PCB Making (My Method)

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Introduction: PCB Making (My Method)

About: My experience in the field of electronics led me to discover the existence of open hardware and software, in all the years that followed that discovery I just started to develop my own technologies and advis...

I've been making these Boards for a living for quite some years, it suddenly occurred to me that If we want to be successful in the manufacture of these boards, master the craft, and make money using these knowledge, the most convenient thing to do, is to share these methods that each of us have synthesize and generate a viable solution for each one, and thus achieve an efficient manufacturing method.

Up Next I will give a series of steps that if we apply the necessary and required tools we can achieve a great job

The whole process:

Step 1: ​Materials

Materials:

1.- Fiberboard PCB, 1 face

2.- Glace paper, letter size 150 Gr

3.- All Purpose Snips (Metal Cutter)

4.- Regular Scissors

5.- Sandpaper of 280 and 300

6.- Clothes iron (Do not use steam)

7.- Laser or Toner Printer

8.- Drill bits 1/32, 1/16, 3/64

9.- Dremel with base

10.- Fine marker

11.- Acid for pcb

12.- Water

13.- Pin or scalpel

14.- PLEASE DO NOT USE THE NAILS

15.- Rubber Gloves

16.-Safety Goggles

17.- Container

Step 2: Print and Cut Your Design

First of all we plug our iron and set it to the higest temperature

then we take our glasse paper, preferably white and print the design on it with a laser printer!

you can use any program you want

I recomend EAGLE

https://www.autodesk.com/products/eagle/overview

After we print our design we cut arround it leaving a tiny space like 4 mm away from the border of the design.

Now we draw the shape on the pcb board using the picture we just cut

then usig a saw or the All Purpose Snips (Metal Cutter) we cut fallowing the figure we draw.

Now, it is very important to SAND the piece until it gets a rugged surface

this helps the toner to adhere.

then we take our cutted desingn and place it over the sanded pcb, the toner facing the copper of the board.

Step 3: Three Stages of the Pcb, Iron the Paper and Wather

This is the hardest part of all the process

We need a surface easy to grab, like an old notebook or book, to iron the piece on it

The water (Fresh themperature) must be close to the ironing

we are going to iron the paper on the pcb using the tip to carve the corners of the pcb piece

then the toner will heat up and adhere to the copper(Sublimation)

Do this for at least 3-4 minutes

be careful, the piece will get hotter... and hotter.

if the piece is smaller than the iron you can leave the iron over the pcb applying a little pressure.

otherwise, if the piece is bigger, you must keep carving it, dont leaving any part to get cold, becouse

THE TONER EXPAND IF IT GETS COLD SLOWLY!!

when the time passes and it looks that the toner is completly adhered to the coper,

take the piece and toss it in to the water, FAST!

HERE IS THE MAGIC

if all went well, you can remove the paper from the pcb, please do not use your nails,

if some paper remain adhered to the copper, use some damp paper that you already remove to carve it,

Step 4: Acid

Pour some PCB acid on a container

then drop the piece of pcb in it

this time depends of many variables:

The acid is new

The acid is good quality

The acid is hot (i dont recomend this)

you can use a translucid container to iluminate it from the bottom and see if its ready to pull it out.

you can mount your station if you plan to produce many boards.

ALWAYS USE THE GOGGLES AND GLOVES IN THIS STEP!!!!

Wen you pull it out, wash it with the same water you used to cool it

you can remove the toner with acetone or sand it (230)!

Step 5: Drill

This part of the craft, is easy if you have a workstation,

Practice with a scrap piece.

I recommend to drill all the holes with a 1/30 drill bit

then you use a bigger one bit to finish the job

Step 6: Paint Your Desingn, Learn, Create Expand!

Make your creations a brand, paint it the color you want, with spray paint.

I´ve been working with this since 2007, i'm a maker, a colaborator, a friend .

Thankyou for reading

Actions are words in movement!

create your words!

Step 7: Video Tutorial

the easiest way to explain it

Step 8: If You Have Another Method Share It

I've been doing this for a while now(10 years), but from 2 years from now i use it only for Small circuits.

i've learned that any method, any software is cool to use!

Find out what you want, what you need and what you have...

This is chemical reaction, just 1, and i rather use one reaction, just ONE!

I also used the press and peel method,the milling method (No Chemical), the marker method, its all cool...

he UV method the most precise method:

I love this one, its precise and professional, i've made an automated system of this (TOP SECRET XD), but you need too many materials, UV LEDS (i've made a set of it using this method Check the pictures), which is delicate, especially if you have small children running arround, for the acetone, and the POSITIVE DEVELOPER, its complicated with the pcb acid already imagine with 3 chemicals, (my opinion). It is the best one but that's your decision.

But from now on i just contract a specialiced service for bigger boards.

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    14 Discussions

    I have done this quite a few times & have occasionally run into problems because I did not know that the toner expands if it cools slowly. Nice to know!

    With very small boards you can use less acid if you etch it in a sandwich bag & hold it in your hand. Tilt it back & forth to agitate slightly. 2 oz is plenty.

    2 replies

    no matter what you will do their will always be, you should try this scenario, go for photoresist method, much much easier and better process.

    In my experience, it's not cooling slowly that causes the toner to expand; it's too much pressure and heat that does it. Try turning down the temperature of your iron.

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    ArifSae

    Tip 4 months ago

    Toner transfer is like weight loss recipes, everyone claims it works, but in reality it dosent (easily or repeatability) that's the reason you see gazillions of instructables on this topic alone. I am also one of those who tried everything from mag papers to specially transfer papers, but of no use.

    If anyone wants to save his soul and sanity, go for photresist method, it costs almost same, and even I with not much good skills made thinnest traces of my life > 0.3mm for atmega128a IC.

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    JimG50

    7 months ago

    Nice project. I've used this toner transfer idea too. To clean the copper board at the start, I use Katchup instead of sanding unless there is a need to scrape the surface.

    I always thought I caused widening of traces by too much pressure on iron against the board but will look at your idea about cooling too slowly. Interesting.

    After cleaning the board with acetone and drilling it, I spray it lightly with

    Rust-oleum Gloss Clear to keep the copper shiny. It does not affect spot soldering.

    73, Jim

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    keesj

    7 months ago

    Hello,
    Your method to make pcb's with layers looks to me becomes difficult.
    I shall tell you a few things how I make pcb board with double layers
    It also excludes uv light, which I use to project my design on a positiv photo layer and develop it afterwards.
    Fort that I made uv lightbox with uv tl light.
    Next to that I made a vertical etching bath with a heat element attached to it. The heat element is controlled with a thermistor and the movement of the acid by an airpump also used for an aquarium pump.
    The whole etching bath is made out of glass fixed with silicone 90 degree angle profile.
    Another comment I want to make is to use open source kicad which is free to use, you can also use filled zones, so that you only do a minor etching. I see that with your method you ignored that.
    The least you etch the less quicker your acid get saturated.
    With the above described method your etching fluid lasts longer.
    Furthermore you can then make a pcb with more layers, after converting the kicad files to gerber files and upload it to a cheap chinese pcb boardmaker for instance smart proto typing.
    I think these considerations in mind you can save a lot of work.
    By the way you can order pcb boards with a photo layer on it, if you want to skip the process to get the photo lacker on it or use stencils with a photo layer on it, which was seen in a previous pcb board making instructable.

    1 reply

    Cool! read the 8 step.

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    joen

    7 months ago

    In Step 3, "Tree Stages of the Pcb,". I don't understand. I like your way of making PCBs. Since I don't make too many PCBs I have used shiny magazine pages to print my PCBs on with some success. If I had to make a lot of PCBs, glace paper would work better. Well done.

    2 replies

    Thank you, It is difficult to explain to me sometimes, because English is not my native language, I will try to explain it better, please note the video that is a bit more clear

    I'm sorry, I guess I am the one not explaining it right. In step 3 did you mean "Tree" or "Three"? Actually you explained everything very well. Since English is not your first language then you did better than I would have if I had to do it in another language. Again, Great job!

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    gm280

    7 months ago

    Great tutorial. I have made tons of PC boards over my life time. And my best method thus far, not counting sending my designed PC boards out for production, is to us a special transfer paper called PNP Blue (Press-N-Peel Blue). It is specifically made for the PC Board transfer method and is the easiest paper transfer I've used yet. And it is easily available most everywhere. Amazon, eBay, to name a few places. I also use a home-build aerated etching tank to etch the boards really quick. I have had some etched in less the 2 minutes before. And I bought a nice selection of wire drill bits. They are available in various sizes for resistor, transistor, capacitor wires sizes. Wire sizes from #80 to #60 usually covers the spectrum. I even made a wire size template so I use the proper drill size to make the holes as close to the actual lead size. That makes for a easy solder job.

    1 reply

    I Agree! I have not used this method for a while now, I liked sharing it because I used it for a long time with excellent results, for the next instructable I will show how I do it professionally, stay tuned thanks

    as to the description of yourself. I call my self a tinker. I've used this process my self, works great thank you for sharing

    1 reply