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Cheap and good PCB etching solution.....

Discussion in 'Electronic Projects' started by Rolf, Aug 24, 2006.

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  1. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    To transfer toner you need two things to happen.

    First the toner has to stick to the transfer sheet well enough to allow the process to happen. Alu foil and parchment paper are too slick. The toner falls off to easy.

    The second is that after the toner is fused to the PCB the transfer sheet has to release the toner. The problem with normal paper is that the toner is absorbed by the paper. To prevent this use a paper with a high clay content. Slick colored magazine pages often contain clay to make the paper smooth.

    3v0
     
  2. Wond3rboy

    Wond3rboy Member

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    so i can use the magazine paper instead of the TTP rite?That would make things a lo easier.
     
  3. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    The use of the wrong mystery paper can make the process anything but easy. Remember the 2 things I said earlier, and try a variety of papers that look glossy enough to work.

    You do not want to pull the paper off the PCB. Soak it and if that does not work try rubbing it gently with a finger. If you see paper fibers in the toner stuck to the PCB (hairy traces) your need to look for better paper.

    If you think you can generate a bit a business you might think about getting some of the real stuff and distributing it locally.

    3v0
     
  4. dave

    Dave New Member

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  5. Wond3rboy

    Wond3rboy Member

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    thanx! 3v0
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2008
  6. haresh20p

    haresh20p New Member

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    thank you v much
     
  7. chuckoo

    chuckoo New Member

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    Hi,

    i would like to bring in my 10cent too..

    After looong years fiddling around with fotoresistant stuff ( mostly having problems to REPEAT the process 100% ) i turned into the TT Processing with much effort. It took a while to find out a way that gets me good and 100% reproducable results. Also my friends around do the same with the same results.

    Printer and Toner : We all use simple HP old stuff ( 1100 and LJ4S ) as printers. We use the ljconfig proggi to get most toner onto the paper. I use original and a friend of mine 3rd party toner. I had NO LUCK with one brand once used. You may need to try finding the best one for you.

    TT Paper : i tried Pulsar and Press&Peel , both work fine but tend to sometimes break smaller lines..mostly Pulsar does that. We normally use magazine paper. We have some catalogues from PC and OFFICE Stores working good. Use Paper that looks shiny and if you touch it with the tingue, tastes strangely ( coating ) if the coating tends to stick on your tongue and the paper gets wettet quick...go for a trial...
    for german guys...we can can say :

    TEQ ( Training and consultants ) works best
    FastLane ( Training ) works very good ..sometimes better than TEQ
    Schramm&Staedtler ( Office Shop ) works very good too

    If you get a catalogue ( free ) from each of them..your done for half a lifetime...

    Transferring:
    We all use reworked Laminators. Household Irons tend to inconsistant results...smearing etc. We rework them by adding a simple Temperature controller ( AVR Based ) and this one also switches the motor on/off each second, so it will run 1 out of 3 or 4 seconds only to make it virtually slower !
    Without modification , normal cheap laminators are to cool and fast...!!

    Base Material:
    Must first be rubbed with fine sanding or some other stuff to remove any coating and make the surface microscopically rough ! I use "Schleif-Vlies" ... abrasive fabric
    After that , clean it with Acetone until really clean and dry.

    Run the laminate and the print thru the laminator ( i do this 2 -- 4 times ) until it gets hot enough so you don´t wanna hold it with the fingers...

    Paper solving :

    After the laminate has COOLED DOWN , i use some detergent to try dissolving the papers coating before i put it into HOT WATER for some minutes. Once you see it gets soaked througly and it begins to move away form the GAPS between the toner lines, you can begin to peel it off gently ( mostly the OPPOSITE side ) and rub it off more then ( use the figertips or the paper alreday peeled off ) until you have it all moved away.
    After it dries, you can see the toner is now GREY to WHITE ( coating of the paper ).
    Now you can check it and if needeed rework it a little with a cutter and the edding pen.

    Etching :

    It tends to give better results if the etching is not too aggressive with TT processing. Better use processor with bubbling or other mechanical etchant movement than aggressive HCL etchant.. ( even though it works in 1 minute... ) but you may later see the letters from the paper on the copper...

    Finally cleaning:

    Use Acetone to clean off the paper coting and the toner. Be quick , use much Acetone as the toner after beeing solved tends to coat the epoxy and look unnice.


    Additions:

    You can also print the parts layout on the epoxy using the same way. I tried with color lasers but it did not work well yet...B&W is OK.

    IF YOU REPEAT THAT TAKE CARE most of that may be a bit hazardous !!!!!!!
     
  8. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    I have been using Pulsar TT paper for about two years with very good results.

    The starch coating releases the toner image 100%. What the printer prints is what ends up on the PCB. Why would it break up fine lines. And how fine are you talking about ?

    EDIT:

    With TT paper one is always ballancing the ability to hold the toner with the ability to release it. The pulsar paper does a good job on both ends because of the starch which disolves rapidly in water. But perhaps the starch is too slick and the toner beads up on fine lines where as with the paper it tends to soak in a bit.

    With the pulsar I can easily do 10 mil (correction) lines. It is rare that I find a need to go that small.

    And welcome to the forum.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2008
  9. chuckoo

    chuckoo New Member

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    i usually have 10 mil as the finest lines. I cannot tell you why exactly, but i seen this often that there are gaps in the lines , with the toner piece(s) swimming around in the water or still sticking on the TT paper. On the other hand , the magazine paper is easier to handle..as you can use one sheet per print instead of cutting the ttf , glueing it onto a carrier etc...


    It may be that the problem is somewhere else in my process...but , as a hobbyist, i have to go for the best way that fits my needs...

    maybe i will try to make some photos showing my work these days...
     
  10. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    It is clear that you are not getting the full benifit of the pulsar paper. You do not need to glue the TTP. I print the image on regular paper then tape a piece of TTP over the image with 3M blue painters tape. One strip along the top edge. Another pass thorugh the printer and the image is ready for lamination. The tape stands up well in both the laser printer and laminator. Today I used the same carrier sheet to print 10 copies of the same PCB by lifting the tape and inserting a new bit of TTP.

    The starch on the pulsar TTP is an execlent release agent. A minute or two in water and it often falls off the PCB and the tape used to hold it on. It is not responsable for the toner not getting to the PCB. The pulsar TTP is more like carboard then paper. I run mine through the laminator 4 times and it works like a charm. 2 or 3 may work but I am on the paranoid side.

    I understand supporting the process that works for you but the pulsar paper with 100% release has the potential of doing finer lines and is easier, faster, and more dependable to use.

    I have talked with the owner or maybe I should say inventor behind the Pulsar line. He is more then willing to provide personal help to anyone who has trouble with the product and is willing to buy back product from unsatisifed customers.

    Can you tell I am a fan :)

    I have run into a few people who can not get it to work, or do not want it to work. From what I can tell most of these people are looking for a reason not to use it because they are champions of not having to pay for anything.

    3v0



     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2008
  11. chuckoo

    chuckoo New Member

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    You do not need to glue the TTP.

    sorry for my little english..i ment tapeing it ....


    The pulsar TTP is more like carboard then paper.
    I run mine through the laminator 4 times and it works like a charm. 2 or 3 may work but I am on the paranoid side.

    same here...


    I understand supporting the process that works for you but the pulsar paper with 100% release has the potential of doing finer lines and is easier, faster, and more dependable to use.


    Can you tell I am a fan :)
    I have run into a few people who can not get it to work, or do not want it to work. From what I can tell most of these people are looking for a reason not to use it because they are champions of not having to pay for anything.


    I still have about 30 or more sheets, as well as some green and white trf foil , which i am definately will use up anyway...

    Ther biggest problem up to now...at least until end of 2007 was : there is virtually no way to get that stuff in Germany , except you have someone who can buy it in the USA and the send it here.

    One can buy Press&Peel, but sorry...that one was to expensive for my hobby budget...


    I do NOT want to say thet the commercial solutions are bad in any way..it was just ment to tell, that it can work with low cost material.

    i attach a photo that shows three pieces laying around here.

    Left side: A Board with transferred print ( outer line is 16mil ) , just cleaned off the paper. One can see the greyish coating over the toner.

    Top right: Another Board , etched a while ago, similar but not the same paper used..this one paper leaves more coating on the toner. The scratches in black are from the fact,, that this board lies around since some days, waiting for the drilling day...One can see the already tested to be isolating thin gaps ( 5 mil )

    Right lower corner:
    That one is already finished and ready to solder. It show a very old scratchy base material , but even that one works 100% . It was a piece of PTFE board for microwave project . In the middle you can see 4mil gaps for the SMD device SPF5122Z with 0.25 mm gaps between the pads. The drills are 0.7 mm

    regards
    harry
     

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  12. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    My German is not nearly so good as you english. :) Nice work on the boards.

    Anyone having trouble with Pulsar products can call or email for help. The owner/inventor is a very helpful person. I know overseas phone calls stil cost money to most people so email may be the best option.

    Regarding the TTF green and white foils. I find this sort of paper trimmer is much easier to use. The scrap book people use them to trim paper. It has a little knife that runs along a track.

    [​IMG]

    I am a retired firmware/software type and enjoy making PCBs. Over the past couple of months I have been working on switching to surface mount parts. You many be interested in the thread I wrote about using a Cricut (scrap book paper cnc cutter) machine to cut solder paste stencils. The stencil applied paste makes parts alignment easier. I am finding that a mix of SMD caps/resistors and DIP IC result in a board with no or few seperate vias. Here the PIC is solder to the board top and bottom.
     

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    Last edited: Dec 26, 2008
  13. cdreid

    cdreid New Member

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    For the love of god

    DO NOT POUR ETCHANTS DOWN THE SINK

    Every etchant we use is INCREDIBLY toxic. Notice the lack of birds near your house/area? Both Ferric and Cupric etchants are deadly poisons especially to birds and insects. Would you like to see amateur useage of etchants outlawed? Keep it up.

    if you're a homeowner heres an experiment for you. Pour a bottle of used ferric chloride down your sink. Wait a week. Call the plumber to siphon your tank. Wait another week. Call him to do it again because the bacteria still wont survive in your septic tank. Wait a month til your local water dept etc figure out what you did and fine you more than your house is worth.

    There is NO REASON to use ferric chloride at all now other than lack of knowledge. The stuff is lethal and an environmental nightmare.

    As for Cupric it can be recycled indefinitely:
    Etching with Air Regenerated Acid Cupric Chloride

    Meaning you NEVER buy etchant again. In fact you eventually have to give some to friends or dispose of it safely (you use LYE the solution is on the page).

    PLEASE be responsible adults.
     
  14. kinarfi

    kinarfi Well-Known Member

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    Good comment, does this works for muriatic acid also and now I shoot my foot, what happens if you pour muriatic acid containing copper on a fire, other than the neat blue flames?
    Kinarfi
     
  15. cdreid

    cdreid New Member

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    heh

    Muriatic acid is Hydrochloric acid. Usually around 21% apparently.

    And i dont know but i wouldnt want to find out?
     
  16. Triode

    Triode Member

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    Be careful what you pour in a fire, some of these things produce gasses that can knock you out before you have time to react. And if you're standing over a fire when that happens and holding a bottle of strong acid, it could turn real ugly.
     
  17. 3dOptics

    3dOptics Member

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    For PCB design I use this software:
    TARGET 3001! V14 PCB-POOL®Edition
    http://www.pcb-pool.com/ppuk/service_downloads.html
    This software is excellent, best of all it is legally FREE! You can design circuits and view the pcb in 3D. Unlimited pins/unlimited size. It allows you to print the pcb. The only limitation is you can not export mechanical milling and drilling formats/information.

    I use this etchant:
    Stop using Ferric Chloride etchant! (A better etching solution.)

    I use this paper:
    Staples "Picture" paper

    I use my laser print to print the pcb design on the glossy side of the paper. Next, I use a clothes iron to transfer the toner to the pcb copper clad. Finally, I soak the pcb in water to loosen up the paper and rub/peel it off until all that remains is the toner. Once the pcb is etched acetone can be used to remove the toner.


    Also check out:

    Easy PCB (Printed Circuit Board) Fabrication, Using Laser Printer Toner Transfer, with a Household Clothes Iron and Glossy Inkjet Photo Paper; DIY at Home; Better AND Cheaper than Press-n-Peel ( PnP / P-n-P )! Making, Cheap , Economical , fastest fas
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2009
  18. gogo2520

    gogo2520 New Member

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    I tried the muriatic acid and hydrogen peroxide for the firs time yesterday and was surprised at how well it worked. Good by Ferric chloride.
    gogo
     
  19. Sceadwian

    Sceadwian Banned

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    Either way I hope you don't just dump the leftovers down the drain.
     
  20. gogo2520

    gogo2520 New Member

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    No what I do with my old stuff is sit it outside in a bucket and let the sun dry it out. Then send it to a landfill, around were I live landfills are lined and protect the water table. besides I don't tose out that much, I go through about a pound of ferric chloride a year.
    gogo
     
  21. gogo2520

    gogo2520 New Member

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    Oh by the way did you know water treatment plants add ferric chloride to the waste to help it breakdown.
    gogo
     
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