Picture of DIY PCB Toner Deposition Method
Hey everybody, this is my first posted Instructable.

The idea behind this instructable is to outline a different way of transferring toner to the board aside from the methods we have available to us currently. Instead of transferring the toner using an iron transfer method, you use an electrostatic deposition mechanism (powder coating gun) to deposit the toner on the copper clad board, and then selectively melt the toner using a laser cutter (that has an engraving option as well).

You’ll need:

1 powder coating gun
1 air compressor
1 air regulator
1 compressed air moisture trap
1 laser cutter w/engraving capability (Luckily, I have access to the one at the Arch Reactor, a hackerspace in St. Louis, MO)
1 paint booth
1 copper clad board
1 bottle of refill toner (I used Brother brand, but I suppose any type will do, the laser isn’t too
Hydrochloric Acid (Muriatic Acid)
Hydrogen Peroxide
Plastic watertight container
Nitrile Gloves
A respirator or dust mask (>N95 perferred)

And a design/circuit you wish to put onto the copper clad.

Once you have all these things, we can get started.

DISCLAIMER: If you follow this instructable, please take your safety into consideration. Note that I have set up environmental engineering controls that are adequate for my own use (paint booth) and that you are responsible for your own safety in your shop/workplace. If you do not have an environmental set up like mine, please consider getting a respirator! It is a good thing to have in your tool kit for all kinds of safety reasons!

andrew_h2 years ago
What sort of resolution can you get out of this? It's a bit hard to tell but it seems the tracks have fairly rough edges. It's a great concept but surely for the cost and availability of the components for the average person at home to be able to replicate your work, the toner transfer method using a modified laminator would be much more efficient. I done this for ages before i got a CNC machine. I have not touched my laminator or etchant since!
studleylee2 years ago
Outstanding idea!!!
wakojako2 years ago
Bonus points for making your PCB traces look like a (cartoon) crocodile sat down.
shadeofsound (author)  wakojako2 years ago
Now that you mention it I can't stop seeing it!

I'll be sure to let the person I did the circuit for know about that feature lol.
What's the PCB for anyway?
rmillion2 years ago
strange thing i tried almost same thing and failed. Either toner from konicaminolta bizhub was no good (simitri), or couldn`t determine what power/speed settings to use, or layer of toner. Once i engraved it i got blobs of toner not even lines, just like toner didn`t want to stick to copper clad, and bunched in to blobs. If i reduce power it wont melt. i think this was because toner.
shadeofsound (author)  rmillion2 years ago
You may try to adjust feed rates of your laser as well; the toner I used was Brother branded and I had picked it up on a whim (just to see if i could do this).

Other things I would make sure to look into would be storage and moisture content of your powders before spraying.
As to carlos66ba the toner is bad for your lungs you got gloves to protect your hands you should add a face mask and goggles its not god for eyes either.
if you are using a laser cutter/engraver use non gloss black spray paint and laser what you want to remove. Its cheaper, easier, safer
carlos66ba2 years ago
Nice idea, but a few notes:
1) Spreading toner all over the place isn't likely very good for your lungs.
2) Don't look at the laser beam with your remaining eye :)
3) You should have larger copper-full areas (possibly a ground plate?) so that you spend less acid etching the material.
shadeofsound (author)  carlos66ba2 years ago
Hey thanks for reading!

1.) All spray painting I've done lately is inside that nice (roughly speaking) wooden booth you see up there (in step 1). It's got a filter and a blower attached to suck dirty air into and works quite well for powder based coatings, including toner. No breathing plastic for me thanks!

2.) Picture was when the laser was off ;), the light is from a fluorescent tube mounted on the carriage by the creator.

3.) This was a lesson learned the hard way, and I'll make sure to add this to the designs I do for friends in the future. Thanks for the tip!

gfetters2 years ago
Awesome Instructable! What a great idea! I can't wait to try this. :)