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Laserjet Toner Transfer Instructions

These are instructions on how to make a Printed Circuit Board with a Laserjet Printer.

Tools You'll Need

A glass, ceramic, or plastic dish or tray in which to do the etching that can stand 100oC
Some mugs/jam-jars to mix the chemicals that can stand 100oC
A measuring jug
A reasonably accurate means of weighing chemicals (though you can get clever by weighing a lot on kitchen scales, then dividing the pile in half, then half again and so on).
A kettle
A small plastic sieve (a tea strainer is good) that can stand 100oC
A few small (< 5mm) glass, ceramic, or plastic beads that can stand 100oC
A funnel
Access to a good-quality laserprinter

Consumables You'll Use

Double-sided Copper Clad Board
Jet Print Multi-Project Photo Paper
Ferric chloride

Printing the Design

Get the Right Paper

If you don't have the right paper, your design will never transfer. Fortunately, we have pinpointed a common type of paper that is also very inexpensive. It is called Jet Print Multi-Project Photo Paper and you can buy it at an office supply store or directly from the manufacturer at that link.

Use the Right Printer

You must print off circuit design with a Laserjet printer. You want it to be bold strong black and the toner should not peel off anywhere on the design. You may have to muck with the settings, but turning the quality up, and set the paper type to Bondpaper or some other heavy setting. Make sure that your printer does not try anything funny like scaling the PDF to fit the page.

Transfer the Design

Clean the board

Before you transfer, make sure to scour the board with a kitchen pad or fine sandpaper, and then clean it with rubbing alcohol. This will ensure a nice solid transfer. Make sure all the alcohol evaporates before you iron.

Iron the transfer

You transfer the design by melting the laserjet toner to the copper board. Simply lay the trimmed printout of the board toner down on the clean copper. Move the iron onto the design near the middle. Slowly move it side to side, easing towards the edges to avoid ironing in bubbles. Iron for a couple minutes until you can see the circuit traces start to show through the paper. If you iron for too long or too hard, the traces will bleed. You have to be really pushing it though.

Double Sided PCB:

First, mark the mounting holes on both transfers with a pushpin. That way you'll know where to drill when they're face down. Next, iron on one side of the design. Then you will want to drill out the mounting holes. Flip over the board and use the pushpins to align the second layer design with the drilled holes. Iron on this side, removing the pins as you get closer with the iron and the transfer starts adhering.

Soak in Water

Get a tub big enough for the board to fit in. Fill it with warm/hot soapy water and put the board, paper and all into it.

Set a timer for at least 20 minutes. Flip the board halfway through.

Once the timer goes off and the board looks well soaked, SLOWLY peel away one corner of the board. If it peels easily and without showing signs of tearing then continue slowly peeling. At any sign of it not coming off, stop and continue letting it soak. Its not ready yet.

Once you get the paper off, use your fingers to gently wipe the off the slime that the paper left behind. After that, use a cloth to gently dry the board. Or you could hang it up to dry too.

More Information

For a great guide on how to do Laserjet toner transfers, see this website.

User files and further info

Some user files, for toner transfer of Gen3 Electronics can be found here :

You're Done! Now you're ready to etch.

-- Main.ZachSmith - 12 Feb 2007