I’m not comfortable using glossy paper for inkjet on a laser printer. It can stick on the fuser and ruins the printer. Some people mentionthis. Others pretends to nice results using normal,Â standard paper. Some also have amazing results usingÂ mailing label backing paper, orÂ glossy photo paper for laser printer. For now,Â I have tried standard paper,Â label paperÂ andÂ glossy photo paper for laser printer(see following results, except for label paper: I didn’t even managed to print on it…).
Everyone seems to report it.Â The board has to be clean.Â Very clean. Some are saying it’s important to prepare it using sand paper (or the like) so the toner has something to grip to. I’m always following those advices: clean the board with soap, use very thin sand paper, clean it again with soap, then clean it again with window cleaner to help drying it. It’s ready.
About my iron, it’s an old one. It doesn’t heat a lot.Â I tend to iron a lot of time, while I’m not sure it’s a good idea. I think it depends on how the toner has been fixed onto the paper.
|My first attempt was usingÂ standard paper. This was a on very small testing board, and results were amazing. Then I tried on a real PCB (photo). Several times. At least 4 times (maybe 5). And it always failed…Anyway, whatever the paper type is, the board has to be a little bitÂ largerÂ than the paper. Ironing will be easier and everywhere the same (hopefully).|
|Again, whatever the paper, the board has to be cleaned and prepared usingsandpaper. I use very thin sand paper, one used to sand body car. I clean it usingÂ soapÂ and ultimately usingÂ window cleanerÂ (or something with alcohol): it helps to get aÂ dry board.|
|The paper is then put down on the board, toner side on copper side.Â Pre-heat the boardÂ (using another paper, without any dust or the like). While youÂ stick the paper to the board, be sure you’re right because the toner will instantly grip the board.|
|Iron the paper. Use aÂ lot of pressure,Â everywhere. For this board, I’ve tested different ironing times: 5min to 12min, all attempts have failed…Iif you’re not ironing enough, some tracks won’t stick to board (I’ve observed). If you iron too much, tracks will get fuzzy (I’ve never observed it). I think ironing this board (10cm x 10cm) for at least 10min is ok.|
|So far so good… One ironed,Â put the board on water. Hot, cold ? With ot without soap ? Some say putting the board a cold water help the toner to fix the board. I’ve experimented it: the toner also seems to diffuse on the paper, make it harder to remove. But remember, that’s a standard paper, so it may be ok for other type of paper. Soap can also help to remove the paper. I tend to put the board onÂ medium hot waterÂ (same temp as for dishes), with a littleÂ soap…|
|After 15min, the board shows bubbles on its surface: every piece of paper without toner gets unstuck (remember,Â standard paper). This clearly shows how well the toner has fixed the board. That’s promising… You may not observe those bubbles using glossy papers.|
|You can then start toÂ gently rub the paper. You should be able to easily remove most of the paper. Only the last layer will cause problems (and still cause problems…).|
|You shouldÂ notÂ doing this, but who could resist… Just be sure not to damage any tracks.|
|Finally, after 30-45min, you can get this type of results. SomeÂ paper is still stuck onto the board. And won’t be removed, even after soaking it overnight.Now, 2 options:
|This picture shows tracks covered with paper, using standard paper. Some tracks are damaged, but the most important thing here is tracks are fuzzy, due irregular paper residues. If etched, you won’t get a workable result…Now, may I iron the board too much ? Not enough ? Some tracks did not stick to the board. I tend to say “not enough”. This is plausible as my iron doesn’t heat a lot. Next time I’ll try ironing it at least 20min…|
|Another one… this time usingÂ glossy photo paper for laser. While there’s still paper on tracks, those are accurate, well limited and quite consistent. Having paper residue is not a problem, it’s the way it sticks that is important.|
|Some tracks were damaged (still). I needed toÂ double-check the boardÂ andcorrect those errorsÂ with aÂ PCB pen. Note, on this pictures, one pen trace doesn’t mean one error: I redraw some of the tracks too make them larger. There were maybe 3 errors for the whole board. I think ÂµI didn’t iron enough.Once ready, put the board intoÂ etchant. I continually move the board into the etchant (for 18min for this one), to be sure the board is etched everywhere, equally (hopefully).|
|Tadaaaa ! Nothing to say except tracks are nice…|
|Clean the remaining toner. People say it cannot be removed without acetone. I use nail cleanerÂ withoutÂ acetone, and it works perfectly.|
|Tadaaa (again) ! Ready for soldering !|
|A nice looking result. I can even read “SirBot ProjectÂ Â Mainboard” and the very small date “2008-04-08″.|