This describes an easy method to make professional looking two-sided printed circuit boards at home.

Step 1: Get ready

This instructable assumes that you know how to generate a layout file using Eagle PCB or similar layout program. I use the toner transfer method of making PCB's (printed circuit boards) much like many others. The basic idea is to use a glossy paper, print the PCB design on the paper using a laser printer, and to use a hot iron to transfer the toner to the copper. I use the glossy paper that they have behind the counter at Kinko's. Go to Kinko's and ask for some sheets of their glossy laser paper, which is really cheap (about 5 cents a sheet). Some people advocate using glossy inkjet photo paper, but I think this is a waste and the cheap glossy laser paper comes off easier.

Anyway, once you have your design and paper, you will need to print the design. The key here is to mirror the top layer so that it will come out correct once transferred to the copper board. It can also help to include alignment marks (the T shaped things in the pic) beyond the edge of your PCB to help you align the two layers. See below.

See the images.<br>You can get good result easy.<br>Just use FAIRY (dishes cleaner) and a kitchen sponge with a abrazive green part<br>to clean well the copper board. after that just dry well with paper towels and <br>put your pice of paper from the printer. use the iron, mine is PHILIPS AZURE 2400W(cheap one, normal one).Press with iron for 5 to 10 minutes(moving and pressing), after that pull the paper, soak in water for 10 min or so.<br>start rubbing with your finger and with toothbrush until traces clean withouth paper.<br>then use feric cloride to etch.<br>that's it.<br>sory my bad english.<br>want to know more just send private message.<br>or also leave here a message.<br>bye.<br>
<p>samsung clp-365w doesn't work, toner doesn't stick to the coper. Also don't use inkjet photopaper because you will not get it of the pcb</p>
<p>Wow, those look beautiful! I just purchased a high resolution laser printer. I will have to try to find the same paper you used. It came out so nice!</p>
Hi Bowtie41,<br><br>Print your schematics, go to Photocopy Shop / Copy and Printing Services Shop nearest and you bring your own Inkjet Printer or clean used Calender Paper... Give it to them... Cheap &plusmn;$0.05 USD services...
*Print your schematics to standard / blank / white or colored paper...
<p>I have a inkjet but want to make my own PCBs so I've been looking at used laserjets.I need some info before I buy one please?Are there any known brands of printers and/or toners that WON&quot;T work?Also,does the toner image have to be black ink?I found a nice used Dell 3000cn that was low on black and yellow,but comes with 5 new cyan cartridges!Thank You for any input you can provide!</p>
My understanding is that it is the &quot;fusing&quot; of the toner to the PCB that is important to the PCB etching. So color should not impact performance and cyan should work. I have not had any experience with a laser printer or toner that did not work, nor have I kept track of ones that did work, they all did, but YMMV. Good luck.
<p>May I suggest that you take a hole puncher and punch a few holes in the un-printed perimeter of the &quot;top&quot; sheet (in the non-image area). Align over the other print as described over a window or lightbox, and when things are aligned, apply tape over the holes, which will hold the sheets together sufficiently for you to then tape a more durable seam (which can be made by setting both pieces of paper on a paper cutter, preferably a rotary type</p><p>An alternative is to just print the two masks alongside one another with alignment marks on the &quot;outboard&quot; sides of each and a centreline between them -- then gently fold while over a lightbox/window, get the alignments right and smooth out and flatten the loop of paper to fold, which should crease right along your centreline. Look ma, no tape.</p><p>I print my transfers on small pieces of transfer paper taped down to a carrier sheet, which is passed through the printer once as plain paper, then I tape working size pieces of transfer paper down and print it a second time. This conserves the (slightly) more expensive transfer paper.</p><p>Owing to slight variations in the paper feed, the transfer sheets may not precisely align to the original prints -- it's easy enough to then fold the original paper as above, and re-position the transfers over the sheet using the lightbox.</p>
Great ideas. Thanks!
<p>How did you add the alignment marks in Eagle?</p>
<p>I made a dummy part with the desired shape, but since it is also nice to have the alignment marks outside the PCB area so you can verify the layers are still aligned after inserting I've had to add marks manually to the PDF. This is due to the size limits placed on the free version of Eagle. If your PCB is small you can add marks in Eagle directly. In the pictured PCB I am fairly sure I had to do it manually. So I'd export the PS/PDF and open it in a drawing program (such as inkscape or illustrator) and add the marks manually.</p>
Don't flush ferric chloride down the toilet. You can easily save it in a jar for later reuse! I use glass baking style pans for etching, and just snap a cover on, and I'm ready for the next etch later. <br> <br>A) Unless you have all-plastic pipes, it's not good for them, B) it's a strong acid, and even if you neutralize it with baking soda or lye, C) it contains copper after you're done, and copper is difficult to remove at the treatment plant, and toxic to marine life, and D) it's illegal in many places in the U.S. As someone else mentioned, if you have a septic system instead of a public wastewater system, you might create a multi-thousand dollar problem for yourself. <br> <br>I don't know a good thing to do with used up ferric chloride, but mine lasts a really long time, partly because I fill my designs with big areas of ground/power plane so I don't need to etch away much copper. For the couple of batches I've eventually disposed of, I neutralize it with baking soda, evaporate it, and take the residue to our local hazardous waste disposal along with batteries, paint and fluorescent lights.
<p>Nice of you to do that. Why not use HCL and H2O2, its really effective and fast.</p>
<p>That is a great idea, and exactly what I do now! I used up my last batch of ferric chloride and started following this instructable: <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Stop-using-Ferric-Chloride-etchant!--A-better-etc/" rel="nofollow">http://www.instructables.com/id/Stop-using-Ferric-...</a></p><p>You still eventually end up with some (very toxic to marine life) copper-containing waste, but it takes a lot longer, and you could probably even extract pure copper from the solution yourself if you were dedicated. <a href="http://www.docbrown.info/page04/Mextractc.htm#Purification" rel="nofollow">http://www.docbrown.info/page04/Mextractc.htm#Puri...</a></p>
Just a tip... <br>I have successfully used an ultra fine point Sharpie to draw traces that were scrubbed off or didn't stick. <br>I don't recall, but i may have applied more than one layer of sharpie ink. <br>(my etchant was was muriatic acid)
J:\&Eacute;lectronique Marc\PIC\A faire
it's cool
I made a board for STM32F103C8T6 ARM CORTEX-M3<br>48 pins, TQFP.<br>Just post comment if you want to know what paper and iron to use.<br>I get good boards like this in half hour.<br><br>Just check the fingerprint for that microcontroler, to see how small shoult be.<br>Always get good result.<br>I can't let the mail here because I will receive a lot spam in it.<br>So just leave message here.<br>I don't need money or anything!<br>See the photos for what I use.<br>The iron is PHILIPS AZURE 2400 WATT( normal one).<br><br>also get the board for the STM(NOT THE ONE I USE, AN OLD DESIGN ONE BUT GOOD), just for testing.<br>OK. Now you have it all!<br><br>but the most important is cleaning the surface of the board.<br>with FAIRY(yes dishes cleaning for kitchen and a sponge with a green abrasive face. use the green abrasive face)<br>I use the Paint from windows to draw!<br><br>OK. if some of you think I should put a tutorial just send me messages.<br>Thanks.
Consider using a laminator instead of a hot iron. I've used hot iron before and it's a pain. As soon as I tried laminator, I never want to use a hot iron again. For example, a GBC pouch laminator from amazon works just fine.
Good tip. Thanks.
For cleaning, I just use some fine steel wool. It takes the toner off quickly, removes any tiny shorts, and shines everything up. After that, I usually wipe the board off with some acetone to get rid of any oils or other nasties and spray a light coat of clear onto the board. It keeps everything shiny and kind of acts as a flux.
When you say clear, do you mean clear coat spray paint? It doesn't interfere with soldering at all? I've had some of the boards I've made get pretty corroded after being in use for a long time in my basement (high humidity). No failures but the corrosion is ugly. Thanks!<br>
Yes, clear coat spray paint. As far as I can tell, it doesn't interfere with soldering.
I did this and it worked great..I get digikey catalogs and the paper out of them works well.glossy and dissolves in water.HA now i have a use for all them stacked up! and this instruction is great..i never thought of binding the tow sides together first then sliding my bored in between..brilliant...Thanks
Glad to hear it worked for you. Enjoy!
its called pad2pad...... i think? Download it here http://www.pad2pad.com/download/index.htm<br>to do that click the download button :-)
I just did my first board. I had my design printed by Fedex Office (formally &quot;Kinko's&quot;) on their laser printer.<br>Acetone (Klean-Strip brand from Home Depot) removed all the toner with VERY minimal effort.<br><br>I can't comment much on the Fedex Office paper/printer/toner because I have nothing to compare it to.
How did you get the alignment marks in Eagle CAD
I just drew it in using the drawing tools (line, circle, poly, etc.) Make a copy of whatever you draw on the top and bottom layers and you are good to go.
Hi <br>You know, I did a few of these PCB boards, one or two sided, and I was never happy when compared with the &ldquo;professional&rdquo; ones. The latest one I&rsquo;ve tried to do (better) was using the &ldquo;hot iron&rdquo; technique. So, I had this glossy paper (I&rsquo;ve even used those transparent plastic sheets made special for this purpose), I&rsquo;ve printed my design on and, with a hot iron (as recommended) I pressed. <br>Well, if not hold enough, the ink will not melt and nothing will be achieved. If hold too long, then the ink melts but the strait, clean lines become smudged. And as each board is different in size and number of lines, it is almost impossible to extrapolate a &ldquo;good&rdquo; timing for all the other ones. And you cannot experiment with 20 for only one. <br>Any suggestion? <br>Thanks, <br>DAN <br>
Certainly these methods do not match professionally made boards. They are useful for one-off type quick and dirty boards though. If you need more than one, and want them to look good, I would suggest using the bare-bones service at www.4pcb.com. It is cheap and quick, and will get you a double sided PCB with tin plating, no silkscreen, no solder mask. Works great for me, both on the hotplate and hand soldered.<br><br>-Jon
can this work if i use an injekt printer...NOT A LASER ONE?thanks...
No. The laser toner is a solid that can be transferred as described. This is not possible with the ink printed from an inkjet.
ok!thank you! by the way....great instructable!<br>
you can have kinkos copy it onto the glossy paper, though.
kinkos is a print shop or something?
pretty much
ok im lost
I found the best way to clean off toner is to use non-acetone (acetate) nail polish remover. Wet a wad of paper towel the same size as your PCB with the acetate, and leave it to soak on the board for about 5 minutes. It should then wipe off easily with that piece of paper towel or another wetted with the acetate.<br /> <br /> Bigger question for homemade double-sided boards is how to solder the pins under sockets and relays on the component side of the board without a bunch of extra vias to keep the component pad connections all to the bottom layer?
This is my solution: http://DiyPcbVias.com
The answer is more heat and more solder.&nbsp; Or you can cheat the components up from the board enough to get an iron underneath.&nbsp; I prefer the first method.<br />
Excellent Instructable!&nbsp; One word of caution.&nbsp; I live in a rural area and have a Septic System for my house.&nbsp; To protect the system ( in particular the the bacteria in the&nbsp;septic tank, the bacteria break&nbsp;down the toilet paper and&nbsp;solid matter or the #2 stuff) pour your chemicals into separate containers and take them to&nbsp;a&nbsp;Hazardous Waste Facility for disposal.&nbsp; There is nothing more&nbsp;unpleasant than spending thousands for a Septic System repair or the smell.&nbsp; Just thought you should know.&nbsp;
Good tip!<br />
Thanks for the fantastic instructable!!&nbsp; I&nbsp;guess ironing correctly is the real trick... I&nbsp;have the hardest time figuring out when to stop ironing. Too much and the traces and pads smudge.&nbsp;&nbsp;I can't seem to get the resolution you are getting... :(&nbsp; I can do through hole, but until&nbsp;I get the ironing figured out SMT is a lost cause. :(&nbsp; Any tips welcome.&nbsp; Meanwhile, being able to do 2-sided would be awesome.<br />
Fine pitch SMT can be a challenge.&nbsp; The key is to clean the board well, using a scotchbrite and some solvent or similar.&nbsp; Getting good iron pressure without smearing is also important.&nbsp; I&nbsp;find that using the smooth &quot;magazine&quot; type paper is critical for fine pitch SMT while regular printer paper is adequate for through-hole.&nbsp; Even so, when scrubbing off the paper, you need to be careful not to scrub too hard.&nbsp; Leaving some of the smooth paper residue behind is OK on the bigger features, and on the fine SMT pads and traces I&nbsp;will scrape between the pads with an X-acto knife to ensure that they will not short after the etch.&nbsp; This can be a pain if you have a lot of high pin count SMT ICs, but if that is the case you should be using a commercial solution like &quot;4PCB.com&quot;.&nbsp; Their bare-bones 2-sided board service works great and is pretty cheap.<br /> <br /> For toner two-sided, the key is to have the paper sheets larger than the PCB and to tape them together in alignment outside the edge of the PCB so that the iron doesn't have any bumps to go over or will melt the tape.&nbsp; Holding the two sheets up to a window will allow you to align them, but don't expect super tight tolerances for your vias.&nbsp; I'd say make your vias pretty big (at least 1mm) since you will have to drill them yourself and small via pads tear off the board pretty easily during drilling.&nbsp; Also, be sure and DO&nbsp;NOT&nbsp;fill the vias in Eagle or similar since the drill bit will skitter off the copper via or pad when drilling if there isn't a center mark from the etch process.<br /> Good luck.<br /> <br />
Great idea and good instructions. I have one suggestion with respect to improving the "alignment marks." For circuits that include small components, like ICs, it is very important to have exact alignment of the two sides of the circuit. I aided this alignment by punching small holes (pin holes actually made with a pin or needle) in some of the pads on the laser print. I made these holes around both the periphery of the circuit and particularly included a small number of holes inside the pads of the ICs (required very precise alignment because the pins were only 2 mm apart in my circuit). Then, when the two facing laser prints are held up to a window (or, in my case, I have a backlit illuminated table) the light shining through the pin holes of one side of the circuit really helps precisely align the circuit printed on the facing page.
Sound like a great way to line them up. &nbsp;Old thread, I know, but I found it trying to figure out vias-- awesome advice re: fluxing the pads and lead! &nbsp;Off to get flux in a few minutes and try...<br /> <br /> I've had good 2-sided transfering results with this simple method:<br /> <ul> <li>I put both sides of the board (one flipped) into a single pattern image, with&nbsp;a space between them for the thickness of the board,&nbsp;printing from Photoshop with &quot;crop marks&quot; turned on.</li> <li>I gently curl the paper over (with no creasing) to align the crop marks, then tape those edges together and press the paper together to get a soft fold.</li> <li>Then I&nbsp;insert a blank pcb strip at the fold, pressing it in to get a square crease to hold the edge of the final pcb.</li> <li>Folding it again at its end, perpendicular to the first fold, I end up with a nice corner pocket to drop my pcb blank into.</li> </ul> To laminate, I&nbsp;put the blank into the pocket and feed it through my laminator. &nbsp;After one pass, I cut off the folded over side of the pocket (to keep the peper thickness even)&nbsp;and laminate another ten times or so. &nbsp;I've been getting very nicely aligned layers.
This has been an absolute education for me and i cannot wait to give this a bash. I do however need to know where I can purchase all of the needed equipment&nbsp; mentioned, As I live in London,England the small village across the pond.&nbsp;&nbsp; <br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Hope you can help? Many thanks Stuart and Emma<br />

About This Instructable




More by jmengel:Laser Cut Front End Loader Toy Laser Cut Ukulele Electric Brewery Control Panel on the Cheap 
Add instructable to: