creating PCB etch resist with inkjet printer?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by DaveH, Jun 3, 2009.

  1. DaveH

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Jan 1, 2009
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    I've seen several web sites where people claim to have used a laser printer to print out their pcb trace pattern on special glossy paper, then using a hot iron, fuse the toner from the paper onto the copper clad then etch in FeCl.

    Has anyone tried this method with an cheap inkjet?

    I was thinking even if it didn't work too well, at least the pattern will be clearly outlined on the copper so before etching I could go over the pattern with an etch resist pen. I don't mind if the board doesn't look that professional, I just want it to be good electrically. I'm sure my hand will be steady enough to produce tracks with just as little parasitic inductance as my layout software!

    I'm using FreePCB, it's a bit manually intensive, but pretty impressive once you get how to use it.

    Has anyone ever tried making their own double sided board at home? How do make plated through hole vias, just a bit of wire?
     
  2. kammenos

    Active Member

    Aug 3, 2008
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    Cheap inkjet just won't do. You need to have toner on the paper.
     
  3. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
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  4. Mad Professor

    Active Member

    Apr 15, 2009
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    I have been using the toner transfer for some time now.

    I 1st started with using the blue press n peel paper and I could just not get on with out.

    I am now using standard inkjet glossy paper with my samsung laser printer and I get on much better.

    I happly make single and dual sided boards.

    I have even tried the inkject direct printing, but I think the ink in the cannon is the worng time so it just does not stick to the copper clad.
     
  5. Zenock

    Active Member

    Jun 1, 2009
    36
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    I have done the toner transfer method. Some notes...

    Inkjet doesn't work because it doesn't transfer with heat.

    With toner when you apply heat the toner melts and sticks/bonds to the copper. The reason you use glossy paper is the toner tends to puddle on the paper instead of being absorbed into the paper. This excess toner puddled on the paper is what then sticks/bonds to the copper plate.

    I've used purchased glossy paper. However, what has worked much much better for me is pages from magazines. Print on the magazine is done before the magazine is glossed. So only the toner on top of the gloss melts to the board.

    I have read about a system where a gentleman was modifying an inkjet printer to print his circuit directly to the copper clad board. I don't know how well this worked out for him. I guess it depends on how well the ink resists.

    I've also seen where people print their circuit on trasparencies using an inkjet printer. They are then able to use this mask for copperclad boards with photo resist and a UV light.

    I have done the double sided boards using the toner transfer method in which case I used through wires for the vias. But I was using SMDs. I like the idea listed above for through hole parts.

    Z
     
  6. DaveH

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Jan 1, 2009
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    Damn! - I was hoping people would say inkjet works also.

    I was thinking of taking my trace layout to a print shop and getting a whole lot of board traces done on 1 side of A4. Trouble with that is that they don't understand what it's for and I reckon it will take some trial and error to get the right amount of toner and paper combination right. It costs quite a bit though.

    I think the solution is I've got to draw it out by hand with my etch resist pen. I have a very old pen years ago, it's still got ink in it and I've check in one of my drawers, I have a sheet of etch resist IC pad transfers and etch resist track tape too.

    Beenthere - good idea for getting to other side of the board.

    Not sure how i'd mask up a the whole side of one of the sides though - I mean if one side is fully used as a ground plane. I might try masking tape, or I'll run out of ink in my pen.
     
  7. Zenock

    Active Member

    Jun 1, 2009
    36
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    Dave H --

    Print it out on your inkjet then run it through a photocopy machine they use toner. Most of them have slot where you can put your own paper. This is what I did.

    For the ground plane I printed out a solid black square slightly bigger than the circuit board I was building. It was easy.

    Good luck,
    Z
     
  8. bertus

    Administrator

    Apr 5, 2008
    15,645
    2,344
    Hello,

    When using a photo copier, take the highest possible density and contrast.

    Greetings,
    Bertus
     
  9. Zenock

    Active Member

    Jun 1, 2009
    36
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    bertus --

    Yeah I should have pointed that out except that if you get the contrast too high sometimes (on junky copiers) you will get a grey over all tint. So play with it a bit, copies are cheap. The idea is to find the setting that gives you the most toner with the cleanest lines.

    Z
     
  10. DaveH

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Jan 1, 2009
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    Hey thanks guys. That's a fantastic idea, I have a few sample glossy sheets of inkjet paper that I got free with my inkjet printer.

    I'll take that to a print shop and get them to photocopy my layout onto that - trying to get maximum contrast and density as you say.

    You've saved me a lot of work! Mmm... I'm wondering how to save money on the electricity costs of the iron now
    :)
    Hey, any ideas on how to get free electricity - I need quite a bit I'm running some massive analog LTspice IV simulations and my laptop is nearly melting with the increased current drain? They were jokes - well sort of.
     
  11. Zenock

    Active Member

    Jun 1, 2009
    36
    1
    DaveH--

    If you can get them to do it on glossy pages torn from a magazine it will work fine and save you a lot money. Where I am there are lots of copy shops where you run the photocopier. So I was able to do this without having to explain to anyone what I was doing.

    Z
     
  12. DaveH

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Jan 1, 2009
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    Do you mean like the glossy cover of a magazine or the pages within it? I would have thought that the pages within it aren't as glossy as the cover.

    Can you give me a magazine title I'll look out for it and then I'll know how much glossiness you mean.
     
  13. Zenock

    Active Member

    Jun 1, 2009
    36
    1
    DON'T use the cover. Use the pages within.

    At my desk right now I have TechNet Magizine it's pages would work fine. Bu thtere are literally thousands of magazines that will work. Just has to be the glossy kind.

    I did a quick search and found this...

    http://www.riccibitti.com/pcb/pcb.htm

    It's pretty much EXACTLY what I did although this isn't what I was following.

    I did not use the etchant he shows. I used Muratic Acid and Hydrogen peroxide. (DO NOT JUST MIX THESE TOGETHER! Doing so in the wrong quantities or in the wrong order can be DANGEROUS! Always pour ACID into Hydrogen Peroxide, not the other way around. There are pleanty of web sites that give instructions on this. Here is one... http://joshuagalloway.com/pcb.html. That's not the one I used either. If you don't like that one, just do a search and I'm sure you will find it.)

    Z
     
  14. DaveH

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Jan 1, 2009
    53
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    Thanks for this great information.
     
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