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DIY Toner Transfer Paper (cheap and easy))

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Rolf, Jun 26, 2009.

  1. Angelgroove

    Angelgroove New Member

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    How do you tin your boards? They look good!:)

    A scanner cannot change the direction of the light.
     
  2. MrDEB

    MrDEB Active Member

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    must have been something

    causing the smudge on the pic as the boards came out very sharp, no missing areas as in the pic, except the one area on my trial .006 trace.
    as for tinning the boards, I use the liquid tin. it works good, easier to solder to.
    smell isn't that good.
    bought a small bottle from mouser, need another bottle as it is all used up.
    I was saving from one batch to the next. no real degradation in results.
     
  3. Angelgroove

    Angelgroove New Member

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    The final push

    I have it down again with the PTS and I have to say it works perfectly even if I blow it.

    The final board was 1 minute over exposed and one of the traces shot down to 5 to 6 mils. But the board rings out and if this is a signal pin with no current all the better.

    This is what I am shooting for a board that is precise when viewed under a scope or as in this case zoomed in from a high res picture.

    I have them in succession and labeled 1 through 3.

    1 is the original TTS board and you can see the pitting. Again I think it due to excess silicon oils and potently waxes in the toner that get in the way. How do we clean the transfer is my question.

    Total time from print to etch was 14 minutes. Working real fast! Now to find the pesky tin plating locally, and try out this solder mask technique with the toner system and see if it does not bake away. I have my doubts.

    2 is my first attempts at the PTS and I put the negative in backwards. Shows very well the lens effect that created with all the increased trace widths.

    3 is the final board with the very fine trace using the PTS (emulsion side down). Notice no pitting at all and fine edges.

    I will use the TTS when it is appropriate (Over 20 mil) and the PTS for the fine work.

    Now onto my actual project and making a new board where I hope to have all the traces on one side of the board. This board is a wireless stepper motor controller using a 16F87 PIC and a buffer to handle up to 1 amp of current.
     

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  4. dave

    Dave New Member

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  5. MrDEB

    MrDEB Active Member

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    I would like to say the boards look nice but

    several problems
    why all the pitting when using TTS? are you sealing with green TTF foil?
    your pcb design should not have traces that go cockeyed. As I understand it traces should only go 45degrees, 90 degrees or 180degrees, not any why you feel like.
    Makes printing a mess as it dosn't print smooth.
    never change trace size mid stream
    post your schematic an I venture a better board design could be done.
    If this is what yopu get using photo thansfer then your using the wrong method or get more practice.
     

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  6. Angelgroove

    Angelgroove New Member

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    Picky

    I guess we are even now but I have to say compared to your evidence on your boards I think mine are just a little better. Again this is a photo method with a negative. I was able to make these boards over an over, adjusting the mechanical methods only. I am done doing that and only wanted to illustrate the issue with this thermal system where the tops of the traces are eaten away. The things you are talking about are a matter of opinion. That one wavy small trace that got over exposed in the projector is testament to printing fine line traces. I estimate the thinnest section is 2 to 3 mils in width. There is no way the thermal system can match this.

    The rest of your comments are not worth merit as I see no reasons other than aesthetics to comment on changes in dimension. Here is a good argument where you are not correct. A SOIC device has an output that can handle 1.5 amps. Its pad is 20 mils in width. You have to make it to a robust connector. According to your argument you would run the 20 mils all the way to it. In doing so you will create a resistor where I squared R heating will occur. My method would draw out the 20 mils a few millimeters and ramp up to a larger trace quickly. Yes you get a choke point in the necking down of the trace but that is far better than I squared R heating in a trace. 20 mils is too small for 1.5 amps and that is a well known fact.

    I have also included the PDF where anyone else can make this board. It does nothing, I merely took a device and put 602 resisters, caps and a crystal that is surface mount. The through holes are merely there and again serve no purpose but to see if these small traces can be reliably done.

    I ask that anyone here accepting this challenge will need to take photos the same way I did so that it is an apples to apples comparison.
     

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  7. MrDEB

    MrDEB Active Member

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    I think the pittng your talking about has to do with the fact that you need to seal the toner with the green foils, not the white.
     
  8. QuietMan

    QuietMan Member

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    Howdy, I just finished this thread in a very long read (whew!).

    What got my attention was the original concept of using wax paper. I like the concept, but I also found it disturbing because of the thought of the wax coming off onto my printer fuser. Has anyone seen any negatives doing this?

    I thought the glue was interesting too.

    What are the foils you guys are referring to?

    I've used the commercial transfer sheets many tens of orbits ago, and in the last couple of years tried the Stable's photo paper. They worked, but for most of my projects I just go the traditional point to point wiring.

    I have found that trying to use a copier for it's toner sucked, since their is always some optical distortion, pinching of the traces going into pads seems the norm.

    It is amusing how many people still try to use ink jets for toner transfer. Now if I was to use ink jet technology it would be to make organic transistors and LEDs as a home brewed not quite chip technology (just a dream).

    Just my 2¢
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2009
  9. DirtyLude

    DirtyLude Well-Known Member

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    We pretty much gave up on the wax paper idea.

    They are part of the Pulsar commercial product.

    Direct to PCB inkjet looks really promising, but it's still a little more work than I'd rather do. The resolution is seriously nice, though.
    press-n-peel,InkJet,PCB Etch,Etch PCB
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2009
  10. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    The ABCs of toner transfer paper.

    Toner transfer paper requires two things to work well.

    First the paper needs to hold the printed toner image.
    Second the paper needs to release the printed toner image after the image has been laminated to the PCB stock.

    Most types of paper do an excellent job of holding the image. However the liquid toner runs between the paper fibers and make it impossible to cleanly release the image. This will leave you with what looks like hairy traces.

    Parchment cooking paper and aluminum foil are so slick that they will release the image without using water. Unfortunately it is impossible to get the image from the printer to the PCB without it falling off.

    Paper that works has a surface that is sealed with clay or other substance to prevent ink from soaking into the paper. With care and experiance you can make execlent PCBs with the right paper. The trick here finding the right paper and is getting it to release.

    Pulsar paper is coated with a special starch. The starch will hold the image when dry. When wet the starch dissolves and releases 100% of the image within 1 minute of immersion in water. My choice.

    From what we have seen on the forum I would have to say Rolf's glue coated paper works. If you can not or do not want to go the pulsar route give it a try.

    Press&Peel. I have no first hand experience with this product.
    3v0
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2009
  11. DirtyLude

    DirtyLude Well-Known Member

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    I have nothing to do with the Glue Paper. That's Rolf.
     
  12. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    Are you sure ? sorry :)
    EDIT: I fixed the offending post.

    3v0
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2009
  13. Angelgroove

    Angelgroove New Member

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    Lets talk this over again

    Once again let me repeat my testing procedure to compare the TTS (thermal transfer system) to the PTS (photo transfer system).

    TTS process was used in figure 1 and was laminated using the Pulsar transfer paper which works incredible well, I have no complaint there in fact I highly recommend it over any other system that goes into ones laser printer. After that black toner laminate came the green foil to cover the laminated toner on the PCB which it laminated, and to the naked eye, very well. Upon the one minute method at Pulsar's website using ferric chloride heated in a bag I got what you see. The toner takes quite a lot of acetone to remove and the final board lightly buffed under water with green scotch bright.

    The PTS process uses a negative which I make with standard photo methods. I use positive resist boards which are the same boards in size and weight used in the above TTS test. I set these into my light box and expose the board under 6500°K light for 12 minutes. I then develop the boards in NaOH for 2 minutes, rinse and put the board into the enchant bag with the identical 1 minute process above. The first board (fig 2) I did I had the emulsion side up. This creates a lens effect in the light box to the board that grew all the black areas by almost a factor of 2, and led to shorted out traces where on the .65mm pitch device in the center. The next board (fig 3) used the identical PTS process but the emulsion side was down, the proper way to expose a photo resist board. The issue here was I forgot to time this exposure and it was over exposed I am guessing one to two minutes. The result is a trace that went down from 10 mils to 1-3 mills. What is taken away here is that shrunk trace is the PTS system still being able to etch this trace out without any open areas. :D

    The TTS system you can see has pitting on the surface. One can deal with this by flowing solder over all the traces but that is not a very professional way to make boards. You also heat stress the board as many have seen their pads disappear when they drill their boards out. Very frustrating.

    The PTS sytem you can see in figure two and three there are is no pitting and the boards look new and undamaged due to heating the boards.

    It is this heat cycling and pitting that is representative in the TTF system. I am sure someone smart can figure out how to eliminate the waxes and an oils when a laser prints. I attribute the pitting to these waxes and oils in the printed toner. It is not something you can see very well. The laser printer companies make sure of that as this would be pointed out. But for the transfer system any wax or oil residue on the surface of the print onto the the blue transfer paper will result in the foils not adhering in those areas, as the foil only sticks to the sticky toner when it is heated; hence why you need a heated laminator. I have no answer in dealing with the blue paper cleaning it of any residual oils and waxes. When it has been transferred it can be cleaned but again any microscopic glob of oil or wax just under the surface will not be cleaned and when heated will expand quickly compared to the toner itself resulting in a pocket forming. I believe that is what happens. I have advocated that a company such as Pulsar formulate their own special toner, free of waxes and a new laser printer drum that uses newer heated non stick technology and free of the developer which is nothing more than silicon oil impregnated into a sheet that post cleans the drum. This developer comes with the new imager that only lasts about 20,000 pages. Wonder why this is its because the silicone oil is depleted for one thing and these imagers use technology that can only handle light for so long before the paper which rolls over it mars the surface.

    So again in the TTS test I used Puslar's transfer paper in the laser printer with density moved up to 5. I know this is not a density issue. The image transfer nicely to the board with nothing left on the transfer paper. So far so good. When the foil is applied I get excellent coverage. You can see the foil embossed into the traces and looking smooth and evenly covered. When I remove the foil it looks good. Again I do not believe the method is in question here. It is when post etch occurs and after the board is cleaned that under magnification you can see the small traces hugely impacted by pitting where the large areas are not so badly impacted by pitting. Regardless this pitting makes the copper thinner and attributes to losing pads when drilling. Again if none of this bothers you go for it. My PTS process is just as simple and takes the same amount of time and is inexpensively repeatable but mostly there is no pitting which is important to me.
     

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  14. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    It is wrong to think that you have achieved the best possible or even reasonable result with the toner system when you failed to follow directions.

    As I recall you used a color printer. No one does that and I am quite sure the instructions call for b/w.

    3v0
     
  15. Angelgroove

    Angelgroove New Member

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    I am sorry but once again an assumption. Black being printed is black toner and that is the same in either a color printer or in a black and white printer.

    If you look at the PDF in a previous post, and print it on a color or a B/W printer, you get the same result, black toner onto the paper.

    So please do not be biased here, my printer is top of the line and works with printing superbly, it also prints your papers very well. The problem here is simple: toner no matter what color has wax in it (according to Frank), and the foils do not stick to wax, right? Lets not forget the silicon oil on the drums for release. Your foils stick to silicon oil? I really do not believe that.


    You are so quick to demonize printers from any company yet your problem is clear you are getting debonding in microscopic sites that create heat related liquid stresses of oils and waxes that impede the full coating of your foils. Now I would agree that there are better toners out there for your process. Do yourself a favor and scientifically show, with spectrum analysis, which toners work best before jumping to anymore conclusions.

    Lets stick to the facts instead of jumping to a false conclusion.

    Have all your guests here make the board, with their favorite system, zoom in to 7X, and post their results. Anyone can dump this PDF into Illustrator if they want to turn it back into a vector based CAD drawing. From there they can copy and paste back into their favorite CAD system or simply import it.

    The chip is the TI chip recently used in a post by Mark. The lines are all 10 mils and as so many claim here it is easily done with the TTS. So lets do that and post their results. Include the type of printer used and lets see what happens.

    The good news again is my photo resist system is up and running and all with no problems, ever.
     

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  16. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    I have no association with pulsar other then the purchase of their products.

    Go for it and good luck.

    3v0
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2009
  17. DirtyLude

    DirtyLude Well-Known Member

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    Well, I've already posted mine, and it looks pretty good. I don't have any pinholing, a bit of rash on ground planes, but not on the traces themselves. I only get this rash when using the new muriatic acid/peroxide etchant. With ferric chloride I don't get any rash unless I've done something wrong. (attached)

    [​IMG]
     

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  18. kchriste

    kchriste New Member Forum Supporter

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    Some pretty sexy traces there "DirtyLude". :D
     
  19. Angelgroove

    Angelgroove New Member

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    Hi Mark,

    Your boards do look great. Do you use Puslar's green foil? If not and if you are using something else could you explain what that is. My issue is the wax and or oils that are on the surface of my laser prints. I now have something new which is the photo based system which I was using some 25 years ago. I am thrilled this is back because I was good at it then and like riding a bike it gets going fast when you begin again. I also am thrilled because I can make my own negatives for pennies where before I was paying $10 for photo negatives and those had to be perfect otherwise its another $10. That was why I gave up waiting for some new technology to come along. It has and works great!:)
     
  20. DirtyLude

    DirtyLude Well-Known Member

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    If your photo system works for you, why change? I'm not certain what more you are looking for, but your process already gives you what you will ever need in a home etched board.
     
  21. Sceadwian

    Sceadwian Banned

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    The black stuff looks like pitting that's collecting smut, not sure if you're using air agitation but you should try finer + more bubbles.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2009

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