mineral oil onto the board. As the bit begins to create your lans, the mineral oil serves two purposes.
First, to aid in heat dispersion as the bit cuts through the copper. Secondly, to trap the debris! As you can see in the video on Rocco's website, the debris is suspended in the mineral oil and can be easily removed after the board has been routed.
By The Numbers
While creating the Dr.Duino Arduino Uno Kit, it took 4 revisions before I got it just right. With each revision I made a small run of boards (three to be exact) and had them expedited which meant 7-10 business day turn around not including shipping delays.
Each spin of boards cost me a little less then $200 bucks each, mainly due to expedited fees. So after $800 bucks and about 60 business days I had completed my design. That's over 2 months to complete the design!
For an extra $1k (if you pre-order Prometheus now) I could have plowed through all 4 versions in a few days.
On the flip side, I could have also paid roughly $50 bucks per spin and waited 20-30 business days before getting my hands on just one version. My total spend would have only been $200 bucks but a total design time of 4-5 months.
For me, Prometheus is a no brainer and would save me a ton of cash in the long run. I usually concoct some weird device once or twice per year. If we assume a minimum of 3-4 revs per design, the total cost per year would be somewhere between $1200 - $1600 per year.
Not to mention all of the time wasted while waiting for the boards to come in.
With that, I say welcome Prometheus, now is a great time to shake things up!