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Topic: Anyone make their own circuit boards? (Read 5362 times) previous topic - next topic

Leon Heller

I've just written up the technique I use here:

Leon Heller


These are excellent responses, thanks.  I do not have a laser printer, but I do have access to one.  I'm using a Xerox Phaser right now, which uses solid wax ink.  I'll keep investigating this and see what I can come up with.


UV exposure kit, plus ferrochloric acid, plus container, plus some transparencies, plus some boards, will run you at about $150-$200. This will make pretty decent boards, and the consumables are cheaper than the prototype board maker costs per design, but if you want many copies, this becomes inefficient quickly. (The idea is to print the circuit to transparencies, then expose the boards using UV through the printed transparencies, then etch -- this is a little more robust than laser toner transfer)

A Dorkbot/PDX member makes regular orders of boards, where you get three copies of a design for $5 per square inch. The process takes about 2-3 weeks. Laen (who runs the batches) seems like a nice guy: http://dorkbotpdx.org/wiki/pcb_order

You can sub out to China, which also takes about 2-3 weeks. People on this board recommend itead: http://iteadstudio.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=19_20&products_id=508
This is just under 2x4 inches (50x100 mm), 8 copies of the board, for $25 + shipping (which is $25 for DHL).

You can use ExpressPCB to make boards in the US with quick turn-around. The boards have to be exactly 2.8 x 3.5 inches, and cost $51 without soldermask for three, plus $10 shipping. It looks like turn-around can be pretty quick. http://expresspcb.com/ExpressPCBHtm/SpecsMiniboard.htm


Feb 13, 2012, 11:32 am Last Edit: Feb 13, 2012, 11:34 am by stoopkid Reason: 1
Just gonna add my 2 cents here because more information never hurt...

I print with a laser jet onto magazine paper, transfer with laminator and etch with radioshack ferric chloride....

  • The brand of printer matters! stay away from Brother brand! I'm sure there are other culprits so if you are having trouble try someone elses printer to see if thats it. I use a samsung monochrome laser printer

  • Forget glossy photo paper! Magazine paper works just fine. Try only using pages with blocks of text but as long as everything else is done right it shouldn't matter anyway

  • Make double sided boards by printing both sides, lining them up in the light (printed sides together) and glue them together around the edges. then place the board between them and pass them through a laminator about 7ish times. Flip each time but always the same end in first. Slide it in a bit diagonally too if the size permits. This is the laminator I use. Its $25 and I've seen it everywhere, walmart, target, office depot.... It works flawlessly.

  • Stick it in a sink full of water and in less than a minute the paper will peel right off. Use the soft yellow side of a sponge pretty rough to get every last little bit between the traces off. Then etch that sucker.

I had trouble with this method for about a month. I tried different laminators, irons, magazine paper, etc. and in the end it turned out to be the Brother printer I was using. Apparently they use a much hotter toner. I've never had any trouble with any sort of magazine paper, it has all worked for me. Just as long as it's glossy and fairly sturdy, not that 4 page junk mail stuff.

For drilling, I got a $70 drill press from Harbor Freight and a little carbide bit set. Far from ideal, it wobble a very tiny bit but it works great with some patience. Foot pedal is a nice addition.


Feb 13, 2012, 05:28 pm Last Edit: Feb 13, 2012, 06:00 pm by OptimusPrime Reason: 1
Hi Alligator,
i made horrible experiences with the toner-transfer method. I tried different laserprinters, papers - i invested a lot of time in figuering out how to iron correctly, got it once, but another try failed again. Very very annoying!
I recommend everybody the faster, more professional photoresist alternative. The human error is less and its cheaper (about 30€) in my opinion. You only have to try photoexposure once.  I etch with hydrogene peroxide and salt acid, its very fast, but you have to do it outside because of toxic gases.
Take boards from "Bungard" - this is important, they are very easy to handle!
If you are interested in more info, just write me again - i'll post the whole process then.
good luck!

I attached pic's - the black one is tonertransfer(look at the holes  :0 )
the nice one is photoresist. Both are 5cm * 16cm. Care the "WS11/12" - this is gonna be hard with toner transfer  :P (excuse poor pics quality)

pictures added


I built a cnc for guitar building, but find myself doing ALOT of circuit boards. A small CNC router/mill is surprisingly cheap to build, and with free add-ons for Eagle PCB, isolation routing is a breeze. No chemicals, no special boards. Sure, bits hate glass epoxy, but if you get the depth correct, you're cutting more copper than glass.

A small sturdy build with no more than a 4" x 6" working area is all you would need. Stepper motors and drivers can be found cheap for a small 3 axis machine.

Check these links:

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