Laser Cutting a Paper Solder Paste Stencil

In the process of working on a PCB for another project, I ended up with a component that was harder to solder properly than I had originally expected, and had not ordered a solder paste stencil with the board.

I ended up thinking if I could find reasonable material, I could cut a stencil for this part using my laser cutter. Some stencils are made of kapton, but I don’t have any larger sheets of kapton, nor do I think my 10W diode laser would cut it.

I ended up finding that my standard printer paper was just about the right thickness for a stencil, at about 4 to 5 thousandths of an inch thick. I was a bit worried that the finer features between the pads might tear, but it was worth trying.

Turns out, that at least for low quantities, paper makes a pretty reasonable homebrew stencil material.

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