The Bantam Tools Desktop PCB Milling Machine was designed to make CNC milling, and in particular making PCBs, easier and more accessible than ever before. We set out to democratize PCB production, putting a powerful tool within reach of engineers, artists, educators, students, and makers of all stripes. To some, however, the software choices available to create PCB design files seem prohibitive and difficult to use. Enter Patchr, innovative new PCB design software that employs an easy-to-use circuit design tool.
The Patchr team is on a mission to simplify PCB design more than ever before. To boot, this powerful tool is fully integrated with our Bantam Tools Desktop PCB Milling Machine. Use Patchr's highly intuitive interface to create the PCB of your innovative dreams and send the file to our mill to make it a physical reality. A match made in CNC heaven. Did we mention that the Patchr platform is free to use? We spoke with founder and CEO Eric Schneider to learn more.
1. What inspired you to create Patchr? Why circuit board design?
We began with a simple idea: to create a tool that made it easy to build what we imagined, without compromise. This was fostered by a pure desire for exploration through creating physical, interactive objects. In looking outward from our own wants and needs, we realized that this was a pretty universal want within the maker/hobbyist/hacker community, and so Patchr was born.
The idea of universal accessibility became a core tenet of our product, and through this, circuit board design seemed like the logical first step to creating the best end-to-end experience for our users, allowing them to focus not only on what they want to build, but also on making quick and iterative changes to their projects, encouraging exploration in their craft.
2. Tell us about the integration between Patchr and the Bantam Tools Desktop PCB Milling Machine.
When we first discovered Bantam Tools, we saw a beacon of hope in the industry, a company with like-minded goals looking to change the way people make through accessible easy-to-use tools. The collaboration with Bantam Tools makes creating circuit boards in Patchr as easy as selecting “export.” You no longer have to worry about formatting files — we handle the details so all you have to do is upload and start milling. Projects that would've taken a week to complete are now taking less than half a day. The world hasn’t seen such a dynamic duo like this since peanut butter and jelly.
3. Why is making PCB design accessible important? What do you see as the potential?
The pace of software innovation has been nothing short of awesome. What used to only be available to the technically inclined is now accessible to anyone with a laptop and an internet connection. Well-thought-out user experiences and intuitive designs are now the norm for most software tools with a notable exception: software to design hardware.
No one has truly designed these hardware tools to be accessible to everyone, allowing engineers, students, designers, and artists to build custom circuit boards. Even in the education space, I’ve noticed a pivotal shift where students are encouraged more than ever to imagine, create, and build. This, coupled with more accessible tools in 3D printing and software, has resulted in the direct need for a tool that empowers anyone with an idea to make it happen.
At Patchr, we believe that hardware tools should be made accessible to anyone who has the dream of building a custom circuit board. We are with you from the onset of your idea, providing a pathway to your finished product, helping make sure your dream becomes a reality.
4. What do you have in the works for Patchr?
I'm beyond excited for what the future brings. Our team is working feverishly to build in new features that no company has attempted with PCB design software. Our main goal is to complete the user journey starting with the onset of an idea with as little stress, headache, and cost to our users as possible.
Along with new features, we'll be releasing several complementary products this fall that will entirely change the way we make. In the near term, get ready to see more of Patchr as we're working on a treasure trove of fun projects with our Labs team in a video series we're calling “Making Sh!t”. Every project we feature will contain all the files you need to build at home on your Bantam Tools Desktop PCB Milling Machine.
Thanks, Eric! We're excited to see what the community will make with Patchr and the Bantam Tools Desktop PCB Milling Machine!
To learn more about Patchr, read Eric's article titled "It’s Time to Fix What’s Broken with Hardware Design."