Parchment PCB Toner Transfer: Updated

I finally got some time today to assess a new (to me) twist on etching my own PCBs at home: the “toner transfer no-soak” method from Dustin Andrews’ instructable. The advantages of this method are it is 1) faster and 2) cheaper (two of my favorite things). I’d previously been using fairly expensive ink-jet photo paper for my transfers, but the new method uses baking parchment, which is MUCH cheaper.

Dustin’s method also included treating the copper-clad with tarnish remover, which seemed to work very well indeed. After a fairly cursory scrubbing and rinsing of the slab, I gave it just a wipe-down with the Tarn-X, rinsed&dried and got a very credible transfer of my design using a hot iron. No soaking and waiting for the photo-paper to slough off, just cooling the copper before peeling off the parchment, and voilá, a good transfer.

Now if I’d only remembered not to mirror the art work for the back of the board… but, like I said, it’s been a while.

Update: Have done a little more work with the parchment-transfer method, and I have a few more observations.

First off, I’ve been using “Reynolds® Parchment Paper” brand of baking parchment, which has a very slight texture. I’ve get better results if I use a press cloth to distribute the pressure, instead of just mashing it with the iron directly. This is the result from a limited sample, your mileage might vary, etc.

The biggest bummer involved with toner transfer is finding what works for you, and the recursive cleaning after a failed transfer. Your copper has got to be VERY clean for any toner transfer to work well. We’re talking MOLECULAR clean here,  not even any fingerprints! A very good scrub with abrasive cleanser and a thorough rinse with hot running water are minimum steps to success. Add the sloshing around in tarnish remover and another hot rinse if you have troubles. Add a good wipe-down with clean acetone if you still have trouble.   Persevere and you will succeed!

Always let the iron heat up at least 10 minutes before transferring your artwork (since some irons can take a while to heat up), apply a lot of pressure and never use the steam setting! I picked up a separate “PCB iron” at a thrift shop for a few dollars after leaving some residue on m’lady’s GOOD clothes iron (don’t do that!).

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2 Responses to “Parchment PCB Toner Transfer: Updated”

  1. Michael Stone Says:

    Try prepasted walpaper

    • offlogic Says:

      Michael-
      Damn, that is a great idea! Wallpaper has got to be several orders of magnitude cheaper!
      Is this something you’ve tried and had good results with? Thanks!

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