Soldermask on track only - solution?

I think Add possibility to "knockout layers" to non-copper zones (#3983) · Issues · KiCad / KiCad Source Code / kicad · GitLab would be an adequate solution for the problem. You would add “F.Mask” as a “knockout” layer to a mask layer zone, with some clearance. It would draw zone fills around all copper which in the mask layer means taking off the mask everywhere except on copper. Pads would of course be already handled by having Mask activated in the pad properties.

You can add a thumb up for that issue to vote for it.

Yes, is covered soldermask but only on copper areas: track, pads and ground planes - ONLY :slight_smile:

I was thinking about the option of copying the previously created shape to a different layer than the signal layer - copying only graphics, without network attributes etc. Only in this way can I do what I wanted in a relatively fast and accurate manner.

Great idea, but as I can see it is two years ago old and nothing else is happening to it.

It is a pity that the kicad gerber viewer does not have a 3d view of the board implemented - the board itself without any elements, of course.

There’s only little interest expressed there by the end users, so… If you want it to be implemented (which wouldn’t help you right now, of course) you should vote for it. IMO it would be a good feature because it’s generic and could help for many use cases. For example, your use case was totally unanticipated, but the feature would have helped.

Experiment with Export and Import. May be going through external file you can do what you need.
Once I designed complicated PCB shape with LibreCAD and imported it into KiCad. I don’t know the other possibilities, but as I remember there were discussions here where people defined PCB with graphic programs and used KiCad just as a translator to gerber to get PCB (Art-PCB) manufactured.

I don’t know how to vote for this function - there is no “vote” button on the gitlab - I’m not a programmer and maybe I don’t know all the gitlab functions.

You must be correctly logged in to gitlab (so you need a gitlab-account).
Than you can see a thumbs-up/thumbs-down-icon directly beneath the original issue. (Currently this issue is already voted with 1x thumbs-up)

It’s been asked a few times but it doesn’t appear to have been answered…


Is it for visual effect or some RF consideration?

NOTE if you are drawing mask over the traces you need to ensure it is wider than that traces to ensure it covers all 3 edges of the trace

Also you might want to check with whatever fabhouse you want to use, many might not be happy to mask off soo much of a card

You mean “so little."

Read once more paying particular attention to ‘off’.


Which is why I use the cooper pour area builder for this - then I have exactly and evenly larger mask paths than signal paths.
Then I just delete the paths and export the modified F / B_Cu layer as gerber and save it as F / B_Mask.
It is a pity that I cannot do it natively in Kicad, then I would also have a 3D preview of the board itself.

Honestly, only two things are needed to make a PCB: positive and negative ps files with the path drawing and excellon NC files, no gerber’s needed - I know it from experience - that’s how I commissioned PCBs 20 years ago.

I will go further - no files needed :slight_smile:
In our (firm) beginnings (1988) I used to plot (on a borrowed plotter) directly from PCB software path drawing on the back side of the wall calendar cards in a 2:1 scale. Then I went to the photographer with it to get the photographic films (1:1). Two such films glued together at the edges were used by PCB manufacturer to make PCB. In the center of pads there were small holes helping to drill hole at right place. I was using a large hand drill that could handle drills from 1.5mm up. I wrapped the 1mm drill with a piece of drooling paper so that it could be attached to the drill with a tip protruding only a few mm (so as not to break the drill bit).

1 Like

“Mask off” means to apply solder mask to an area.
In this case, the solder mask is applied to a mach smaller area than normal, hence the only possible issue with the PCB house might be how little solder mask they are applying.

But, the idea is ridiculous. I could see a huge manufacturer wanting to save a few cents per board by only applying solder mask over the traces, but it couldn’t possibly be a significant savings.

Yeah, no PCB house is going to do that these days.
They would need to be able to digitize the location of the pads to generate a drill file - an NC drill file is never going to match a photographically reduced film.

I know, because this is how I used to make PCBs 40 years ago.

I understood that some area is masked, and if you don’t pot a mask on a part of that area then you take the mask off that area. But English is not my strong side.

In this instance I am actually referring to the PCB fabrication process where they PHYSICALLY “mask off” area’s of the PCB before applying the wet resist. What is being asked here is a fabricator applies their mask to 99% of the card instead of the 1% of the card (ie pads)

That’s not how it’s done.

1 Like