Sunday, 30 October 2011

Recycling!

I've been using the laser toner method for a while to make my PCBs. It seems to work well for me, I print out the PCBs using a  Samsung ML2010 laser printer, tape them to a cleaned copper board, then run them through a laminator twice. The heat fuses the toner to the board, and as long as your paper isn't too sticky, you can peel it straight off and etch.
Sticker backing PCB
I've been using this successfully, even for larger boards like my Arduino mega shield. The key variable seems to be the paper. I have the best results by cutting a square of sticker backing paper, using the stickers to stick it to the centre of a normal sheet of paper, then printing the PCB from Eagle. This works well, but I do need a sheet of stickers (like the A4 laser printing stickers) every time.

Other people have reported success with tracing paper, or magazine paper. I grabbed some tracing paper (two types, Goldline 63gsm and Goldline 112gsm) paper and gave it a try. It printed well, but didn't stick too well - you need to soak the paper to remove it, and most of my toner came off with the paper. Maybe my laminator wasn't hot enough :-(.

So, I'd run out of labels, my tracing paper experiments weren't working well - and then my eye fell on a discarded Farnell packing bill on my table. The Farnell packing receipts are printed on some sort of fan-fold sticker paper so that the address labels can be removed and stuck to the box. The whole bill is basically one big sticker! I cut a square, stuck it to a sheet of paper using the sticker I'd just removed, and ran it through the printer.
Farnell label

Perfect result, first time!  The toner transferred very well to the board:
Farnell stickers work well

Etched farnell board - success

The finished board (a SMT version of the tiny thermistor circuit) looks great and from the detail (on the lettering) this would work with much finer traces!

I'll start saving up all my old shipping receipts instead of buying printer labels now....



P.S. top tip - after the stickers have been 'laminated' and cooled, if you gently rub the back of the sticker with your thumb, a small 'bubble' forms that gently lifts the sticker backing away from the toner bit by bit. I get almost 100% adhesion with this technique.


1 comment:

PrintingHost said...

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