Inkjet or laser printer for UV PCB making

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Markd77, Nov 12, 2009.

  1. Markd77

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Sep 7, 2009
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    I'm getting a new printer anyway and want to make PCBs by printing onto transparency paper, UV exposing and then etching. Would you advise getting a laser or inkjet printer for best results and how much do the results differ?
     
  2. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    I've been hearing about some new techniques for making PCBs with inkjets by directly printing on the copper (major modification of the printer is required). The old tried and true technique is still using a laser printer though.

    http://www.fullnet.com/~tomg/gooteepc.htm

    *************

    Just reread the part about using UV, which means you want photographic. IMO, laser is still the way to go, as the toner is a lot darker, but I've never gotten the photographic method to work for me.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2009
  3. k7elp60

    Senior Member

    Nov 4, 2008
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    I have been making PCB's for over 4 years in the method you describe. I use an Epson R200 to print my transparancies. It is an injet printer.
    Attached is the bottom of one of my boards. This board is about 3"X4".
     
  4. bluebrakes

    Active Member

    Oct 17, 2009
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    I've not tried inkjet printer method, I use the press-n-peel stuff on my brother 1430 laser printer. It works quite well, although it doesn't leave perfect traces in places. Despite the time you leave the iron on (sometimes i take 10mins with it).

    a couple of the traces can be a little jaggered or have breaks in them,which require a touch up with a pen. For this, I use fine tip paint markers (not pernament marker).

    I think the best method, which of course is fairly expensive, is using photosentive boards and UV box. I used this method at school and certainly gives the best results.
     
  5. AlexR

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 16, 2008
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    It depends on the printer.
    A good photo quality inkjet running at its maximum resolution works very well producing high resolution transparencies with good density but most of the general office quality inkjets I've tried can't produce enough density to give reliable results.
     
  6. shortbus

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 30, 2009
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    hi, according to the guys at; http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/Homebrew_PCBs/
    the Brother laser printers don't work to good for toner transfer because of the toner brother uses.
     
  7. Markd77

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Sep 7, 2009
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    That looks like an excellent quality PCB, K7ELP60, I think I'm going to go with a photo type inkjet printer. I can always play with the exposure time a bit or photocopy it if all else fails. The laser printer I was looking at was quite a bit more expensive.
    Thanks everyone.
     
  8. GetDeviceInfo

    Senior Member

    Jun 7, 2009
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    problem with inkjet is the loss of contrast due to static build up on the plastic. On the other hand, my old HP laserjet leaves a heat ripple. I print 3 copies of the circuit, and on a sheet of glass over illumination, use a magnifyer to line up at least two sheets.

    A bigger problem for me is uniformity of etch for the higher density boards. Need to build that etch tank soon.
     
  9. spinnaker

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 29, 2009
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    Supposedly places like Kinkos will print your transparencies for a $1. Has anyone tried this?
     
  10. bluebrakes

    Active Member

    Oct 17, 2009
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    I had read something like that myself, but I don't seem to have too much of a problem. Having said that, I've not tried another laser printer to test the differences.
     
  11. bluebrakes

    Active Member

    Oct 17, 2009
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    I had to make another copy of a board I made a week ago. It seems the results I get with Press-N-Peel is inconsistent. I think I may have to make the jump to the UV photosensitive technique.

    Is it an expensive route and what are people's experiences with this?
     
  12. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
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    I have never not used the technique, as the results are consistently good - http://forum.allaboutcircuits.com/showthread.php?t=12474

    I do have the advantage of a Kepro exposure frame and spray etcher. That may make a huge difference.

    One hint - don't use heavier foil than necessary. The 2 oz stuff tends to get undercut by the etchant.
     
  13. Darren Holdstock

    Active Member

    Feb 10, 2009
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    I can make very nice boards with 1:1 photopositives printed onto OHP film from a cheap HP inkjet. As long as I don't get the artwork wet, of course. 0.25 mm tracks with 0.25 mm clearances are quite possible, double sided if you like.

    Holding the photopositive up to the light, it does appear that the ink is far from opaque. But if the board isn't massively over-exposed at the UV stage then this doesn't seem to matter.
     
  14. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
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    If you get pitting with the laser transparency, you can darken it with a dry erase marker, as described here: http://forum.allaboutcircuits.com/showthread.php?t=12474

    I have that problem with my HP LJ4101mfp. It senses the transparency film and simply will not make a very dark transparency. Until I get a new printer, I prefer inkjet for the transparency, but the laserjet is certainly usable.

    John
     
  15. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
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    I tried a Sharpie for that purpose once, and saw the photosensitive film just melt away from around the darkened line. Dry erase may do well, but don't use a permanent marker using solvents in the ink.
     
  16. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
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    1) What photosensitive film? I am referring to the transparency produced by the laser printer.

    2) That's why dry erase works. It has minimally aggressive organic solvents in it. Apparently, just enough to stick to a hydrophobic surface without melting into it (i.e., it is dry erase). Water-based ink "might" work, but it beads up. Add a little polyethylene glycol or various methylated glycols, and it might work too, but I didn't see the need to re-invent a dry-erase marker.

    John
     
  17. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
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    Sorry for the confusion - I use photoresist film coated PCB stock. The plastic is pretty fragile, even before the UV softens it.
     
  18. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
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    @beenthere,

    I agree. I would never mess with the photoresist directly. Here is a decent review (http://chem.chem.rochester.edu/~chem421/polymod2.htm). Go to the Novolak section to see approximately what the reaction is. Note formation of the carboxylic acid, which is what allows the exposed sections to be removed with an alkaline developer.

    John
     
  19. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
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    That's the fun part. I applied the Sharpie and allowed several minutes to pass, until no detectable smell was still present. The line was on a transparency, by the way. But the resist still melted away when I laid the transparency on it.
     
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