SMD Solder Paste Stencil Creation with Silhouette Cameo

I made some additional details in a long YouTube movie:

This is far from the first blog post on this, but I wanted to write down exactly what I did to get this working on Windows 7, 64-bit with as little fussing as possible.

1. Buy Silhouette Cameo [NOTE: The v1 I used is no longer available. I’ve heard the V2 with latest firmware does work OK]

2. Decide on material. I originally used the Transparency Film but it’s a little thick, so instead ended up finding that you can buy 3 Mil drafting file individually from art stores.

3. Install USB drivers from CD that came with system – this seems to be required, as installing the software from the website alone wasn’t enough. If you need them I’ve mirrored a copy here.

4. Plug in Cameo device. Check if it appears as a printer:

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If it DOES NOT, screw around with drivers. For me it appeared as “USB Printer Support” for a while, you’ve got to try updating the drivers and forcing it to use the ones from the CD it seems. Eventually you should have success.

5. Share the Cameo device under “Printer Properties”:

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6. Install gerbv

7. Install pstoedit 64-bit or pstoedit 32-bit as appropriate

8. Install Ghostscript 64-bit or Ghostscript 32-bit as appropriate

9. Download copy of gerber2graphtec repo, unzip it somewhere. I’ve linked to my fork of the repo which contains some extra stuff, so if you want the original check the gerber2graphtec pmonta repo

10. Run the GUI. You’ll need to modify paths probably, or at least version numbers. Set the folder share option to match your computer name / printer share:

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11. If you haven’t loaded the Cameo before, basically check out the booklet that came with it. Set the cutting depth to ‘1’ on the blade and shove it into the machine. Peel back the blue sheet off the ‘cutting mat’, and stick the transparency to the mat.

12. Load a test gerber, convert it (check the output of the command line doesn’t have errors), and send onward! For me things ‘just worked’.

13. You can use the generate test square feature I added to generated the test pattern. Forces increase from 1 to 30 as it draws the squares.

10 thoughts on “SMD Solder Paste Stencil Creation with Silhouette Cameo”

  1. I love your turotial and i have a silhouette portrait.i tried your methods the machine runs with ‘test examples’smoothly.but i can’t seem to find how the example files were made.these are just some .gbr files.Can you share me how to generate these .gbr files?

    Thanks

    1. They are generated by your software – I’m using Eagle for example, and it has a ‘solder paste’ layer. If you search for “generating stencil gerber files + your CAD software name” should give some info.

  2. Do you know what is the smallest component for which a hole can be cut? For example, can you make a stencil for 0402 passives or 0.5 mm pitch qfp’s?

    1. I used it for 0402 and 0.5mm QFPs with success. For the QFPs you might need to tune the size of the aperture depending on your paste, as I was getting a little too much be default and would short across a few pins.

  3. Is possible to center the design on the cutting area before starting the cutting task, to avoid cutted areas outside of the stencil?
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Yeah I manually have to fiddle with the settings… I’ve been meaning to fix/update the script to preview the cut or otherwise allow you to move it around, but haven’t had time yet!

  4. Thanks a lot for you tutorial,

    I do have some questions, about the
    1- offset : is it what is the unit & is it X,Y?
    2- Boarder how to disable it ?
    3- Matrix , What does it mean

    Thanks

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