I just bought a laminator. Any tips?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by spinnaker, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. spinnaker

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  2. THE_RB

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    Mine is different from that one, but I found a good mod was to trim some of the plastic on the entry and exit slots.

    That gave better access for feeding small PCBs and also stopped a problem where the exiting PCB would sometimes touch the plastic and get scratched.

    If it does not get hot enough with the dial cranked up to full; they normally use a resistive thermistor, so you can add extra heat range by changing a resistor in the pot circuit or in the thermistor circuit.

    A non-contact infrared thermometer is handy to measure the temp of the exiting PCBs, to know when they are "done" as you usually have to feed the PCB a few times.

    I use a small strip of laserprinter white paper adhesive label (like you stick on envelopes)to stick the artwork to the PCB, the laserprinter label glue holds up fine at higher temps, better than most adhesive tapes etc and the paper label does not shrink or move.
     
  3. spinnaker

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    Thanks for the tips.


    How did you trim the plastic? Is it easily trimmed with a exacto knife? (I have not had it apart yet).

    Would simply adding a resistor in series with the pot do the job? Any guess on value and wattage? Or would I have to change out the pot?
     
  4. R!f@@

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    Yaaa..do not use it the way I did
     
  5. jrm

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    My GBC looks a little different than the image you posted but If the drive system is the same as the older model you can reverse the two drive gears to slow the feed down.
     
  6. Wendy

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    With mine it isn't the feed speed, it is the roller width. If anyone figures how how to widen it just a hair I'm interested. I opened mine up, and came up clueless.

    Yours looks somewhat similar to mine. I have no problem with the plastic on the input and output at all, but the rollers are just too close together. I mount my works on a piece of paper so I can assist the motors in getting the work through the feed mechanism (in other words, I grab the paper and pull it through!).

    It seems to me to be a small scale marketing opportunity here, either in retrofits or laminators made for the function.
     
  7. jrm

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    I couldn't think of an easy way to increase the distance either other than a major rebuild. I thought about designing adjustable replacement end plates and then just publishing the .stl files so people could could just order the parts from a rapid prototype house if they were interested. RedeyeRPM has a Polyphenylsulfone material that could handle the heat. The part costs would pretty high though so I never followed through with it.

    http://www.pulsarprofx.com/pcbfx/ma...ations/H-220/H-220_Laminator_Modification.pdf

    The gear swap mod helps it with the thicker 1/16th boards somewhat but it still has problems with boards wider than about 5". It works well with the 1/32" boards.
     
  8. bertus

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  9. Wendy

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    I was the one that suggested he post that thread, I still think it is quite good. Unfortunately with the GBC units it doesn't seem to apply.

    Fortunately the heating element on the GBC models do get hot enough, so it is good to go. I just have to wrestle with it to use it.
     
  10. spinnaker

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    Well I tried feeding a board right out of the box and it jammed. Now I can't get the board out. There is supposed to be some kind of reverse feature. I guess I will have to read the manual. :)

    It appears the board gets fed at an angle. It does not seem to be a straight shot to the exit.

    And it started feeding so nicely, I thought for sure it was going to feed all the way.
     
  11. spinnaker

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    Well I found the culprit.

    It was one of these:

    [​IMG]

    There are 4 of them that are on spring loaded screws. The are spaced evenly along the top heating element. They appear to be some kind of guide?

    After removal the board fed perfectly.
     
  12. THE_RB

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    I pulled the cover off and used a Dremel and a file. You may be able to "whittle" away at it with a Stanley knife.

    Trimming the plastic can allow better access to feed and see the board too.

    If the controller is like mine it is an electronic controller PCB, with a little pot (not a big power pot or anything).

    From memory my temp sensor was a NTC thermistor, that gets lower R for higher temp. I considered adding a resistor in series with the thermistor, which would trick it into making a higher temperature. But fortunately there was a small trimpot on the PCB so I just adjusted that up to turn the heat up.

    Since yours has a heat control knob it may get hot enough already, when turned up full. :)
     
  13. EB255GTX

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    FWIW I use a cheap GBC with no mods other than the temperature increase (hack the thermistor series resistor) and I have made hundreds of boards with great sucess.

    I think the biggest contributor to my sucesses is that i almost always use 0.8mm board (1/32").

    Hadn't though about modifying the plastic "shelf" on the feed in/out path - thanks for the tip!
     
  14. spinnaker

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    Thanks. See my post above. There were 4 "guides" I had to remove. Other than that there were no other plastic obstructions.

    I'll look for a trim pot Thanks.

    But I fired it up last night and it seems to get pretty darn hot out of th box. I am going to try it with toner transfer tonight.
     
  15. EB255GTX

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    The temperature you need will depend on things like the brand of toner and laminator, but is probably higher than the machine runs out of the box. As an idea I needed 170degC average for my GBC laminator to work perfectly with my Canon laser printer with OEM toner. Beware of non original toner refills.....

    I also found that changing the temperature to suit toner transfer makes the laminator useless for document pouches-they wrinkle and melt slightly if I try them through the modified laminator.
     
  16. CraigHB

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    I used one of these laminators.

    I pulled out the heater/roller assembly and just chucked the rest. I wired up the motor and heater straight to mains power. The heater/roller has a little thermostatic switch on the bottom wired in-line with the heating element. That switch is actually a safety, but it cycles the heater right around 170 degrees Celsius. Gets the rollers the perfect temp for toner transfer in about 2 minutes, a little over 300F or 150C. I measured that manually with my DMM temp probe.

    I also pulled the upper plate for the output tray from the heater/roller assembly. Just had to loosen up one of the ends. It looked a little tight for a PCB so I removed the upper plate.

    I'm getting really nice transfers with it. The unit does get as hot as it can handle so I don't know how long it's going to last. The ends of the heater/roller assembly are high temp plastic so the roller bearings might wear out fast running at maximum tolerable temp.
     
  17. EB255GTX

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    The plastic case on mine has deformed a bit from the extra heat, but it has been going strong for 3 years and hundreds of PCBs :)

    For the price I'm happy to buy one every couple of years!

    The temperature setting will need some experimentation though - you want the toner to hit it's plastic region and become soft and sticky to get a good transfer....too cold and it either won't transfer or will not adhere well to the copper, and too hot it becomes liquid and will smear/smudge/blur.

    The good news is that a) it's not a 1 or 2 degree window, it's actually quite tolerant and b) during testing all you need to do is clean the board off with solvent and retest until you hit the mark.
     
  18. Wendy

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    I lay my stock on paper, and use the paper to force it through machine. The max temp setting works well. I also feed it multiple times.

    I am happy with the results though.
     
  19. spinnaker

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    Five passes. No modification to the heating circuit. Initial tests make this one look like a winner:

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Wendy

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    Yeah, I think it will work. It made all the difference for my projects. What are you planning on for etchant?
     
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