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

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>
Can I also take isopropanol? I have no ethanol.
<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>
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>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>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>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>
<p>Sii !! sos un aut&eacute;ntico Sherlock Holmes. Gracias amigo!!</p>
<p>Hola!, Muy buen tutorial, estoy podrido de hacer lio y quemarle la plancha a mi mujer!</p><p>Dos preguntas, tenes idea si es lo mismo usar quita esmalte?, (no le uso el de ella ;) y que tipo de papel usas? de revista, o comun de impresora? gracias!!!</p>
<p>Yo lo prob&eacute; con papel de revista y funciona perfecto, ojo que transfiere absolutamente TODO, as&iacute; que si el papel ilustraci&oacute;n sin ninguna impresi&oacute;n te va dar mejores resultados. Us&eacute; acetona de dudosa pureza as&iacute; que la mezcl&eacute; 50/50 con excelentes resultados. <br>Como comentario adicional, el m&eacute;todo tambi&eacute;n sirve para aplicar la m&aacute;scara de componentes. </p>
que material usas para la mascara de componentes? o aplicas el toner en el lado contrario de la plaqueta?
<p>Otra impresi&oacute;n LASER para el lado de los compontes y se transfiere con el mismo m&eacute;todo. </p>
<p>Muy buen aporte !!</p>
<p>Hola <strong>DanielD112</strong> ! El quita-esmalte contiene varios componentes y poca acetona (hasta tiene aceite) por lo que no sirve. Si sos de Argentina, la venta de acetona est&aacute; restringida pero la consegu&iacute;s en<em> Elcano 3983 (Van Rossum) </em>presentando DNI. (capital) .El papel que utilizo es el de impresora denominado ILUSTRACI&Oacute;N (capa brillante ) pero tal vez funcione el otro . Saludos !!</p>
<p>Maravilloso!, Muchas gracias por la informaci&oacute;n gente!!!!</p>
<p>Hello. Is it possible to make PCB with this method using coated glossy paper but inkjet printer?</p>
<p><em>HI!</em> <strong>NO</strong>, inkjet printers are not suitable for this or any other toner transfer method. Laser printer toner is made of plastic and is<strong> impervious</strong> to etchants and water.</p><p><strong>---|&gt;|---</strong></p>
<p>Oh, thank you for reply.</p>
<p>Awesome!!! This was my first try, i used nail polish remover (without mixing it with alcohol) it actually work very good :-}. Thanks for sharing your methods, no more temperature measuring for me Hahaha.</p>
<p>Great!! You will get better results with acetone/alcohol. Nail polish remover is a mixed bag of chemicals and sometimes even contains oil. </p>
<p>Thank you very much! I will try it!</p>
<p>can i use ethyl acetate (nail polish) in the mixture of acetone and alcohol instead of pure acetone ?</p>
<p>Nail polish remover is a mixture of chemicals and some even contain some oil. You will have to experiment !!</p>
Thank you for the reply :) .
<p>So, I tried this with regular printer-paper, laser-printed, and your exact measurements on the alcohol/acetone ratio, (I used denatured alcohol, and acetone from the local hardware-store) and I must say: Even with plain-old printer-paper, I was able to get toner-transfer acceptable enough to successfully etch nickle-silver!! </p>
<p>Glossy coated paper releases the toner much better than plain paper which is porous. Thanks for your comment !!</p>
I have used 60% ethanol and I don't know about concentration of acetone for me formula was 5parts acetone and 4 parts alcohol.<br>This was first try, quality will improve further.. Thanks for this instructable.
<p>Hi there,</p><p>Did anybody tried using a brother HL-1210w for this?</p><p>Pure acetone does dissolve the toner but i can't get it to work</p>
You might remind those who are having trouble duplicating your success that &quot;toner&quot; means laser printer! If they use an ink jet printer, they will fail.
<p>Definitely right !</p>
it worked really goood! but i didn't lei it the proper time so i lost 3 points.... but it worked! ?
<p>Excellent work! Not all toners &amp; papers are alike, so it may be necessary to experiment a bit <em>(concentrations &amp; timings)</em> but once you get it, results will be consistent.<strong> Advice</strong>: cover all unused areas of board with toner: you will save a lot of etchant &amp; etching time. Thanks &amp; greetings !!</p>
<p>Hola compatriota simpletronic, muy bueno tu aporte, una consulta &iquest;qu&eacute; experiencia has tenido con este m&eacute;todo en plaquetas m&aacute;s complejas?, por ejemplo una que tenga para soldarse en ella un conector DB25 a 90&ordm;. Gracias desde ya!!, lo probar&eacute; en esquemas m&aacute;s sencillos por ahora.</p>

About This Instructable




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