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Toner transfer pcb irony

Posted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 8:30 pm
by Newz2000
So, as many of you probably known, the photo paper you buy these days, even the cheap stuff, is not really paper, but instead some shiny, slightly porous, plastic feeling material. The pictures you print on it look beautiful, and presumably they last for years with out fading.

Unfortunately, they don't work as good for creating circuit boards. I've got three packs of paper and all of them are too nice. I went ahead and tried one, because I've had marginal success with them in the past, and the transfer came out OK. However, I wanted this one to be better than average... so I started digging.

I happened to notice the sheet of paper that comes in the photo paper packet that contains instructions on how to use the paper was precisely the material I wanted. It was even blank on one side! I snagged it out, printed my board on it, transferred it to the copper and voila! It's probably the nicest transfer I've ever done. If I hadn't been a little hasty in taking the paper off it'd been perfect.

I've heard that people have resorted to using glossy magazines... I haven't tried it yet, nor do I have any glossy magazines I want to cut up (maybe Cosmo is good for something after all?), but I think I will try it.

Just curious what others here are using these days. I'll send pics of my board when I etch them, but it's after 10:00 tonight and I don't think the neighbors would like me running my saw in order to trim the board down.

Posted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 9:54 pm
by hp
I have used the magazine paper method numerous times to make PCBs. I have used them on projects ranging from through hole parts to surface mount and the results are pretty satisfying.

I have a pack of staples brand photo paper that has a paper backing and isn't porous plastic. I have heard this is the #1 type of paper to use, so I might just try it and see how good it really is.


Posted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 4:19 pm
by Dean Huster
I've never tried it, but I wonder how well baking parchment would work. The down-side is that you'd have to cut it to size for the printer first.


Posted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 5:29 pm
by Newz2000
I'm a little concerned with the impact of this material on the inside of my printer.

Anyone have a bad experience with a particular material?

I suspect Christmas catalogs are plentiful, so I'm going to grab a few and stash them away while they're available.

Posted: Mon Dec 25, 2006 2:54 pm
by Gorgon
If you glue [or tape] the catalogue paper on normal copy paper as a backing. You can see the making here. Here it's used normal Scotch tape.

TOK ;)

Posted: Mon Dec 25, 2006 5:37 pm
by philba
I've tried all sorts of paper: photo paper, transparency, magazine paper, inkjet paper, pva (water soluable) paper and label backing paper. I have had decent results with all of them.

I prefer inkjet paper as it is dirt cheap and translucent enough to align double sided artwork. It doesn't take much to get most of the fibers off.

I've tried parchment paper but had poor results because it wasn't smooth enough to get a good print through the laser printer. I've seen other brands that seemed smooth enough but haven't tried it again.

label backing paper (the stuff that you peel labels off of) works really well but is pretty expensive if you buy the labels for the backing...

I had high hopes for the PVA paper - it dissolves in about 1 minute. Unfortunately, it leaves a lot of fibers so it's actually more work than inkjet paper.

Posted: Mon Dec 25, 2006 5:57 pm
by Newz2000
Gorgon wrote:If you glue [or tape] the catalogue paper on normal copy paper as a backing. You can see the making here. Here it's used normal Scotch tape.
Nice guide, I've never seen mentioned the trick about placing the copper on the iron in order to flow the toner to close up little holes. I will have to try that...
philba wrote: I've tried parchment paper but had poor results because it wasn't smooth enough...
So what you're saying is, it's the smoothness, not the material that matters. That's interesting, because all this time I thought there was something magical about some materials that allowed the toner to release from it.

If the smoothness is the key, that explains why magazines don't transfer their print onto the page.

Man, what awesome info. Thanks a lot!

Posted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 4:15 am
by Lenp
I just caught up with this interesting new post and am wondering if there are any advantages in this method over the TTS (blue) method for board making.

We've used the blue film since it's introduction, making hundreds of prototype and small production runs and am curious if it would be worth switching. Are there advantages, other than the saved cost of the blue film? We cut a piece of the film and piggy back it onto a full page sheet to feed through the printer/copier so a full blue sheet is not wasted.

I have had some squashing of fine line artwork with the blue film and for the most part got it resolved by using a modified laminator to better control the heat and pressure.


Posted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 4:24 am
by Lenp
What is the tinning product used in the PCB video? I could not catch the info from the flick! I have used Tin-It and don't care for it.

I also use ammonium persulfate instead of ferric chloride, and, in a heated tank it's about as fast, much cleaner but more expensive. To clean up ferric chloride stains try oxalic acid, also known as 'wood bleach' . It can be found in paint stores for removing stains and black water marks from oak.


Posted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 4:34 am
by Dean Huster
Oxyclean will totally clear a major betadine splash from a virgin white lab coat, using their "dip it in a scalding hot pot of water with Oxyclean" instructions. It disappears "as seen on TV". I wonder how it would work on ferric chloride.


Posted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 5:54 am
by Lenp
I tried Oxyclean and it worked, but, seemingly not as well as oxalic acid. The oxalic acid comes as crystals and a solution is made as directed, or stronger! I sprayed (watch out for the mist) it on the stained fiberglass laundry tub and it was gone! Maybe Oxyclean is a product that contains some oxalic acid!