Selecting a Solder Paste Stencil
Solder paste stencil is a necessity during the fabrication process of printed circuit boards. When you’re ready to order a solder paste stencil, you have to decide what material you want, metal or polyimide.
We recommend getting a stencil made out of some kind of metal, generally, stainless steel, if you know you’ll be using it for hundreds of prototypes. This material tends to be overkill for many hobbyist designers who need only to assemble a few prototypes, but it’s a good option to keep in mind if you’re not on a budget.
For hobbyist designers just working with a handful of prototypes we recommend getting a stencil made out of polyimide, which is a synthetic polymer. These laser cut stencils provide a low cost alternative to metal stencils.
You can purchase polyimide and stainless steel stencils for around $5 to $10. There are many good companies serving the electronics community for years and offers a low-cost alternative for designers that need low volume PCB stencils. They have a simple process of uploading your design on their website, which lets you see how your stencil will look before it’s produced. You can also add custom engraving to your stencil for things like filenames, board revisions, dates, or project names.