Toner Transfer PCB creation - Attempt 1

by Ivan Hamilton 8/21/2008 5:30:00 PM

A little while ago I printed a PCB design on my laser printer to some ink-jet paper I had, and ironed that onto some blank PCB. After that, let it soak in water, and lightly brushed the paper away.

This is my first attempt at home brew PCB creation using the toner transfer method, and the results (while not perfect) are not bad for a first attempt.

There's two parts to this process where I need some more practice: transfer & etching.

Transfer

I actually did the transfer twice. The first time, a number of the tracks didn't fuse and lifted. I used more pressure and a longer duration the second time, and the result was much better.

One edge was a little patchy, and I'd say my lack of even ironing contributed to this. I though the layout was more centered (see the large gap at the top), and didn't put effort right up to those edges.


Board after transfer

I touched up a few of the patchy areas with a pen (which was a little large nibbed).

Etching

Not wanting to make up a large batch of etchant, I grabbed a plastic container just large enough for the board and put in ammonium persulfate crystals. The instructions on my etchant container said 75°C, so I boiled the jug and took it downstairs.

The etching started well, but pretty much came to a stop with a few blobs of copper still remaining. This is going to be due to one of two things: not strong enough etchant or not enough heat.


The etching process (edges gone, 3, 18 & 24 min later)

So, I need to work out a more accurate way to measure out the ammonium persulfate crystals (some small scales), and a way to keep the etchant heated (maybe a hot plate or oven).

Final Results

After giving the board a scrub to remove the toner this is the final result.

 
Final result

Some of the tracks appear to have been etched from under the toner (they looked good until the toner was removed). This is probably because I left it in the etchant for nearly 30 minutes. It should have only taken about 10 minutes. There were a few areas where the toner transfer wasn't the best, and a more even ironing should help this.

This board is beyond repair, as the tracks on the far left are all broken and they're too fine to repair. This is a learning process, so I'll do another one and see how it goes.

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