If you use the toner transfer method for your PCB, this hack is for you.

Toner transfer is my favorite method for rapid PCB prototyping down to 10 mil traces. The basic steps are already described thoroughly, you can find some good tutorials on the net :

  1. Laser print the drawings on an appropriate paper (inkjet printing on a very glossy paper then spraying toner powder on wet traces and dusting off excess toner is a method I’ve tested with success too, very convenient since it works with any home inkjet)
  2. Iron the paper on PCB’s copper faces
  3. Soak in water to remove the paper
  4. Etch

Step 2 may be very frustrating using an iron. I’ve tried it many times but even with clever tricks like toner transfer with dowel , my success rate is rather low.  With a laminator, results are much much more reproducible but you have to laminate the PCB several times to fuse the toner solidly on the copper, « several » meaning « until you’re sick and tired » (15 to 20 passes).

Step 1: Principle

So I decided to hack the laminator by slowing down its rolls’ motor using a triac controller. Instead of laminating the PCB in 10, even 20 passes, the motor is switched on 1/2 second then off 10 seconds (off-times of 3s  & 6 s can also be selected). That’s about the right amount of heat for the toner to fuse and stick to the copper. So you can feed once and attend to something else until the transfer is finished, the result will be consistent and perfect.

<p>This is a great contribution, hobby16!! I have been fumbling around with triacs to<br>slow down my laminator, to no avail up to now (electronics is not my field of<br>expertise, but I truly enjoy this). Then<br>I&rsquo;ve just found your instructable as light in a tunnel. I<br>wonder if you would still receive this message. If you do, I would very much appreciate your<br>help with the schematics, assembler and hex codes.</p><p>Thanking you in advance for your help, </p><p>Amiti&eacute;s du Mexique,</p><p><a href="mailto:victorfaucheret@prodigy.net.mx" rel="nofollow">victorfaucheret@prodigy.net.mx</a></p>
<p>Does Someone have updated links?</p>
<p>Thanks for the great guide. I'd like to give this a go as I now need to etch images that are far more complex than ones I've been making (an ongoing art/band project which involves making books from untreated steel and etching the covers using a template and rubber paint spray as the resist and the water/salt/battery charger method for the etch). The links aren't working for me either so if you wouldn't mind sending the schematics, assembler and hex codes that would be really, really appreciated. Email: in-formation@thisburningage.com Cheers! </p>
<p>Download links do not work unfortunately :(</p>
<p>Good stuff!.</p><p>I made a more advanced mod. to handle synchronous AC motors for the Apache AL13P heavy duty laminator as well as thermal protections and a cool down sequence.</p><p>http://www.clubjameco.com/index.php/projects/project_brief/24/21353/laminator_mod-_pcb_toner_transfer_from_parchment</p>
<p>Hallo </p><p>can you post links on googledrive or dropbox for</p><ul><li><br> <a href="http://faztech.free.fr/uploads/laminator_sch.pdf" rel="nofollow">Schematics</a><li><br> <a href="http://faztech.free.fr/uploads/grad16F84.zip" rel="nofollow">Assembler &amp; hex </a>code for 16F84 or 16F84A<li><br> <a href="http://faztech.free.fr/uploads/grad16F628.zip" rel="nofollow">Assembler &amp; hex</a> code for 16F628A</ul><p>because the links are broken</p><p>Thank you</p>
<p>The same warning happens with Firefox. Since I'm a Xubuntu user, I risk to enter and the links are down anyway.</p>
<p>Hi</p><p>Your links pop up a Chromium window saying the page contains malware. Could you send me the Schematics and the Assembler &amp; hex codes?</p><p>Thanks</p><p>alanete1961@gmail.com</p>
<p>Would you kindly send me the schematic, and both assembler &amp; hex files.</p><p>The links seem to be down again.</p><p>Kind Regards</p><p>jcnezbeth@comcast.net</p>
<p>Could you please send me the schematic, assembler and hex . I always get error if I click your link. Thank you very much.</p><p>My email address :djoko_prajitno@yahoo.com</p>
This method gives great results; thank you for this excellent Instructable. I am using the Harbor Freight laminator (part number 92499). I accomplished the pulsed power to the motor with an Arduino and a mechanical relay instead of a PIC and a triac.&nbsp; I got the <a href="http://shop.vetcosurplus.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=13665" rel="nofollow">Arduino</a> and the <a href="http://shop.vetcosurplus.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=12844" rel="nofollow">relay</a> from <a href="http://vetco.net" rel="nofollow">Vetco Electronics</a> in Bellevue, WA.
<p>Did you do a thermostat mod to it to make the temperature higher?</p>
Thanks so much for this! I can't say enough how awesome this works me. I made a small pcb to fit inside the Harbor Freight laminator. I'm on 120v 60Hz for those wondering if it works or not. Finally, successful pcb and top silkscreen EVERY time now!!!!
I usually only pass my boards through twice, different model though. Worked great from the start, no modifications needed.<br><br>Look for a laminator, that will handle thick pouches. Use thinner PCB material. Unless you are doing some high power boards, with large, heavy parts, you really don't need the thick stuff. You'll most likely find a case for you project eventually.<br><br>Another bonus point with thin board, it's easier to cut (paper cutter), and drill.<br>
@Harvey,<br>You must have a higher temperature laminator.<br>I initially tried the temperature hack (shorcut the internal thermostat and use an external regulator for testing) but since the machine started to smell bad, I didn't try further.<br>Where do you buy thin PCB ?
http://www.goldmine-elec-products.com/products.asp?dept=1034 - their scissor-cut copper clad is very thin, no thicker than photo paper.
Anyone have the schematic and hex file for this project? Really like to built it but download aren't available anymore
@dvo4 <br>Problem with the provider htaccess file, fixed now. Links are ok again.
Hello Hobby16: <br>I am very interested in your laminator project PCB , I think it's great! <br>I have a laminator (Chinese) cheaper than buy, bring two rolls with resistance, the motor and the control- board. <br>By removing the original control- card, left the resistance (wires 4), <br>motor (wires 2) and AC- cord (wires 2). No internal thermostat!!!. <br> <br>My question is: how to connect the cables of all these parts to your control board?, Excuse me, but you make connections to the control circuit in the tutorial are not very clear to me. Please, I need a more clear schematic. <br>My e-mali: jepalacios44@yahoo.com. Thanks, <br>JAIME

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