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Inkjet to direct PCB hack?

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Hero999

Banned
Is it possible to hack and inkjet printer so it prints directly onto the PCB?

If so you could just print the artwork directly onto some pre-sensitised photo copper board, leave to dry, expose to UV, develop and etch as normal.

It might provide higher quality prints than the usual photo method because the ink sits directly on the board there will be no blurring.

A silk screen could also be printed directly on the board which could be fixed on by adding a conformal coating.

I've also heard that some modern inkjets are water proof which means that you might be able to use plain board and omit the photo process.
 

Sceadwian

Banned
You'd have to completely redesign the mechanical end of the paper handling system. Not easy but I'm sure it's possible if you're good on the physical end of making stuff. The ink itself may be a problem, inkjet inks are mostly water, the amount of visible light it block is not a good indicator of it's ability to block UV light, on the same point being water proof has nothing whatsoever with being resistane to etch chemicals, you'd have to test the inks.
 
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HarveyH42

Banned
There are inkjets that print on CD/DVD, so would need much to send a PCB through. Don't think you could get by with normal ink cartridges. Think the ink is intended for paper, or special coated media. Might not do so well on copper, but nothing to prevent you from refilling a used cartridge with different ink. It probably sprays to thin to photoresist, maybe several layers or custom driver, but you'll lose resolution. Might as well do toner transfer... Finally, my HP Photo printer claims the inks are water resistant, but not sure that is accurate, the ink ran with a little rain water...
 

mneary

New Member
The forums I've read seem to suggest that one of the best resist inks is the yellow Durabright, printed onto a fairly warm PCB blank. Then it's heated until it turns to just the right tan color.

You modify a CD tray so that the printer thinks the PCB is a CD and it's OK to print on the whole 100mm square. I haven't seen where anyone has used 1.6mm (0.062") boards; everyone seems to use half-thickness.

The pointers above will tell you the rest if you're interested. I'm still using toner.
 

Sceadwian

Banned
I never thought of those little CD units, that might work well for small boards and it'd be an out of the box solution to test the setup with. There's nothing special about inkjet inks, it just has to be mostly water because it's the water vaporizing in the nozzle which generates the ink flow from the print head. The hard part is finding a pigment which is either great at blocking UV light or chemically resistant that won't gum up the printhead and will survive being heated to the vaporization point of water. Need to find a chemist to talk to =)
 

duffy

Well-Known Member
Get some flexible PCB stock and see if it will run through the machine as-is and print on it. There's a photo-sensitive spray you could use if you can't find one pre-sensitized.
 

Hero999

Banned
I've used Inkjet for the photo process so I'm sure it doesn't pass UV.

I like both the CD and flexible PCB idea. The flexible PCB sounds like the best idea as I could put it through my laster printer then etch it directly.
 

Sceadwian

Banned
You'd have a few straight paper path for that duffy, PCB material aside copper doesn't handle flexing well.
 

duffy

Well-Known Member
You'd have a few straight paper path for that duffy, PCB material aside copper doesn't handle flexing well.

No, get a sheet of this stuff - it's more flexible than you would think, even before etching. The PCB material barely makes any difference to what the thin sheet of copper foil itself is like. I think it would go through a printer just fine.
 

Sceadwian

Banned
I'm thinking more along the lines of adhesion to the backing material.
 

duffy

Well-Known Member
Not sticky and withstands high temperature.
 

3v0

Coop Build Coordinator
Forum Supporter
Found this but I would rather use toner transfer paper then deal with toner powder. .

Yahoo! Groups
It seems the best way to use the R280 that I found was this:

- use stock ink and the DVD tray
- prep the PCB with a brillo pad, and alcohol wash/wipe. Then heat it up just
before printing, this will drive off any excess water.
- you must fool the printer with a paper CD in the tray, just lay the small
copper blank on top. use adhesive tape to hold both in place. This does require
the tray to be modified to hold the PCB.
- print from the CAD program onto the copper
- immediately dust with printer toner, and gently blow off excess.
- fuse the toner with a short warm-up on a hotplate, you'll see the toner fuse.
- etch
 

Sceadwian

Banned
Interesting method, sounds like it'd work pretty well.
 

duffy

Well-Known Member
Yeah, dusting toner like you were looking for fingerprints and then using a hotplate doesn't sound better than toner transfer film.
 

kchriste

New Member
Forum Supporter
The toner dust is so fine that it is VERY bad for your lungs if you inhale it. And don't use a regular vacuum to clean it up with either!
 
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Sceadwian

Banned
Okay, so well it sounded like a good idea, right up until you reminded me how messy the stuff is =) I do remember removing a toner cartridge from an office printer incorrectly once... They didn't like that carpet anyways....
 

Hero999

Banned
Seems like a silly idea.

I think it would be much better to use photosensitive board and go down the photographic rout.
 
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