Laser Printed PCB's, Perfect and Easy.




Posted in TechnologyElectronics

Introduction: Laser Printed PCB's, Perfect and Easy.

There is probably nothing new here, but I wanted to share the way I print not so simple PCB's always perfect without a single failure.

Step 1: Circuit Design.

I always model the circuit in a breadboard to make sure everything works as expected. I will use the same components for the final circuit.

Step 2: Modelling.

In order to design the PCB, I first model the circuit in Proteus, and once everything is properly connected, launch ARES for track design, making sure the tracks are as wide as possible. Manual tweaking of the tracks is useful for this purpose and sometimes rerouting is also needed. Don't stick with the automatic design.

Step 3: Printing the Circuit Layout.

It is critical to laser print the circuit on a thin glossy magazine paper (the normal paper for most newsstand magazines). Normally this kind of paper is too thin for the laser printer to handle, so I tape it to a regular sheet of paper, that way it works fine. Be careful NOT to print the track design mirrored and just print the copper side artwork.

Step 4: PCB Preparation.

Cut the board to the desired size, as well as the printed layout. Try not to touch the printed surface with the fingers, handle the paper by the edges. Clean the copper side of the board throughly using ultra fine sand paper or metal wool and rub with pure acetone. Now you can put together the printed paper and the board.

Step 5: Layout Transfer.

Place a cold regular clothing iron in top of the paper side. The iron temperature SHOULD be set at around 120 Celsius not too much colder or hotter (in my iron it is the SILK setting, or between the NYLON and POLYESTER settings). The idea is only to make the toner in the print soft and sticky, but not to melt it down. With the iron in place turn it on and, without moving, just apply pressure till it reaches the temperature setting. I then start moving the iron in circles applying gentle pressure for three to five minutes. At the end you will notice the circuit design through the paper. Turn off the iron and let the PCB cool down for a while.

Step 6: Finishing the Transfer.

Once cool, place the PCB in a tray with water. After just a few minutes you will notice that the paper turns loose and the toner has transfered completely to the copper. There is no need to rub the paper to remove it. The PCB is then ready for the chemical treatment.

Step 7: PCB Finishing.

The PCB con be treated chemically for copper removal by your preferred method. I use ferric chloride but a mixture of muriatic acid and oxy-water also works. Once the etching process finishes (between 20 and 30 minutes), remove the toner with acetone. I use a 0.8 mm drill bit for all the holes and then a 1 mm bit for the larger electronic components. This way the finished circuit works perfect without the need to rework the tracks in any way.

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Have you looked into using one of the cheap Pantum P2500 series black and white laser printers for direct printing the board?

can i print the layout on the normal printing paper?

Peroxide from pharmacy and baker's citric acid powder works like a charm for me. 100 ml 3% H2O2 + 30g citric acid + 5g NaCl (salt), mix thoroughly, don't drink. And surely make use of it while it's fresh and warm.

8 replies

How fast is it with 3% Peroxide? I have seen it on you tube only with concentration like CharlyeZ and 36% HCl?

The maximum in Germany is 10% H2O2, above is restricted like HNO3(Terrorism etc)

Hi! Me (Finland), an old-timer making them PCB’s. I have made ”hundreds (100’s) of them, thus today still using the ”old golden system” 1+2+3 methode
of 1= HCL (36%), 2= Hydroperoxid (25%), 3=Water (100%).

The numbers in ( ) are the concentration of the stuff.

For the developeing of the photoresistive I use NaHO, (Natrium Hydroxide).

Make a trip to Finland, (it is within the EU), and make your purchase of them needed chemical's here, them "Custom's" will just wonder "What the f***" is this" and you just reply: " It's for scientyfic purposes"... "Hmm... OKAY"

Yep, with fresh peroxide in warm water it takes less than 20 mins for small pcb's. No dangerous HCl needed. The chemistry behind is
Cu+ H3Cit +H2O2→ H[CuCit] +2H2O

Copper is quite toxic too.

Me , in Finland. In a pharrmacy (apotek) I can buy HCL 36%, (they maybee.... ask you what it's for...) and the ????-Super- Hydroxid with a concetration of about 25%. There's your formula for etching 1+2+3 The 3 parts is H20=Water from your tap.

Hi! Me an old-timer making them PCB’s. I have made ”hundreds (100’s) of them, thus today still using the ”old golden system” 1+2+3 methode
of 1= HCL (36%), 2= Hydroperoxid (25%), 3=Water (100%). The numbers in ( ) are the concentration of the stuff.

For the developeing of the photoresistive I use NaHO, (Natrium Hydroxide).


using the similar mix, but 60%HCl+30%H2O2+10%H2O.

Works faster than ferric chloride.


HCl - 36%

H2O2 - 26% - technical

H2O 100% - (do not use heavy water from nuclear power plant ..... :-)) )

Hi. Just allmost the same here. I use a ”thumb-formula” 1+2+3
but the other way around of your’s: 1 part of HCL, (acid 35%, 10ml),
2 part of H2O2 (60%) , (Hyd.. superOxid, 20ml), and 3 parts of H2O 30ml of water, (about 100%) from the tap or from the sky. Works like a charm, CARE: You need to follow the process because it goes FAST & getting warmer during that. USE GLOVES ALL THE WAY
Take a breath of a HCL (35%), and survive. At least, (if you survive, you’ll remember that smell for the rest of your life), you’ll understand the necceserity of using gloves.
I missed once with a spill of few drops on my stainless sink. The marks of them spill’s will stay there ”forewer”. I’ve etched PCB’s with both methodes ”FeCl” and ”HCL” , to me: I prefer the HCL-methode => fast & clear, (during the process you can whenewer pick up your PCB and rince it under running water and study the result, (as well with the Fe), and if not good => back into the bath). Check me what I’ve complissed at:

I am actually way past even double sided PCBs anyway. Did that back in
the 70s, quite successfully. Electronics and computers are of little
interest beyond tools to get other things done. A lot of what I would
have done, can be done with an Arduino these days. My next substantial
project requires multiple, high efficiency multiphase, isolated Buck
converters. That will need 4 layers.

1 reply

Hi! Me allso an old-timer making them PCB’s. I have made ”hundreds (100’s)" of them, thus today still using the ”old golden system” 1+2+3 methode
of 1= HCL (36%), 2= Hydroperoxid (25%), 3=Water (100%). The numbers in ( ) are the concentration of the stuff.

For the developeing of the photoresistive I use NaHO, (Natrium Hydroxide).
You still take the price, thus making them 4-layers… guess you order them from a manufacturer??

CAUTION! If you choose to use acid/hydrogen peroxide mix for etching, be sure you COMPLETELY rinse it off with running water, then dry COMPLETELY, before applying the acetone. If you don't, you can accidentally end up with acetone peroxide, which is EXPLOSIVE!

NEVER allow acetone to mix with hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide!

So you print on a a newsstand paper.
But the ink on the newsstands will not transfer also when you apply heat ?

The usual commercial process for etching the copper on printed wiring boards (as they are properly called, since there are no circuits until the components are soldered on) is an alkaline ammonia with chloride solution.

4 replies

You can etch capacitors, inductors, antennae and resistors, so not true.

WHAT?? Go and pick up Your Nobel-price, because if You invented the production of caps, inds, antennas, res, by simply print them on a copper-laminated fiber-glass board... You'll be a bllion-zillion-quad-zillionarer

Not sure about capacitors or resistors, but inductors and antennae can be printed directly on the PCB and they're quite common.

Suraj, OK You’r right about making them antennas and resistors right printed on the PCB.
BUT, keep in mind the ”wery…wery…” complicated calculatioin formula when doin’g that.
Antenna: (there’s a ton of litterature on that subject), act’s as a transmitter or as a receiver or them both at the same time. In all cases You have a net of capacitance + resistanse that creats inductance. This can be measured either, (or many), as a differential behaveior of electrons flow from source to drain. You can make this antenna on a PCB if you follow the next: the thicknes of your copper layer (including the concideration of the purity of the copper, it can wary some of 29% to99%), x the depth of You’r copperlayer, ( it warys ??/ ounches) x the lenght of your trace, (mils, or thou’s), Calculate THAT at first, and you get some resistance. And then calculate the capacitance of the same. And then calculate the total impedance. And then evaluate a formula of it all. Excel could do that for you if you tell it the right formula.
Good luck