DIY PCB transfer media

Hello All. After having tried transferring a laser print from magazine pages and obtaining 'not good enough' results and being reluctant to spend money on photo paper while not being sure what the 'right' photo paper is, I came across some info on the net about another transfer media. I have rolls of this stuff on hand so it was a cinch for me to try. Right off the bat, with no fiddling around, it worked very well. Below are some images.

The media is cheap sign vinyl. Here are some pluses: It's cheap and should be availabe at a local sign shop or the internet. It transfers every bit of toner to the board. It readily releases from the board. No saturation in water or rubbing of remaining paper is necessary. The back of the vinyl is adhesive so no need to tape it to a paper carrier. - Scotty

How'd you get it thru the printer? Cut it down to 8.5 x 11" size?

Can you post a link?

Another option is the Press-n-Peel transfer paper. (needs a laser printer)

How'd you get it thru the printer? Cut it down to 8.5 x 11" size?

Print the PCB image on paper. Cut a piece of vinyl to cover the image. Remove backing from vinyl. Adhere vinyl over printed image.The original printed paper becomes the carrier for the vinyl. Run the paper with the vinyl affixed through the printer again.

Can you post a link?

http://www.beacongraphics.com/bgllc/amazing/items.asp?cc=IC600

There are many other manufacturers of the same stuff.

  • Scotty
Print the PCB image on paper. Cut a piece of vinyl to cover the image. Remove backing from vinyl. Adhere vinyl over printed image.The original printed paper becomes the carrier for the vinyl. Run the paper with the vinyl affixed through the printer again.

Then how do you transfer it to the PCB? Hot iron? or just stick it?

Is this in parts or what I’ve seen then cut the vinyl and use that I also seen something like the OP is taking about You pull the vinyl copy to the backing and they ironed it back to the vinyl then put the vinyl on the copper and ironed that on.

But I have not tried that But I do have the vinyl and I’m going to try this this weekend I wish the OP will post a link.

How well does it work for thin pitch? (0.5mm) The problem I have with my photo paper is that with fine picthes (less than 1mm) the photo paper gets transfered and stuck in between traces along with the toner. I end up having to scrape in between traces with a knife.

A step by step GUIs would be good, but as I understand it, is this the sequence?

you print onto normal paper just so you can see what you need to cover with a vinyl 'patch'.

Then cut a piece of vinyl just big enough to cover the area to print, leaving the rest of the paper uncovered.

Then run it through the printer again to print the PCB onto the glossy side of the vinyl.

I guess you then transfer from the vinyl to copler by using an iron, heat press or laminator?

Yeah, I'm not seeing the rationale for the 2nd printing either.

CrossRoads: Yeah, I'm not seeing the rationale for the 2nd printing either.

I'm thinking that it's so you can just use a small section of vinyl the right size for what you want. With sticking it to the paper then you can put it back through the printer.

The alternative would be to put a full vinyl sheet tthrough the printer and then cut out a small section afterwards.

I'm guessing as much as you, but that's the only thing that seems logical to me at the moment.

The vinyl is not see thru tho, how do the layers stay aligned/registered?

There two ways to use the vinyl . First one you buy a $400.00 dollar cutter. http://www.instructables.com/id/Fast-and-Easy-PCB-Prototyping-with-Vinyl/

And the one tho OP is taking about the vinyl paper that keeps it from sicking you remove it print on it place the vinyl back on and iron it peel the vinyl place on copper and iron it on then just peel it off and etch. I been looking for the second way can't find the link. http://en.electroni-city.com/

Found a video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FtmJdCBjwXY

and supplies to get http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=oracal+651+vinyl+roll&_sacat=0&_odkw=oracal+651+vinyl&_osacat=0&_from=R40

Definitely looks promising. I'll have to try this one out. Just have to find this vinyl stuff locally.

Then how do you transfer it to the PCB? Hot iron? or just stick it?

Heat and pressure are required. I happen to have a heat press so I use it but an iron would work.

And the one tho OP is taking about the vinyl paper that keeps it from sicking you remove it print on it place the vinyl back on and iron it peel the vinyl place on copper and iron it on then just peel it off and etch. I been looking for the second way can't find the link. http://en.electroni-city.com/

Link is good. Thanks for that. No, the substrate that the manufacturer uses to carry the vinyl is not what is printed on. It's the vinyl that is printed on. Once it is printed it is placed onto the board, print side down, and the toner is then transferred to the board using pressure and heat.

I'm thinking that it's so you can just use a small section of vinyl the right size for what you want. With sticking it to the paper then you can put it back through the printer.

The alternative would be to put a full vinyl sheet tthrough the printer and then cut out a small section afterwards.

I'm guessing as much as you, but that's the only thing that seems logical to me at the moment.

Correct.

you print onto normal paper just so you can see what you need to cover with a vinyl 'patch'.

Then cut a piece of vinyl just big enough to cover the area to print, leaving the rest of the paper uncovered.

Then run it through the printer again to print the PCB onto the glossy side of the vinyl.

I guess you then transfer from the vinyl to copler by using an iron, heat press or laminator?

Also correct.

How well does it work for thin pitch? (0.5mm) The problem I have with my photo paper is that with fine picthes (less than 1mm) the photo paper gets transfered and stuck in between traces along with the toner. I end up having to scrape in between traces with a knife.

You will not have that problem with vinyl. Only the toner gets stuck to the board.

Thanks for the video link vasquo, that helps very much to make the process understood.

As for two sided boards, clear vinyl is available. Otherwise I was thinking that transferring to one side of the board and then using a couple of drilled via holes to index the other side would work.

  • Scotty

Indexing was my thought for 2 layer boards.

1) Set up your stand-off holes in each corner of your PCB design. 2) Do everything to get the top layer toner transferred onto the PCB or just stick the top sheet in place (heat resistant clear tape?). 3) Drill pilot holes through the board at te centre of each stand-off. Size to be for a 0.1" male header. 4) Print off the bottom layer. 5) Place bottom layer print onto a block of wood and drill the same 4 pilot holes though the paper/vinyl/laminate. 6) Place 4 off 1x1 headers through the PCB from top layer and turn the board upside down. 7) Place your bottom layer print over the 4 keys to line up perfectly via the centres of the stand-offs. 8) Stick the bottom layer in place (heat resistant clear tape?). 9) Heat transfer the toner onto the copper via heat press, iron or laminator. 10) Remove both sheets of paper/vinyl/laminate and the 4 off 1x1 headers used as keys. 11) Etch 12) Hopefully a perfectly aligned two layers.

I've not tried it yet but I think it should work?

I've ordered vinyl from the link I posted.

So far, all comments and reviews I've read on the web shows this process to be a "winner" and almost foolproof.

I'm going to try to getting back to home-etched PCBs for simple prototypes.

Sweet find man. Can you post some pics of the etched board? I've always been skeptical of the accuracy of home etching since it seems perfect masking is difficult to achieve. I'd love to see how well it turns out using your method.

I'm cheering for you over here. If this works well, I would really like to start doing prototypes at home. I keep packing things tighter and tighter though, so precision is important.

I didn't have any vinyl laying around, but I had CON-TACT brand "self adhesive decorative covering" so I tried that out, with low expectations. After shoving it through the printer (not a fun experience) I ironed it on max heat like I do with photo paper. The paper came off easily under warm water but some toner stayed on the paper (mostly on the edges, forgot to take a picture). The finish looked a bit rough and I was worried that I had microscopic holes all over, (like I'd heard about elsewhere) so I etched part of it. No microscopic holes as you can see. The distance between traces in the red circle is less than .2 mm, I had no problems with the paper sticking there.

DSC_0016.JPG|1134x1014

Cool. Thanks for that. How are you cutting your boards, btw? I have my own methods, but I always wonder what other people do.