etching pcb at home (any suggestions)?

You should use the thin glossy magazine paper, along with copper plate rubbed with sand paper and washed with acetone or citric acid to remove any moisture on it then you should heat the copper plate for about some seconds say…50-60 and then put your print out down,Also use the LASER JET printer’s only or the photocopier print out’s only and note to keep the PCB STRAIGHT (or else the print inside would get on board and the sidelines will remain)

The photo paper I have at the moment is -

HP ‘Everyday photo paper’. It is semi-gloss (I think I called it semi-matt earlier) for inkjet. It is 170g/m2.

The gloss paper at the printers was also about 170g/m2. It reminded me of the stuff used on ‘up marked’ magazine covers.

There is a knack to using a household iron. I struggled bravely on with it for a couple of months. It is probably the most intensive part of the process. The iron needs to be moved around. But not by ‘skating’ pick it up and place it back down. Overlapping where it has just been. Apply plenty of pressure.

Make sure the edges of the PCB are de burred as if left in place it may stop the iron putting enough pressure near the edges leading to poor adhesion.

Pre heating the PCB first with the iron is also a good move. I do have a tutorial posted up at the projectdalek site (I’m a mod there shhhh) If you want I could post it in a new topic? It was written based on my first efforts.

My very first attempt, which was to build a prototype voice mod on, went perfectly, 100% even, using the TT on photo paper. Previously, and at much expense, I had fought with the ‘press n peel blue’. This was very hit and miss with regards to the PnP crinkling at the edges during transfer which smeared the traces or left gaps. This may be purely down to not having the knack but I was up and down the temperature scale trying to cure this issue without success.

Local printers are also more likely to let you use your photo paper in their machines as the PnP needs to be attached to a normal bit of paper to act as a carrier to ensure it passes through the printer without mishap. Also if your not using the whole sheet it’s pricey or just fiddly cutting out the piece you need to stick to the carrier. with photo paper you can be a bit wasteful for the price.

Obviously I have moved on with the conversion and use of a laminator but the basics are all the same.

To date I have made, in the 2 years since my first efforts, around 40 PCB’s and probably a few more than that. I have a page set up now, waiting to print, with about 8 PCB patterns on it. ;D



Wow! I had the exact opposite results with the HP everyday photo paper. It melted all over my circuit board and left a complete mess.

I had my iron on the hottest setting, and did pick up and move the iron as you say. I probably had a total of 2-3 minutes of time with the iron on the board.

I wonder why our results are so different?

There is a possibility that the toner had a different make up. This may account for it but don’t quote me =D . Using an iron I did on occasion have bad spreading of some tracks so there is a trade off on heat and pressure to resolve it I would think. It’s all down to practice in the end to get that ‘knack’.

I dread my laminator breaking…In fact I have a spare stashed away ready to modify and press into service ::slight_smile:

I should say that from time to time there are minor imperfections that I have to use a sharpie to fix. But usually only a minutes work at worst…so far. But I do expect to have a total screw up some time that will require a full clean down and restart at some point.



Hmm… Lets see what happens to me ! :wink:

I recommend a laminater as well.
I also use magazine paper stuck to normal paper with masking tape.
Also some laser toner is better than others.
I use a samsung laser printer.

Ive had very good results and also with double sided boards as long as Im very careful with alignment.
I tape the paper to the copper clad with masking tape then run it through the laminator at least 6 times.

Heres one of my better ones:


Samsung home printers seem to get referred to, in the hobby circles, as a very good make for doing TT prints .

I like your board BTW and in reference to your being able to ‘publish’ your PCB pattern I think your OK if it’s not for profit.

I use PCB Wizard for my board design. I have an official disk I bought from maplins which runs under WINE in Linux. I also have a ‘broken version’ which runs off my USB stick. This makes it easy for me to take the stick to the printers with the file to be printed as well. So the printer inserts the stick on his PC fires up PCB wizard and opens the file to be printed.

I have no printer at all so this is a great help to me. I have also drawn up some 22mm diameter PCB’s for LED arrays using ‘The Gimp’. This allowed me to rotate the LED’s to ‘non- standard’ attitudes. That is not just vertical and horizontal. I draw them up twice size then scale, convert to a PDF and off to the printers again.

If this link works you can see the words on the PCB to.

Some of the lettering is only 1.5mm high if that. I am fairly constantly surprised with how much closer I could make things…it’s just having the nerve to do it. Using the ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’ mode of thinking ;D



Right now I’m using “STAPLES” Photo Basic Gloss Paper with good results. …and I agree… A laminator is the way. I had variable results with an ironing method.

My Laminator is a ‘texet A4’. cost me £10 sterling. The modification was removing it’s thermostats and replacing them with the thermostat from the iron I was struggling with. I really need to get a thermometer as well as there is a fine line between working and the rollers starting to smoke slightly =D



I was using the HP everyday paper Glossy.

Don’t make the same mistake I did! The glossy HP paper will melt all over your board.

I found that HP “Presentation Paper 130g” (HP part Q2546A) works wonderfully well. Highly recommended, although it appears that this may be a discontinued product. At ~$15 for 300 8.5 x 11 inch sheets, it’s economical as well.

kinds to etch…

used laminator that used press n peel…

Used UV lamp used positive spray.


dunno if this link helps:

followed by

I used Xerox and HP lasers with glossy photo paper and a hot domestic iron
(not all at once - do keep up at the back there) ;D

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this in the past. I have basically used GOOTEE’s method for years now. It’s the only way I do it… including NOT using ferric chloride.

That’s one of the online tutorials I read when I was ‘investigating’ the TT method. True to say it was the most influential for me :slight_smile: Here’s to GOOTEE!



The trick is to go for semi-glossy photo paper and avoid those expensive glossy papers. Any iron would do and use adequate design clearance in PCB design.

Fenrisulfr, I have the same laminator(from asda, £7). What did the mod consist of?

Hi there.

Inside the laminator there are 2 sealed thermostats. These need removing. They are in series BTW.

The replacement thermostat is from an old clothes iron. It was fixed to the iron by a machine screw so was easy to remove.

I then used the same screw to fix the irons thermostat to the laminator. I gut a groove in the bolt up it’s length for a 1/4" so it would cut and clear it’s own thread in the aluminium channel. The bolt needed cutting slightly shorter so it would hod the thermostat securely.

There is also a thermal fuse strapped to the aluminium channel. Remove and join the wires together. The wires from the original thermostats connect to where the irons wires were on it’s thermostat.

Do ensure that there is no possibility of making the laminator aluminium extrusions MAINS LIVE!

The plastic case needed a hole cut in it as the thermostat is quite tall. I built a shroud round it to prevent any issues with touching mains live parts. The dial is fixed with silicon sealant.


A thermometer would be handy as well as the scale on the irons dial isn’t exactly accurate and it is easy to get the rollers smoking!

The largest PCB I have done with it was 5 x 4 inches. My unit is getting a little tired and the gears in the AC motor gearbox start slipping if the unit starts getting to warm. But it has done a lot of boards.



I’d like to repeat


If you do not absolutely know exactly what you’re doing, DO NOT RISK IT…

Absolutely. If in doubt just use the clothes iron as is. It is a knack and practice will pay off.



Yet another PCB making tutorial. But this includes a UV LED light box.