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Press-n-Peel PCB problem

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by George L., Aug 14, 2006.

  1. George L.

    George L. New Member

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    Hey,

    I have a product called Press-n-Pell PCB transfer film (PnP-Blue). For those not familiar with this method, you take the special "blue" coated paper and use a laser printer to print on a PCB design. You then cut out your design from the paper and put in printed side down onto a copper ("what do you call it?") You then use your cloths iron to iron on the design by pressing and heating for a few minutes. You then cool it under cold water and peel of the paper. The design you printed is now attached to the copper...all you have to do is etch. Sounds simple...but ITS NOT!!!

    I made a circuit about 2 square inches for SMD components so it has thin tracks. I have done 20+ of these and can't get the whole pattern to stick on the copper. The corner and outside areas don't come out well, but the middle comes out perfectly. I have tried everything!

    Does anyone have experience with this method and could you please give me some advice? Water cool or Air cool, press hard/light, etc.

    thanks

    George L.
     
  2. dknguyen

    dknguyen Well-Known Member

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    YOu don't have to photo expose the board?
     
  3. bobledoux

    bobledoux Member

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    I have had excellent luck with toner transfer products. Pulsar.gs has a very informational website with ideas.

    File off the burr on the edge of your board. If the transfer is larger than the board, the paper curling over the edge can lift the transfer on the edge. For serious work buy a cheap heat laminator and run your board through multiple times.

    Pulsar has a nice description of sponge etching technique. The results are excellent. Etchant use is very little and no special equipment is needed.

    Look here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Homebrew_PCBs/
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2006
  4. dave

    Dave New Member

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  5. Russlk

    Russlk New Member

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    I put a sheet of tissue paper over the press&peel, sandwitch it between two pieces of glass, clamp with spring clamps, and heat in the oven at 410 degrees F. Perfect nearly every time.
     
  6. Hero999

    Hero999 Banned

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    The Press-n-Peel paper is a total waste of money, normal magazine paper will works well enough for me.

    You need to make sure the board is very clean, I use an abrasive block to clean it, but fine emery cloth will do. Make sure your iron is hot enough too, I use the medium setting and don't prees too hard or it'll smudge.

    Finally make sure you're using a laser printer, bubble or ink jets won't work. If you don't have a laser printer then I recommend you buy a cheap one, if you can't afford this use one at work or college alternatively photocopy your design on to the press and peel.
     
  7. HarveyH42

    HarveyH42 Banned

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    Toner transfer does work well, even fine traces. The biggest problem is the copper needs to be super clean. After removing the oxidation from the copper, you will want to make sure its clean of any oils (like finger prints). I use acetone, its a cheap solvent, which also does a great job removing the toner after etching (or botched transfer...). I'm guess in finger prints on the toner image might be just as bad as on the copper, just be very care how you handle the surface you wish to bond. I use a laminator, and get great results. American Science & Surplus has a inexpense well built 4" laminator for around $25.00, which is fine for most of the boards I do.
     
  8. bbarney

    bbarney New Member

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    You might want to try a photocopier at Staples or some other place instead of a laser printer.I find the toner from them is a lttle easier to get good results because it's always fresh toner due too the high traffic of people making photo copy's at these places.
     
  9. HarveyH42

    HarveyH42 Banned

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    I'm guess his toner is fine, worked in the past, prints on paper fine. Since his problem is mainly at the edges, its most likely from handling the board.
     
  10. George L.

    George L. New Member

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    thanks for the good advice guys!

    I REALLY like the idea of doing this in the oven as Russlk said...true Genius!!! How hard do you need to clamp it, would a brink on top of it work or this that too much pressure? Also, how long do you keep it in the oven???

    Magazine paper? I am skeptikal..what Magazine did you use ;-)

    I printed 20 circuits during school using a good Laser printer and just got around to ironing them on the copper. I failed at all of them....
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Does anyone know of a good free PCB design program that I can download off the web? This would be a great help so I could reproduce the circuit quickly and not have to spend days using MS paint!

    thanks for all the help
     
  11. SPDCHK

    SPDCHK Member

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  12. bobledoux

    bobledoux Member

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    For software I use the PCB software from Expresspcb.com. Its simple to use with a short learning curve.

    After the design is complete you need to select black color and limit display to desired trace level. Robotroom.com has a description of this process.
     
  13. HarveyH42

    HarveyH42 Banned

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    Had a few thoughts... I only used the iron a few times, with limited success. That was why I bought a laminator. Toner is a type of plastic, so too much heat can't be a good thing. Could it be getting scorched or burned? When you mentioned cooling off the board with water, how long did you wait before picking up the board after ironing it? The melted toner will need to cool some before being disturbed. The PnP transfer paper has a water soluable coating, so it will release the paper regardless of temperature when it gets wet. Could be rinsing molten toner off, since the edges would be first exposed.
     
  14. mramos1

    mramos1 Active Member

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    I used to have the same problem, the edges. I learned the center of the iron seemed to be a little hotter the outter edges. All the info here right on, but that was my edge problem..

    1) make sure it copper is clean, I use denatured alcohol after I wet sand the board. (acetone to remove the toner later works great)

    2) no burrs on the edges

    3) iron on max heat

    4) iron for a couple minutes (first start by just sitting the iron on the board), and use the center of the iron to go around the edges and go slow.
    I also cut the sheet to the size of the copper.

    I get perfect boards everytime (until I drill them :D) and I use photo paper, the pnp is a lot less work, but expensive when you have to throw 80% of the sheet away.
    But this works for both
     
  15. HarveyH42

    HarveyH42 Banned

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    I cut the PnP paper into quarters, since I mostly do small boards, and my printer handles the smaller size (3.5 X 5). So, its a basically 4 X 5 print area, still larger than most of my stuff, so I'll usually make 2 or more copies on it. If I've got a circuit I want on a PCB, usually want more than one anyway... The paper is expensive, but my spare time is too...
     
  16. Hero999

    Hero999 Banned

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    It works a charm, I've never even tried the Press-n-Peel stuff because it isn't worth the extra money. For boards with finer detail I use photoetch which still works out cheaper than Press-n-Peel.

    A pornomag, no seriously, any glossy magazine will do but areas covered with more print normally work the best but avoid the really glossy paper used on the cover.
     
  17. bbarney

    bbarney New Member

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    I used to use an iron and photo paper than switched to press+peel and an iron,now I'am using a laminator and p+p all with very good results.here's what I've noticed about each process

    Iron+photo paper
    Iron needs to be set to hottest setting and you have to get the middle of the iron on the edge's of the board about 20lbs of pressure i would guess 2 1/2 to 5 min time (bigger the board the longer you iron)
    Iron+press+peel
    Iron needs to be set cooler just over the 1/2 way mark (guess) and the edge's need the same attention,if you press to hard with p+p or the iron is to hot the toner will smudge or run so less pressure maybe 10lbs same time
    Laminator+press+peel
    What can I say except easy as pie and excellent results every time wish i bought one sooner,never tried photopaper and the laminator or the magazine paper(have to try that one what's better playboy or penthouse :))
    ALL THE ABOVE NEED THE COPPER REALLY CLEAN
    Hope this helps
     
  18. mramos1

    mramos1 Active Member

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    Basically what I said..

    It works very well, the problem is probably that you are not heating the outside edges with the middle of the iron (it is hotter there).

    I did the same thing and finally figured it out. I have never have the toner run, but my wife has one of those fancy irons. Probably regulates the temp. Imagine if she walked in and saw what I did with her iron on the weekends.

    And far as playboy or penthouse, I would hope you are using the articles and ads so it should not matter.
     
  19. bbarney

    bbarney New Member

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    you didn't think I would use the good pages did you :)
     
  20. DirtyLude

    DirtyLude Well-Known Member

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    People have mentioned it in passing, but it's almost certainly that you have rough cut edges. Use a file or heavy sandpaper to take the raised edges ( burr ) off of the copper before you iron.
     
  21. bharath_sa

    bharath_sa New Member

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    Can any one tell me where the:confused press n peel blue paper is Available in Bangalore?
    Is there any alternate paper instead of this?
     

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