Toner transfer etching

Has anyone here had good luck using toner-transfer techniques to mask a custom circuit board for etching? Any tricks, specifically for the transfer step?

Every website I read about it says it’s super easy, but I’ve been at it all week (Spring Break!!!) and I just can’t get the transfer to stick well everywhere. I prep my boards with fine sandpaper and acetone, and I’ve tried all sorts of recommended photo papers, and even got some real toner transfer paper, tried a clothes iron and a laminater, no luck. In some areas the pattern sticks great, but never all over.

At this point it would have been cheaper to get my board professionally made, but what fun is that?



My only experience is from around 15 years ago, and it wasn’t good. More recently, I had experience with LPKF’s milled PCB fabrication, and that still sucked (thought we were messing with two-sided boards and getting holes plated). Sub-$100 prototypes with solder mask and silkscreen are hard to beat!

It’s a spring-like 76 degrees here; isn’t “spring break” in February wishful thinking for Michigan?

- Jan

I’m having a little more luck now, but not much. It turns out my HP printer toner at work is a little better than my Xerox toner from home, but I’m also sad to say that glossy photopaper works 100 times better than the PCB toner transfer paper I paid $1 a sheet for, which is pretty useless!

I guess I was just excited about the possibility of putting my laser printer to work as a true rapid-fab machine! I did see something neat about laser-printing directly onto copper-clad sheets of kapton to etch your own flexi-PCB’s, but after how much this has turned out to suck I’m skeptical.

And yes, in Ann Arbor it’s been snowing most days this week, it’s snowing right now, were expecting a few inches overnight and more tomorrow. Actually right now we’re under a “Snow Advisory” which basically means it’s falling way faster than the department of transportation’s ability to deal with it. It’s a break anyway.