Toner transfer method for making PC boards is very practical and economical. The use of heat for the transferring is not. Large boards expand with heat (more than the laser print) and heat is applied to the top of the toner and not to the bottom contacting the copper layer. Too much heat melts and deforms the toner, too little heat and it won't adhere uniformly. In this Instructable I will describe a very simple technique I've been using for over 15 years. It is very fail-proof and involves the use of only 2 common chemicals : Ethyl Alcohol and Acetone. You can replace the Acetone with Toluene or Xylene, but you will have to experiment with the proportions.

Step 1: Toner Is Inert to Alcohol

Alcohol is volatile but neutral to toner or paper. Its purpose is to dilute the Acetone.

Step 2: Acetone Reacts With Toner

Acetone, (pure, not nail-polish remover) dissolves the toner immediately.

Step 3: The Formula

Experimentally I found the best alcohol-acetone proportion is 8:3 (8 volumes alcohol + 3 volumes Acetone) Acetone will "soften" the toner just enough to make it "sticky" but not dissolve or blur.

Step 4: Storage

You can store the preparation for a very long time but the container must be absolutely airtight. Acetone is much more volatile than Alcohol so exposing to air will degrade acetone concentration. The container should also survive the action of acetone. If plastic, it should be HDPE(high density polyethilene, often used in kitchenware)

Step 5: Cleaning

This step is the same you would do for any other toner tranfer method.

Step 6: Procedure

Pour the solution on the board (not on the print) and quickly spread to cover all its surface (quick!, acetone is volatilizing). Place the print on the board and center it in place without pushing down. Now press gently down, fully contacting the solution. Wait 5-10 seconds before finally pressing down to adhere to board (only perpendicular pressure). During those seconds, acetone is reacting with the toner rendering it "sticky". Use some kitchen paper to spread pressure evenly and absorb excess liquid. Let dry, and dip in water.

Step 7: Release the Paper

After a few minutes (don't be anxious) peel the paper off starting from a corner. There should not be any toner on the paper. Rinse the board in water to remove any remaining paper particles.

Step 8: Etching

Step 9: Large Boards

For larger boards, I place board and print between two blocks of wood and press together with a C-Clamp. Place a layer or two of kitchen paper between print and wood to distribute pressure and allow for evaporation.

Step 10: For More Details, Watch the Video. Thank You

<p>Very nice, clean and easy. After some tries I found that the 1:1 ratio worked for me too. I used an HP inkjet printer with not OEM toner and paper from a Goodyear tyres catalog. I resigned some spots with a permanent marker.</p><p>permanent marker</p>
<p>I used two woods and a wood clamp for pressure for 10 minutes but I don't that needed that much.</p>
<p>I tried this several times on a fairly complex board. I used acetone and denatured alcohol from Home Depot. I used the exact mix of the two, but I had little success getting the right amount onto the board. I might have hurried too much?! Anyway less than half of the toner stuck as many times as I tried and putting weight on it caused straight lines to go wiggly. </p><p>I was almost able to get it to work with 100% acetone by putting the paper on first and pouring the acetone over the paper. The pressing boards caused it to squish out.</p>
<p>Can I use Isopropyl alcohol instead of Ethyl Alcohol and what will be the ration of mixture?</p>
<p>I've tried it with Isopropyl alcohol with the same ration and it worked. Thanks for the Instructable.</p>
<p>Thanks for posting it worked!! what % iso did you use?</p>
<p>The ratio is same 3:8 (Acetone:ISO)</p>
<p>what paper do I use and does it work with a laser printer?</p>
<div><p> Good<br> evening, I'm trying to use your method, but I can not get the drawing <br>out, is there any other way to get the paper out as shown in the video? Thank you.</p></div>
<p>I used 70% ethyl alcohol and I had do use a different ratio, as the 8:3 didn't do anything. After some experimenting, I found that Acetone:70% Alcohol - 5:2 ratio works quite well. Thanks for showing!</p>
<p>Thanks for sharing this! I will give it a try this weekend.</p>
<p>This is simply GREAT! Works so much better than ironing...</p><p>Thank you for sharing this method!</p><p>Pablo (Rosario - Argentina)</p>
<p>Gracias! Aguante Rosario, cuna del rock nacional !!</p>
<p>I would like to thank you for this magic like method! It works without <br>hard work for heat transfer method.</p><p>I want to suggest an improvement for this method(extra step).</p><p>This step is to put the board in the oven at 180c for to minutes after <br>removing the paper to stabilize the toner on the board to improve <br>etching process.</p><p>Is this step useful??</p>
<p>Yes that step is helpful. I've tried it and it significantly strengthens the grip of the toner to the board. I determined this by scratching with a finger nail before and after the oven stage. I presume this will reduce undercut in etching but have not confirmed that by experiment yet</p>
<p>Would a Toaster machine work for that?</p>
<p>Thank you very much!</p><p>I just tried it with tracing paper. </p><p>I easy and quick got full transfer with no sticking paper on PCB!</p><p>Yeah... it is not right on the spot. There are issues with printing on tracing paper. Toner is not good cower all black areas, and lines are thinner then printed on glossy paper.</p><p>But I think it is worth trying further. Maybe out there exists better tracing paper or my printer is not just good enough.</p>
<p>Can I use alcoholic hand rub instead of Ethyl alcohol which contains 70% Isopropyl Alcohol and the rest water and other chemicals? </p>
<p>Gracias loco, es genial esto! Vengo de intentar de mil formas distintas transfer termico, y tengo bastantes luchas con laca fotosensible... esto es muy bueno!<br><br>Successful on first try!<br>- Design with 10mil tracks and 10mil clearences<br>-&quot;Ilustraci&oacute;n 170g&quot; paper, glossy<br>- 8 parts Ethylic (96% grade), 3 parts Acetone (technical grade, almost pure) measured with syringe.<br>Cleaned copper with abrasive cloth (coarse), rubbed with alcohol and paper towel.<br>Poured generous amount of solvent mix without it dropping off the pcb.<br>Placed print on top. Waited for it to soak. Pressed with a piece (3mm thick) of Balsa (Kiri should work too) wood, which is quite porous and soft. (bought in craft model shops, used for model airplanes and buildings).<br>The wood quickly absorbed the solvent. Placed a mediun weight (around 700g) and left a couple minutes alone.<br>Removed the weight and balsa and waited for the paper to dry. Paper tried to rise and damaged a trace in the border...perhaps i could weigh it down with some sort of mesh while it dries, next time.<br>Soaked it with gentle warm water; the back &quot;wax&quot; of the glossy paper inhibited wetting of the center of the paper, so I scratched it a little with a wire sponge. Peeled off perfect and the toner resisted the finger rubbing quite well. Tried soaking it also in warm strong bleach solution, don&acute;t know if it helped much.<br><br>Attacked with ferric perchlorate, manual stirring, no heat.<br>Result is amazingly good. No shorts and no open tracks (only one, but was a design error). Edges are quite straight and healthy. Some places seem squished, as if something pressed too much there.<br>There are some spots in the large solid areas, probably because of the print (toner usually fails to fill large solid areas, or so I've been told). Could try hatched fill instead of solid, if I need background planes. <br><br>Tranks, again!<br>Gustavo (Rosario)<br><br><br>Su</p>
<p>Muchas gracias y Feliz A&ntilde;o ! Aguante Rosario !!</p>
Could you give me a list of printers that work? I need to get a new one and was hoping to find one where the replacement cartridge price wasn't too high. I have a brother right now which I hear isn't the best, plus it doesn't print very darkly or smooth lines. You mentioned a canon printer, do you think all canon laser printers work, as long as the print quality is there? Also I've heard HP printers working well for other application methods, so you know if that holds true for this? Thanks!!! I'm very excited to try this!
<p>the original hp laser printers where built by canon </p>
<p>Sort of. Earliest laser printers used either a Cadmium Sulfide drum (Canon patent) or Selenium drum (Xerox patent). HP licensed the Canon technology, but built most of their mechanics and all of their electronics.</p>
Can I also take isopropanol? I have no ethanol.
<p>any &quot;drinking alcohol&quot; is ethanol!</p>
<p>Any drinking alcohol contains water which would cause the solvent mixture will not work as described.</p>
<p>I wouldn't recommend Toluene or Xylene because of toxicity risks.</p><p>I'll be using isopropanol because I have a source of it (at work).</p><p>I am going to experiment using the cold transfer method but I am going to use gummed paper which will absolutely guarantee that the paper soaks off gently leaving the toner image on the copper.</p>
<p>Did anybody try using transparency laser printer papers? This may avoid paper trails sticking to the board. It may also be useful because we can see if the solution is spread evenly. Anyone?</p>
<p>Thank you!!! Thank you!!! Nice tip! It will simplify my very life at projects!</p>
<p>Bravo sir Bravo. I have made tons of printed circuit boards in my life time using most every technique known, but I have never seen this. I will try it and soon too. Thanks for the post. Thumbs Up!</p>
It works!<br>I used 75% isopropyl alcohol, the 8:3 ratio for alcohol and acetone works well, while I am using plain A4 paper instead of photo paper, which also not a problem.<br>
<p>does anyone have a model number for the paper that they used to get good results with this technique?</p>
<p>It works perfect!</p><p>printer: Samsung M2835DW</p><p>paper: foto glossy 180g.</p><p>proportion: i'm not sure, i didn't measure it. But it was about 4:1</p><p>and I left it about 5 minutes under water.</p><p>Muchas gracias por compartir este m&eacute;todo.</p>
<p>Hermann.</p><p>I first tried the suggested proportions 8:3 and didn't work. Quality of acetone and alcohol perhaps were not the approppriate concentration, then I made a proportion 1:1 and worked perfectly. I would suggest that everybody start with 1:1 and so on until you get the exact formula that will be satisfactory. Good luck.....</p>
<p>Methylated Spirits in Australya is 95% Ethanol &amp; 5% Methanol, Methanol is added to deter consumption :)</p>
<p>This is a brilliant solution for PCB-development! Why did you wait 15 years to tell us?</p>
<p>Forgot to put the first one in water. But the second was amazing.</p>
<p>Would it be possible after the entire process is finished to repeat the transfer process for a silkscreen (printed in a different color), without the etching part ofcourse? Maybe just the heating in the oven part to make sure the silkscreen sticks?</p>
<p>I have been struggling. I experimented a lot over the weekend. I've found the 8:3 mixture to be best but my gloss paper tends to curve a little as the solvent dries causing the transfer near the edges to fail. The tracks away from the edges transfer fine. I'm going to try again tonight using plain paper ie.non-gloss, hoping that I can just rub off the paper under a cold-running tap. I've found that a brief oven stage improves the toner adhesion to the board so this should help me use non-gloss paper.</p>
<p>standard non-gloss paper didn't work. The toner deposited after rubbing away the paper is patchy upon close inspection which would cause etchant to attack the tracks. I'm going to search for a paper that releases the toner more easily or at least doesn't peal causing the edges to fail</p>
<p>My laser printer is a Samsung ML-2010PR. I used equal amount of acetone and alcohol with success. Do not use photographic paper because is very hard to be dissolved. As simpletronic says, paper must be the coated glossy type which is not porous and releases the toner easily. Also, hot water will dissolve the paper quicker.</p>
<p>I don't understand this. Coated glossy paper seems to be widely marketed as photographic paper, and vice versa. What's the ditinction between coated glossy paper and photographic paper with regards to the paper's construction?</p>
<p>may i know what type of paper did you use for laser print?? i use general A4 paper but the result still have few unconnected track...</p>
<p><strong><em>Hi!</em></strong> </p><p>I use plain ordinary laser printer paper but it must be the <strong>coated glossy</strong> type which is <strong>not porous</strong> and releases the toner easily. You may also experiment increasing the <em>acetone</em> ratio slightly since not all toners are alike. <strong>---|&gt;|---</strong></p>
<p>Gracias simpletronic. Te pasaste con el m&eacute;todo, lo voy a probar apenas pueda. </p><p>Te dejo un tip que a m&iacute; me sirvi&oacute; para poder trabajar con cualquier papel, pero con el m&eacute;todo tradicional y que quiz&aacute; pueda llegar a servir aqu&iacute;: </p><p>A la hoja de papel com&uacute;n, la &quot;pinto&quot; con adhesivo vin&iacute;lico estilo voligoma o similar. La dejo secar bien e imprimo. Una vez hecha la transferencia, sumerjo la plaqueta en agua hasta que la voligoma se ablanda lo suficiente y voil&aacute;, se despega sin ning&uacute;n problema.</p><p>Saludos y muchas gracias por compartir tus conocimientos.</p>
<p><em>Gracias amigo!</em> Tu tip es muy convincente: aplic&aacute;s una <em>barrera soluble</em> entre el papel y el toner. En mi caso, yo no tengo impresora laser, y hago la impresi&oacute;n en algun print-shop, los que se niegan a utilizar cualquier papel de procedencia externa. <em>Saludos !</em> <strong> ---|&gt;|---</strong></p>
<p>Very interesting post, especially to me as a retired &quot;old school&quot; electronic engineer. I went through all the home etching stuff in my youth - when printed circuits started and laser printers were unthought of - and developed several methods using the processes then available.</p><p>(I used gramophone decks to spin boards I had coated with photo resist and had a mercury street light in a box to expose the boards. I used a dye line printer to get the transparencies and etched with perchloric acid made from HCl and peroxide. No pcs then, so the originals were black tape on cartridge paper.)</p><p>It occurs to me that this process might be adapted to the transfer of laser printed photos onto canvas. The hobby method mostly used at present is to coat the canvas with a PVA based patent gunk and use this to stick the laser print onto the canvas. When dry, the paper of the laser print is soaked and abraded off. A bit iffy method but some people get good results Your technique should work if the toner prefers to stick to the canvas rather than re-fix itself to the paper.</p><p>Regards</p><p>Kev</p><p>It </p>
<p>Thanks, this worked, made board for ESP8266/07 module, needs bit of dremel but etching is done (used 100% acetone, don't have access to ethanol....at least one pharmacy store didn't sell it) Etching was done with vinegar+hydrogen peroxide+salt combo, printer is canon LPB6030.</p>
<p>Amazing! I tried it and works at first try! Funcion&oacute; de una amigo! Sos de Argentina, no? Me pareci&oacute; por la botella de alcohol y la droguer&iacute;a :)</p>

About This Instructable




Bio: Music: my profession for over 40 years... Electronics: my beloved hobby always.
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