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Who knew an old breakfast machine could be converted into a tool for creating printed circuit boards? We’ve covered many different ways of creating PCBs, including the toner transfer method. With this method, you use a laser printer to print your circuit pattern onto glossy paper or special toner transfer paper. The toner is then transferred to a copper-clad board. When you submerge the board into acid, the toner protects those parts of the board from being etched away entirely, leaving you with conductive traces on the board. One of the challenges of this process is transferring the toner to the copper-clad board. Many people use an iron or a laminating machine, but amateur radio operator Mark Schoonover (KA6WKE) modded an old Black & Decker waffle iron with some sheet aluminum to create a PCB press to transfer the toner to the copper-clad board.

His site walks you through all of his experimentation with paper, printer and heat settings, and pressure on the board while it was in the press. He found that using HP brochure paper and setting his printer to an anti-curl setting did the trick. “According to the printer manual, it slightly lowers the fuser temperature so the paper won’t curl as it’s passed through,” Mark explained.

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“I think the PCB Press is an excellent approach to making PCBs using the toner transfer method,” he said. “It’s capable of very consistent temperature, especially having the additional aluminum sheets firmly attached. It has very consistent pressure on the toner transfer paper and since the pressure is even across the entire surface of the board, the toner is pancake flat over the entire surface.” [via Hack A Day]

Matt Richardson

Matt Richardson

Matt Richardson is a San Francisco-based creative technologist, Contributing Editor at MAKE. He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.


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