Cheap and Easy Toner Transfer for PCB Making

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Introduction: Cheap and Easy Toner Transfer for PCB Making

There are lots of people mentioned about using Inkjet Glossy Paper to do Toner Transfer. It can be done. But it is not easy to remove it after ironing. You have soak the PCB in hot water for more than ten minutes. It is quite time consuming. If you cannot remove the coating completely. It cannot be etched.

I have tried to use Konica Minolta Photo Quailty Matte Paper. Then design your own circuit and print it on the Matte Paper. Remember, before printing it. You need to mirror board. Otherwise, the circuit will be inversed.

Step 1: Start to Iron It.

Face the Toner Side of Matte Paper towards to the Copper Side. Turn On your Iron. Unlike the Glossy Paper, you have to turn to maximum temperature. You don't need it this time. I turn the iron to medium temperature (becoz the paper is not very thick.. Heat is easy to Transfer to Copper and Toner). Firstly, Iron the side of PCB. After 30 seconds, you will find the Matte Paper will stick to Copper firmly. It means it is successful. Then Iron the whole PCB. Depends on the Size of PCB, I use around 2minutes for this Copper Board (Around 3cm x 4cm).

If some area cannot stick, it means your copper board is not clean enough. Remove the Paper and Use Acetone and Sand Paper to Clean it.


Step 2: Soak It With Cold Water

Just Soak It in the Cold Water. Since Matte Paper are much thinner than Glossy Paper. Paper will become soft very quickly. Use your finger to remove the paper gently. Don't Remove it Too Hard. Otherwise, some toner will be removed too.

Please check the every trace. Find out any broke trace. If find, use Acetone to clean it and do it again.


Step 3: Etch It !

Use any kind of etchant to etch your copper board. I use Ferric Chloride. Put Ferric Chloride into Water and wait until it dissolve. Put the Copper Board into it and Wait Until All Uncover Copper Disappear.


Step 4: Clean and Then Finish!

Finally, we need to remove the Toner. Use the Acetone (Nail Polish Remover) to clean it.

This PCB in the Photo are LQFP -80 14mmx14mm. The Trace is around 14mil. It is quite clean and no broken trace is found.

Originally, this method are tried by Karo-sama. He has made a video for demostration.

For more details , you can find it in my wiki.

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    74 Comments

    Thank you, thank you for the excellent instructions! The photos make it easy to imagine and understand. I found that getting the coper 'clean' before ironing was more crutial than many might think. Just sanding didn't quite do it. I do that, but then put the board in the etch for about 10 seconds before ironing helped 100%. (Give the board a good soap and rinseing before ironing) Now, 100% of the toner is staying on the board, and no more broken fine traces.

    I have always used OOO steel wool to clean the toner off the board. Doesn't damage anything. also helps the solder stick better also.

    1 reply

    I try to avoid anything abrasive as you will damage the surface of the copper and oxidation is likely to occur a lot quicker. Get a nice cheap bottle of nail polish remover and an old (lint free) rag or some makeup cotton wool pads will work too but may leave little bits on the board. Just make sure you do it in a well ventilated area or outside because it's really strong smelling. I also found that if you place it on a flat surface, then pour enough nail polish remover onto it to cover it (let the surface tension do the work and hold it on, so don't use too much) leave for a few minutes and then use an old kitchen scratchy sponge pad. These are made of a plastic material and they don't damage the copper. If you want to go all out you can then tin plate your board when you are 100% certain it is clean and free from any residue or toner.

    Hi, do you mind if I ask you where I can purchase a decent PCB board for the above application? You have mentioned a FR4 Silver Coating PCB. Is this a good choice? If so, where do you think I can look for it? Any suggestion will be appreciate it. Massimo.

    4 replies

    I use Rapid Electronics, they ship internationally and have pretty good prices. You can try the FR2 (SRBP - Synthetic Resin Bonded Paper) sold as economy board if you want a cheaper solution but I prefer the more expensive FR4.

    http://www.rapidonline.com/Tools-Equipment/Plain-Copper-Clad-Fibreglass-Circuit-Board-29478

    radio shack or radioshack.com sells copperclad one or two sided boards for like 4-5 bucks

    I have brought it at Hong Kong from some sort of electronic parts shop. I donno any internet shop have selling it.

    Hey man I've tryed this like 4 times now and everytime, its doesnt tranfers nicely, do you have to sand it first?

    Photo0069.jpg
    1 reply

    Hey, I tried this method for the first time the other day. I saw a video on YouTube where someone printed straight to a transpanancy and then ironed that and it seemed to come straight off, but when I tried this method it didn't seem to work properly, I ended up using an indelible pen to fill in a lot of the areas which was very time consuming! The second time I tried this I used the slightly shiny backing paper that comes with the 3M transparencies I use and this worked really well. It did require soaking in water though which the transparency didn't I was using 20 mil traces going in-between pads on a stand 0.1" DIL socket. I did get a few that were joined due to the 'splurge' of the toner. I used a small craft knife to cut these and it etched really well. I was using the iron on full temperature with no steam and I place a piece of baking paper/parchment between the board and the iron. I am going to experiment with some tracing paper soon and also maybe try printing onto baking paper if I can stop it from curling up so much... which gives me an idea... the iron seems to do a good job with this. I may try making a small batch of sheet of it to print onto. Just a quick note, which has been mentioned previously, you need to have really dense transfers from your laser printer. See if there are any print density setting and also ensure toner saving is turned OFF. I have a nice Samsung CLP-320 and can find any density settings and can't print decent artworks on it, but the old HP Colour Laser Jet 5M gives fantastic dense artworks.

    A MORE effective method is using a G clamp. clamp your pcb to a pentium3 heat sink and put it on the gas stove for about 30s, even distribution of heat and compressive strength

    1 reply

    what do you maen by the "toner side" of the paper? and du you have to print this with a inkjet or lazer? 

    4 replies

    A laser printer is always required.  This is because laser ink contains about 50% plastic in it, so by applying the heat it allows the plastic to melt onto the copper board.  Removing the heat allows the plastic to harden again.  Normal ink jet ink doesn't contain plastic, so no matter how much heat you apply, you will always be able to wipe away the ink!

    You have to use a laser print because:
    * Lazer transfers by heat.
    * Ink dissolves in water, so when you attempt to etch it, the ink will dissolve it in water.

    The toner side of the paper is the side of the paper that has the pattern printed on. Lots of videos on youtube that shows this procedure. GL

    you use lazer as the ink particles that sre present are more likely to produce a better finished product.

    Can anyone suggest a printer that is readily available? Have tried this so many times and have been unsuccessful. The problem seems to be that not enough toner/ink is deposited on the paper, image doesn't transfer and if it does, paper doesn't stick to metal and washes off.