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Still Struggling with my 1st PCB toner transfer

Discussion in 'Circuit Simulation & PCB Design' started by JohnnyB60, Nov 11, 2010.

  1. Mosaic

    Mosaic Well-Known Member

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    While it may be convenient to buy the paper...I have never done so. Being on the green side I use paper from magazines only. Once photography is important to a mag u get good (clay content) paper to reuse.
    Thus the majority of Women's mags, like Style, Seventeen, Oprah, Better Homes, Women's Health, Elle, then u have the other quality mags like Nat Geo, Smithsonian, Astronomy. You get an enormous amount of pages in magazines like Style, one mag. might last you a year, unless u want text only pages to use.

    Don't use the paper in the giveaway catalogs like Parts Express, Harbor Freight, Jameco and so on....you get a 50% failure rate. Avoid paper that has dark images. Light coloured pics and text work the best for me.
     
  2. JohnnyB60

    JohnnyB60 Member

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    Wow. I finally understand it. I’ve seen this mentioned before, but I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about until now. The funning thing is that yesterday when I ran out of HP paper and opened up the Kodak paper there was a printed page inside that looked exactly like the photo paper I was using. It never occurred to me to use that.

    Thanks again
     
  3. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    Mosaic it is sounding like you have never used pulsar paper. But by the same token maybe I have never used really good found paper. I have tired quite a few.

    Unless there is tape holding the Pulsar paper the the PCB it literally floats away after a minute or two. I do not worry about the spending 1.7 cents per square inch (figuring $1.50 a sheet) for the paper. JohnnyB60 I expect it has been $15 for a while. It may have been all along and I slipped a bit or two. How long the pack of 10 sheets will last depends on your use. For personal use it should last a few years. It does not go bad.

    By its nature all toner is somewhat porous. The green foil can be placed over the toner to seal the pores. A pore is not a pin hole but smaller. I use it for work that I really want to do a nice job on or where I have fine lines. I would use it all the time but I forget or am lazy about it knowing that it will work without it. How good does it need to be ? That depends on the board.

    The white foil is for adding graphics to the board. After etching you do another toner transfer and apply the white foil. I do not use it. I paint my single sided PCBs white and coat the toner applied graphics with clear acrylic.

    19918d1213911095-magic-mini-magic-switchboard-should-i-make-kit-magicpopulated.jpg
     
  4. dave

    Dave New Member

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  5. bobledoux

    bobledoux Member

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    I like the Pulsar paper.

    To minimize the amount I use I manually feed a sheet of printer paper through the printer to print the board trace. I then cut a piece of Pulsar paper a bit larger than the trace. The Pulsar paper is placed over the printed image and secured, on the top edge, with a peel off address label. This sandwich is fed through the printer to print the trace on the Pulsar paper.

    I use the green foil. It creates an abrasion resistance surface. This allows me to etch the board with ferric chloride solution on a sponge. The Pulsar website describes this low-tech solution.
     
  6. JohnnyB60

    JohnnyB60 Member

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    I’m still not clear on exactly how you use the foil. I’ve searched YouTube for an example and haven’t found anything yet.

    Anyway, I decided to try doing a transfer that I printed yesterday on some HP photo Paper and it looks like it might have worked only I’m still trying to remove the paper. It just doesn’t want to absorb water. I tried hot water and it’s still soaking, but I think I might be in trouble because of the type of paper.

    I also wanted to note that I had asked in another thread if I could print it out at work and bring it home to apply and when I pulled out the sheets I discovered that they had impressions on both sides. I printed out a couple of sheets and put them into a folder to keep them clean so now that they copied on to each other I don’t know how much toner was left.
     
  7. JohnnyB60

    JohnnyB60 Member

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    I’m still trying to get the paper off, but I’m getting closer. The paper is more like plastic and doesn't want to soak up the water and come off.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    Toner is plastic. It gets sticky when it is hot. In the laser printer the fuser heats the paper with the powdered toner on it to fuse the toner to the paper.

    After you transfer you artwork to the PCB you put the green foil on top of the toner and heat it again with a laminator (maybe iron) and the toner gets sticky. When cool you pull off the plastic backing leaving the copper/toner/foil sandwich.

    There is a video on the web site for the place that supplies OZ with pulsar products. Ultrakeet maybe.

    To use paper for toner transfer it has to do 2 things well. Hold the toner when not wet. Let the toner go when wet. Lots of material are good at on or the other.
     
  9. JohnnyB60

    JohnnyB60 Member

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    The outside surface of this HP paper is definitely some kind of plastic and not from trees. It does not absorb Water. It is melted to the copper and I can’t get it off without damaging the toner tracing. I’m going to probably have to start over because cracks are appearing in the traces from picking and scrubbing at it. So I’m going ahead and order the Pulsar Paper, because this is ridiculous.
     
  10. HarveyH42

    HarveyH42 Banned

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    When I first started with toner-transfer, I tried to go on the cheap. Basically every kind of paper I could find, different heat settings on the iron, pretty much any tip I could find on the web. Bought some Staples inkjet photo paper, with similar results as picture above. Comes off a little better, if you start peeling when the board is still warm. Found all this a lot of work, and disappointing results didn't help justify it. Wasn't sure if I was ironing too long, or long enough. Too much pressure, on too little. Some combination, wrong paper. I found a cheap surplus 4" laminator for around $20, and decided to give the Pulsar paper a try. Ordered both, and both orders arrived on the same day, about a half hour a part. I wanted to build projects, not spend all day trying to get a board etched and drilled. I do two passes through the laminator, paper releases in seconds under running water, no 15 minute soak, and another 10 minutes scrubbing pulp. Seldom get a bad transfer, or need to go over the entire design, touching up with a pen. Once the paper is off, I'm ready to etch.

    It's really a matter of what's most important to you, and how much free time you have, and patience. I don't mind buying the paper, saves an incredible amount of time and frustration for me, and well worth the price. Cutting down the full sheets, makes it more cost effective as well. I cut it into quarters, and try to fill it with multiple copies of the same board, since I usually intend to make more than one anyway. Some people like the challenge of learning new skills, just as much as building the project. Others like to do it for as little money as possible, not so much that they need to, but there is always satisfaction in getting something for free, the most people have to pay to achieve.
     
  11. JohnnyB60

    JohnnyB60 Member

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    I’m the guy who likes to do it for as little money as possible, but I have my limits. This project is just a small stepping stone of a much larger project. As soon as I get this done, I can move on to the more important parts, so I’m now willing to pay the piper so to speak becausing I’m losing time.
     
  12. Transistorman

    Transistorman Member

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    0.01 works for me

    [​IMG]
     
  13. JohnnyB60

    JohnnyB60 Member

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    That looks good. Maybe I'll try that after I ever actually finish one.

    I just finish changing everything to 0.04”. I figured since I have to start over anyway because of the plastic paper that I’d play it safe with the larger size. I’ve had three tries at this and three is supposed to be the charm so I guess I ran out of luck. I hope I don’t wear out the copper from all the cleaning I’ve done.
     
  14. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    In Eagle there is a ULP called center drill that fills all the drill holes on the artwork. It leaves a spot in the center just large enough to help position the drill. With it you always have copper to the very edge of you hole even if you are off.
    If your not using Eagle check your software for similar.

    When getting started it is best to say with wider line widths. I often stay with .016" and reduce the line widths in congested areas. Best of both worlds.

    It is not too hard to understand why people like to used fine lines when they do not have to. They want to make their boards look like they were professionally made. This is the wrong goal! Rather shoot for a PCB layout that will give you the best chance of success and is easy to build. Our cost per unit area is much cheaper then from a board house so there is no need to compact the PCB quite as much.

    Design you PCBs knowing that you do not have plated through holes. You can use through hole caps and resistors as if they were plated through. On pin headers you can pull off the plastic and solder the 2nd side if you are careful. For through hole IC's I prefer to use a via near the IC pin. I have not had much luck with using machine pin sockets and soldering top and bottom.

    The DIY PCB is not hard to make once you get it right. After we build the first we can make minor adjustments on the artwork for a better design on the next.

    As some of you know I have the use of a CNC to drill the holes. I drill then etch with toner transfer
     
  15. JohnnyB60

    JohnnyB60 Member

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    Thanks, I’m using PCB Artist because I wanted to do an 8x10 board and Eagle was limited unless you buy the program. PCB Artist has a center drill hole in all the pads and allows me to change the size of the hole. Right now I have it set at the default of 0.035, but I think I’ll reduce that down some for the alignment points that I added yesterday.

    Originally I wanted to add a 10-Pin Header to interconnect the boards, but I was having such a hard time running the traces on a single sided board that I gave up and decided to just solder flat ribbon directly to the board.

    Well it’s Sunday morning and I don’t know how long shipping will take for the Pulsar paper to be delivered. I want to get this thing done so I’m thinking of grabbing one of the wife’s magazines and making a trip to the office to print another transfer using the pages from the magazine.
     
  16. lilimike

    lilimike Member

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    Hi 3V0,

    What is your process going from Eagle to G-code to have a CNC drill the holes? I have recently built a CNC and I am still learning it using Mach3. When I make my own PCBs I have up to now only made single layer but i am thinking that drilling first would be a good way to align the two layers (based on holes positions).

    On a different subject,
    I have been using Press-N-Peel blue paper with very good results, how does this compare to Pulsar Paper?

    Mike
     
  17. DirtyLude

    DirtyLude Well-Known Member

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    The paper you are using is not very good and it's your biggest problem. I still have a bunch of Staples photo paper that I use, but it's not sold anymore. I don't know what the latest 'best' paper is right now, but many people swear by the heavy magazine paper. You might want to check the DIY PCB Yahoo Mailing List.

    Homebrew_PCBs : Homebrew Printed Circuit Boards
     
  18. lilimike

    lilimike Member

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    I have a feeling people are using magazine paper due to cost issues. If i have to pick between cost and time I prefer saving time (to a certain level)
    Using press-n-peel blue paper makes the end result excellent for me using 10 mils traces. If Pulsar paper is just as good as my blue paper I just may switch to Pulsar because it is half price as the blue paper so I would not increase time while saving on cost. I normally do not make PCBs larger than 12 square inch and I don't want to spend more 30 minutes to make a board from printing to ready to solder.

    If anyone used both Press-n-peel and Pulsar and can describe the differences that would be great.

    Mike
     
  19. JohnnyB60

    JohnnyB60 Member

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    Thanks! I still don’t know exactly what was in the HP paper but the only way I could get it off was by heat and then I lost most of my toner. I did make a second copy on some Kodak paper but I’m not even going to waste my time. I am going to try the magazine paper.

    I wondered about the Staples paper because I watched a video on YouTube from Makemagazine “Make Your Own Printed Circuit Boards on a Laserjet!” and they recommended the Staples paper, but when I could not find it.
     
  20. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    If P&P is working for you may want to stay with it. There can be a learning curve for either product and when you have one dialed in the other can seem like crap.

    To generate the G-Code from Eagle find and install PCB-GCode. It is a ULP that runs under Eagle. You have the option to generate Top and Bottom Gcode for both isolation routing and drilling. I do not much care for isolation routing.
     
  21. JohnnyB60

    JohnnyB60 Member

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    I haven’t even looked into the Press-n-peel paper and don’t know anything about it. I did see a single small dirty package at a Fry’s Electronics store, but it was expensive and the package wasn’t very impressive, so I passed. Maybe I should take another look.

    I’ve had a lot of practice with toner method and I’m confident that if I can get the correct paper, I’ll be able to do this. I calibrated the iron temperature with my IR Thermometer and except for the paper problem, I think it went very well. I was quite pleased with the results of the toner transfer. I even think at this point, I could do an 8x10 board with my iron although I'm still looking for a cheap Laminator.
     

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