Inkjet or laser printer for UV PCB making

Thread Starter

Markd77

Joined Sep 7, 2009
2,806
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?
 

Wendy

Joined Mar 24, 2008
22,237
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:

k7elp60

Joined Nov 4, 2008
562
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".
 

Attachments

bluebrakes

Joined Oct 17, 2009
251
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.
 

AlexR

Joined Jan 16, 2008
732
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.
 

shortbus

Joined Sep 30, 2009
8,317
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.
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.
 

Thread Starter

Markd77

Joined Sep 7, 2009
2,806
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.
 

GetDeviceInfo

Joined Jun 7, 2009
1,746
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.
 

bluebrakes

Joined Oct 17, 2009
251
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?
 
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.
 

beenthere

Joined Apr 20, 2004
15,819
If you get pitting with the laser transparency, you can darken it with a dry erase marker
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.
 

jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
11,088
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.
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
 

beenthere

Joined Apr 20, 2004
15,819
Sorry for the confusion - I use photoresist film coated PCB stock. The plastic is pretty fragile, even before the UV softens it.
 

beenthere

Joined Apr 20, 2004
15,819
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.
 
Top