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These days to make PCB’s you don’t need tons of expensive exposing equipment and bubble tanks, it can be done quite simply on your kitchen floor or in a garage and on a tight budget. There are many instructables already about how to create PCB's with toner and glossy photo paper or magazine pages etc. But what if you want something reliable, that peels straight off without any soaking?

Press ‘n’ Peel is a brand of toner transfer system distributed by Tekniks. I am not sure if they developed the technology but it seems to be a mylar like film with a blue powdery emulsion coated onto it . This coating is very weakly adhered to the plastic film.

The way it works is you print onto the blue side with a laser printer, then you flip it over and iron it onto the copper. The toner re-melts and sticks to the copper ( same as glossy paper ) but as the blue coating has poor adhesion to the sheet it comes unstuck as you peel it off leaving the residue only where the toner was.

It is not the only brand available though, there is also Pulsar paper and I have read somewhere there is a far eastern company that produces it but I couldn’t find any info on this.

It is a really excellent way of producing PCB’s in an instant, you can whip up a perfect batch PCB’s in 30-40 mins. It is also detailed enough to do SMD soldering and with good alignment double sided is possible. It is not without difficulty though, toner adhesion is still an issue and this is why I have written this guide to get perfect results every time.

Step 1: Materials & Preperation

Materials

You don’t need much at all, here are the materials I use

  • Laser printer
  • Iron
  • Acetone
  • IPA, Meths(no not crystal meth , denatured alcohol to Americans),
    Acetone, lighter fluid or any kind of decreasing solvent for cleaning
  • PCB Etchant ( I use Ferric Chloride )
  • Fine abrasive sand paper, 1200 or 800 grade
  • Paper towel (Toilet paper!)
  • Copper Board
  • Press’n’Peel / Pulsar paper or similar
  • PCB drill / Dremel type hobby drill

Preparation

Designing and sizing the PCB is a whole other subject so I am going to leave it to you. As you can see I printed 2 sheets already, it is fairly straight forward. Here is a check list to help printing the image.

  • Is the image positive? toner = copper
  • Have you flipped the image?
  • is your printer set to US letter?
  • Set toner to thickest possible setting ( usually something like OHP mode )
  • Have you placed paper to print on the matt side? ( the wrong side is glossy )

As for the board this board is dirty! I’ve had it hanging around for ages so its all oxidized and gerrreeasy! If you buy board and its fresh from the seller don’t bother sanding it down it will work fine. But if its like this just rub it down with some fine ‘Wet and Dry’ (say 1000) with water till it gets bright and even coloured, this removes the oxidized surface making it more consistent to use when etching.

Some boards especially ones you have cut will have burrs on the edges, it is best to sand them off as it can make the image not stick around the edges. Just lie some sanding paper flat on the desk and rub the burred edge against it until it becomes flat.

Whether new or old it is a good idea to de-grease the surface of the PCB. I use IPA (no not pale ale) as its a bit less harsh on the hands, but the acetone that we will be using later on can also be used. Just rub it down until the towel you are rubbing it down with comes up clean.

How can I use photo glossary paper as an alternative of press and peel paper
<p>I've ruined two laser printer cartridges using P-n-P Blue. It'd have been cheaper for me to have sent the boards out to be made. Because laser printer cartridges are not exactly cheap. At least not the ones that my HP L4+ laser printer takes.</p>
<p>I didn't ruin my printer, but the transfer did simply not stick. I threw that stuff right into the bin.</p>
<p>Not sticking is down to either poor copper prep (abrasive cleaning, using steel wool, or Scotchbrite, with soap and water is usually necessary) the copper has to be bright, and shiny, or too low heat. You have to watch while you iron to see it take. I forget today just what to look for, but I remember there is a change as the toner sticks to the copper. Even at its best it is still a pretty fiddly process though. What can be achieved is limited too. Some folks have better technique, but the process itself is prone to distortion. What with all of the heat, and pressing involved.</p>
<p>Interesting, my printer is a HP Laserjet 1022 so much more budget and newer. Perhaps it is something to do with the way and temperature it is fused at its the risk of feeding odd stock through your laser printer! I ruined similar HP called 1012 when I fed sticker paper through and it stuck round the fuser roller! </p>
<p>Yeah something stuck to the rollers running P-n-P Blue through my printer. Then everything it printed would have toner all over it, like a bad mimeograph. I tried to clean the rollers, but once it's done, it's done. When I go back to etching again I will try photoresist out. Transfer is pretty low resolution anyways. When it works for a lot of stuff it is great I suppose. But I've had my problems with it too.</p><p>I can honestly say I'd never try it again.</p>
<p>So, I don't know how a LJ4 works, but I have a LJ2, LJ3D, and a LJ5500dn and the LJ2/3 use a fuser bulb. I think it operates at a much higher temperature than newer printers. Thank you for the tip. I also have a LJ5500 and it prints P-N-P fine. It may use a lower temperature, as it uses a heck of a lot less energy. I think the fuser is induction heating, but the toner refills are definitely different compositions, that is why I guess at different temperatures.</p>
<p>You could be onto something with the higher heat. I know I ruined two toner cartridges using Press and Peel Blue on that machine. That's like $300 of toner cartridges shot. Cheaper for me to just send files out and have them made. But that is inconvenient. What with the waiting for the boards to come back, and all.</p><p>On top of all of that I am not mass producing any boards that I make, so hand soldering them with wire point, to point is the simplest thing for me to do.</p>
<p>Excellent to have a Instructable on this. I started using Press'n'Peel three years ago It took me ages to get my technique right. A guide like this would have helped me enormously. Good job.</p>
<p>Where do you live? )) I mean where can I get the &quot;press'n'peel&quot; paper from to try it? Never seen and heard of it. Plain &quot;laser ironing&quot; - that's my way for last ten years. ))</p>
<p>Cool instructable.</p><p>If you have any problems with the copper coming off the board while you are drilling the holes, try this: drill the holes in the board <em>before</em> you etch. That gives the copper a fighting chance to stay stuck to the board.</p>
<p>??? Poor quality material? Sounds pretty strange really. ???</p>
<p>Thats strange, I have never had this problem, I think possibly it is to do with the drill bits. They need to be very sharp and carbide bits cost barely anything at PCB hole size, pre-drilling seems messy to me as the holes will get filled with press and peel waste.</p>
<p>And to prevent undercut where you drill (if you do this) remember to spot each of the drill holes with an indelible marker before you etch.</p>
You omitted etchant from your list of materials.
<p>thanks! changed</p>
Very interesting thank you for sharing.
<p>FYI, I've had really good results with this cheap toner transfer paper from China. I just print and use an iron to transfer to PCB. It comes right off after soaking the board in water for just a minute or two. http://www.aliexpress.com/snapshot/6523129059.html?orderId=66096677000968</p>
<p>nice! I had a look for alternatives but its hard to tell sometimes if its actually the same stuff. So its more like using glossy paper where you soak? any pictures of how the pre-etch PCB looks like?</p>
It has a glossy coating on it, so yes, it's kind of like glossy paper, but I never had luck with that. This stuff works good and you don't have to fight to get it off. My only complaint is that they send it rolled up so you need to put it under some books for a few days to flatten out.<br><br>Here is a before etch / after etch shot. <br>
<p>hello as I do that here in Brazil as would Mr. sending me things I can're buying for me to test here how to do it?</p><p>My contact is marceloricardo.2007@otmail.com</p>
I'd never heard of this press n peel, but I will be getting some for my future projects, I hate the mess left by photo paper. For preventing corrosion I use immerse tin powder.<br><br>https://www.jprelec.co.uk/store.asp/c=694/Immerse-Tin-Powder<br><br>it coats the copper in a thin layer of tin, so it's still solderable, but prevents corrosion and gives a really nice silver effect to finished pcbs.<br>
<p>I tried this once, I think I got a duff batch it didn't stick, that looks nice!</p>
<p>If you are going to use a soldermask afterwards then tin the board AFTER the mask is on.</p>
<p>FYI guys,</p><p>I have a small vinyl cutter (an A4 version of the big one's sign writers use) This will make an adhesive vinyl transfer of any line drawing. Many Schools have them too, so it's worth checking. . . . the model is a Dr Stika vinyl sticker by Roland DG. I would of course be happy to do the odd one for anyone living in Whangarei NZ. 094346339 </p>
<p>Great Instructable. Thanks for the info.</p>
<p>Nice!</p><p>I would suggest a bath with baking soda and water after etching. I use a small pyrex dish and mix a few tablespoons of baking soda and enough water to cover the board. Be sure to mix the soda &amp; water before dropping in the board. I do this after a complete wash &amp; before drilling. You need to let the board sit in the neutralizer for a long enough period to rid any possible residue from the etching cycle. I found that if you do not do a complete wash that any residual etching solution would cause under cut &amp; erosion on the board. Mostly my soak periods are not more than 5 minutes, depends on size of board. After the bath be sure to wash the board again with cold tap water.</p><p>Hope this helps!</p>
<p>Well written, thanks for sharing</p>
Great instructable. Clear and detailed. I am going to try your process to build my first PCB. Thank you for sharing.
<p>Those having problems with laser printing P-n-P Blue may be putting the wrong side up in their laser printer. </p>
<p>I agree. Easy to use, with good results. I make all my PCBs using the same Press'n'Peel.</p><p>I do not use an iron, instead I fix the Press'n'Peel to the blank PCB with masking tape, and pass it through a laminater 10 - 12 times.</p><p>Below some pics of what I was able to fit into a 100x80mm PCB using Press'n'Peel.</p>
<p>I agree. Easy to use, with good results. I make all my PCBs using the same Press'n'Peel.</p><p>I do not use an iron, instead I fix the Press'n'Peel to the blank PCB with masking tape, and pass it through a laminater 10 - 12 times.</p>
<p>Nice Instructable.</p><p>Thanks.</p>

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