Thoughts on these laser printers?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by GScapes, Dec 7, 2013.

  1. GScapes

    Thread Starter New Member

    Dec 7, 2013
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    I found a couple older threads regarding laser printers and want to ask about a couple I've recently found on Tiger Direct. I am a jewelry artist but want to use the toner transfer method to etch some copper with designs for jewelry to keep this on topic, I may create some PCBs as well. I'm heading to Harbor Freight to pick up a laminator to alter but I am a bit lost on the printer aspect - I want to have it at home vs go to a print shop, but I really don't want to throw money down the drain by getting something I can't use. It sounds like you are the experts, so I will defer to your opinions.

    First one is the less expensive choice, but I'm not sure what 600x600x2 means...
    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=8512606&sku=H24-30361 HP

    The second will be more expensive (toner seems to be the culprit) but has higher resolution (and is wired- that isn't a complete dealbreaker but does make things more difficult) http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=8674275&sku=XAM-102110134

    Any insight you can give is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
     
  2. THE_RB

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 11, 2008
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    Hi and welcome to the forum. :)

    I would do a bit of searching for more info. I remember reading that some brands of laser printers have a toner that does not work well for PCB transfer.

    I have used my Canon laserprinter and it works well with the Canon brand toner cartridge.

    Also you usually need to fiddle with the printer settings for paper type (on some paper settings it puts down extra toner) and "extra dark" etc to make sure you get a thick toner layer.

    You probably need to modify the laminator too to make it slower, unless you want to run the PCB through 10 times! On my laminator (just a cheap one) it had a trimpot on its internal controller PCB to control the heat. That is a better type than some laminators that just have a thermal switch at a fixed temp.

    There are a few good threads here on this forum about "PCB toner transfer" so it's worth doing a forum search. :)
     
  3. GScapes

    Thread Starter New Member

    Dec 7, 2013
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    Thank you- the reason why I was looking at these two is that they seem to both have a relatively low price-point. I think I've already read the similar threads (that's how I found this great forum and know to avoid Brother printers :) ) but a lot of the printers that are mentioned are either no longer manufactured or they're beyond what I am comfortable spending at this point. I've checked craigslist and freecycle in my area due to forum suggestions without any real luck.

    I plan on reversing the gears on the HF laminator and have a video bookmarked to make sure I do it right!
     
  4. strantor

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
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    Hey, neat idea! Any details about that would add value to this thread.
     
  5. strantor

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    I like the second printer BTW.
     
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  6. GScapes

    Thread Starter New Member

    Dec 7, 2013
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  7. GScapes

    Thread Starter New Member

    Dec 7, 2013
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    I'm leaning towards that one as well having done more general research, but still don't have any confirmation about that one working for PCBs. I just received an email about a local printer HP Color Laser Jet 2820 Office Printer that is $30 but they're not sure on the toner level. It's $30 so not bad but if I need to buy toner right away, I might not actually be saving anything.

    Edit: Apparently that one is no longer available for the $70 or so bucks they were selling it for. Now the option it seems would be the Samsung SL-M2825DW or the Samsung ML-2165W. Thoughts on these?

    As an aside, has anyone thought of making a sticky with a list of printers/toners people have used and can verify success with?
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2013
  8. strantor

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
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    As far as I know, any printer that's not a brother should work. I've had success on many printers without seeking them out based on their known aptitude for toner transfer. I have a brother printer, and I can even make that work, with enough heat.
     
  9. MikeLalonde

    New Member

    Dec 8, 2013
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    600x600x2 is just a fancy way of saying '1,200 dpi'. We have a P1102w at work and it is a great little printer, not too over priced and the toner has lasted well over 8 months now.

    Michael Lalonde - Sudbury Ontario
    <SNIP>
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 9, 2013
  10. shortbus

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  11. BobTPH

    Active Member

    Jun 5, 2013
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    I have the HP P1102w and use it for toner transfer. I am completely satisfied with it.

    Edit:

    I just noticed that you are looking for modifying a Harbor Freight laminator as well. I have done that too!

    I had to change the thermostat from 125C to 160C, and then I built a circuit to slow it down by turning the motor on for 1/2 second and off for a variable number of seconds. 5 seconds off works perfectly.

    If you want more details I can provide them.

    Bob
     
  12. GScapes

    Thread Starter New Member

    Dec 7, 2013
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    Hi Bob,

    I used it as-is (I thought there were 2 gears and to my surprise there were 3!) and it just took a long time. I just ordered another one, different brand, because it was super cheap (under 9 bucks) so I will see if that one performs better. I would love details on modding the harbor freight one though! Thanks!
     
  13. BobTPH

    Active Member

    Jun 5, 2013
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    I am not sure I understand. You mention using something as is. If this is the Harbor Freight one, I am surprised, because it would not melt toner for me at all until I changed the thermostat. After that, it required multiple passes to melt it. So I slowed it down by making the motor on 1/2 second and then 5 seconds off. This way it transfers beautifully in one pass.

    I used a microcontroller to do the motor control with an opto-isolated SSR to switch the motor. But this could easily be done with an NE555 timer in place of the microontroller.

    Bob
     
  14. GScapes

    Thread Starter New Member

    Dec 7, 2013
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    I used the Harbor Freight laminator as-is, I let it warm up for 30 minutes, then ran my copper through multiple times- I want to say 10-15 times or so? I ended up with a pretty good transfer for what I was doing. Etched great. I was working with copper that was about 2 inches across and 8 inches long. I alternated feeding it through left side, middle and right side, also flipped it back and forth on the ends.
     
  15. BobTPH

    Active Member

    Jun 5, 2013
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    That is odd, because I tried the same thing, and got no transfer at all. I wonder if they changed the thermostat between when you bought it and I did. The box said "Max operating temparture 300F", but the thermostat was 125C with is 257F with is, from everything I have read, too low to melt the toner.

    Anyway, you could benefit from a slowdown circuit like I used. It is great to make it work in one pass.

    Bob
     
  16. GScapes

    Thread Starter New Member

    Dec 7, 2013
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    Perhaps- 300F is what mine said too. I agree, working in one pass would be amazing! I'll hopefully be working on that in the coming weeks. Thanks again!
     
  17. GScapes

    Thread Starter New Member

    Dec 7, 2013
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    Well, I haven't been able to get the HF laminator to replicate the results I had the other night. I think it comes down to using really thin glossy paper the first time (from an ad insert) vs the paper I'm using now. Do you mind if I ask if you could direct me to any sort of instructable that will help me modify it like you did? I'll confess, I'm a complete novice when it comes to electronics modification...
     
  18. THE_RB

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 11, 2008
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    Please pull the laminator apart and show us some photos of the insides. It might be easier to chank up the temperature, or slow down the motor.
    :)
     
  19. BobTPH

    Active Member

    Jun 5, 2013
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  20. GScapes

    Thread Starter New Member

    Dec 7, 2013
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    Thanks :) I actually managed to contact an old friend I knew from college who said he'd be happy to mod it for me for beer :) I gave him the info that you gave me, Bob, so he's going to work with that. Thanks for all the help!
     
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