How to remove all solder mask (and silkscreen)

Hi, I’m new to KiCad. I want to omit all solder mask and silkscreen from a design, so the bare copper layer (and the PCB material itself) are exposed. I’ve found multiple bits of info on removing solder mask (like this video) and it seems simple enough but it’s not working for me-- maybe this is different in version 7?

I.e, I select F.Mask, use the “Add a Filled Zone” tool, click in the PCB, which pops up the dialog “Non Copper Zone Properties”. I click OK to accept the defaults there and then draw a rectangle, which has the hatched edges-- so far, this is what everyone says to do. But when I do 3D View, there’s no change-- the solder mask is clearly still present. What am I doing wrong?

Ditto with silkscreen-- I don’t want to (say) edit every footprint individually, I just want to turn off all screened stuff (which I assume a fab would do anyway if there’s no solder mask to print on, but I want to make sure the files are correct).

Any thoughts? Thanks!

The solder mask & silk screen will be on separate layer files - so don’t send those files to the fab house. And perhaps add a note to say that you do not want mask and silk screen. Bare copper will oxidise - are you sure that you want this? It may cost more for the fab house to remove your boards part way through their manufacturing process.

Thanks. I don’t mean that the actual result should be bare copper-- just that the F.Cu layer is exposed. My understanding (perhaps incorrect) is that exposed copper would end up being tinned just as e.g. any solderable pads and untented vias would be. Am I wrong about that?

I have discovered that the “filled zone” in the mask area does in fact remove the mask, but the “3d view” doesn’t update immediately-- I found that if I run DRC it will trigger the update to that visual. Maybe that’s a bug?

Anyway still trying to figure out similar solution for the silkscreen. Thanks

Maybe an unsophisticated method? Backup the .kicad_pcb file. In the layout editor delete all F.Silk objects, generate only that gerber, then restore the backed up .kicad_pcb file. It’ll probably result in a minimal F.Silk file with no objects.

You can remove those (or any other layers) from File > Board Setup. Hover over the “ticks” for explanations for each layer.

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Ah, thanks for this makes sense. (Removing the mask layer does not “remove” it from the 3d preview, but no big deal.)

To update zones (copper or not), you have to press B or use the appropriate menu option. As you found out, DRC usually also triggers zone refilling.

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How does that differ from not generating that Gerber in plot? Which happens?

  • Not show that layer at all in the editor
  • Not accept any objects on that layer
  • Not output that layer

I just wonder whether the fab will query a missing F.Silk file. If they don’t object, then one could simply not include that file in the zip.


The only difference is the board creator can view the PCB without the mask and/or silk, before reaching the create gerber stage.

The layer can really only be switched off after the board is finished, otherwise there is no way of identifying footprints etc.

To avoid confusion, gerbers sent without either/and the two layers should contain explicit notes that either/both are not required for production.

I suppose it all boils down to either not sending the gerbers or not having the gerbers to send :thinking:

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Even if you send the layer, you must explain what you want in the notes going with the order. Usually they will consider that there is an error if the mask layer is missing, or if it’s showing a zone over the entire board. But with the proper explanation it’s possible to get it.

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