Modyfying inkjet to print with AgNO3 & ascorbic

Hi guys and girls

I was reading an article about printing circuits on paper/plastics with an inkjet printer. Silver nitrate oxidized to silver by c-vitamin…

So I was wondering, how do I fill the cartridges by my self?
or for that matter where to get an empty cartridges?
and what printers are best to do this?

I have acess to all chemicals so that’s not a problem (beeing chemistry student in a uni)

I am planning to print on SHRINKY DINKS plastic for inkjet printers :sunglasses: The plastic shrinks to 1/3 orignal size with baking for 3 mins, so by my theory I will get more solid lines of silver :slight_smile:
Perhaps I can do SMT, 'coz the plastic can take the baking heat.

THankx, please do give me input here.


In canada it’s common to have small shops in shopping areas that refill inkjet cartridges. If you can find one of them, go along with your bottle of solution and ask their advice.

There are also companies that make conversion kits for ink-jets to turn them into being able to do production work (mainly for color proofing); these kits have an empty print head with hoses leading to large reservoir bottles, which you fill with bulk ink (which is much, much cheaper than individual cartridges). It isn’t cheap to purchase, but one of these systems would be ideal if you managed to get something like that to work.

Cool, thnx, I will look into it


how do I fill the cartridges by my self?

It varies a lot from one cartridge model to another, even among models from the same manufacturer: I’ve refilled cartridges that had a form of “fill valve”, some that had a plug that needed to be removed and replaced, and even one that had to be drilled and resealed.

Getting all the old ink out so it doesn’t contaminate your silver mixture could be a major challenge. It never mattered for me, because I’ve always been filling with an ink that was at least close to what was already in the cartridge. Soaking the whole thing in a container of alcohol to dissolve ink that’s dried inside the tank might work.

I strongly doubt you’re going to be able to control the shrinkage of your Shrinky Dinks precisely enough to make SMT boards, though. You’ll probably have better luck printing multiple passes to lay down traces at full size.

A little looking around suggests that you can deposit copper using copper sulfate and ascorbic acid. LOTS cheaper, for the experimental phase…

Yeah, but might not be as conductive with copper… it is certanly worth a try, could even try electroplating the traces afterwards.

well, have to go to photo shop and check the prices of photochemicals (AgNo3 can be used on photographic paper) probably a lot cheaper than Fluka or SigmaAldrich lab chemicals.

Luckely my other printer is dry, so I can experiment with that cartridge.
Maybe I’ll talk to my Organics chemistry teacher to give me a sample of CuNO3 (He helped me to be allowed to do 120Hr, 12 step Valium synthesis as a extra credit project, really burning for chemistry he is :wink: )


have to go to photo shop and check the prices of photochemicals

Lots of AgNO3 on eBay…

I do not live i USA, but in Norway… Customs pricing do not justify the price of ordering chemicals from USA, local stores are probably cheaper.

  1. My mega was 2x the US store price when arrived to me with shipping + customs
  2. ditto for my Futurelec order
  3. Ditto for my DigiKey order
  4. Same for nunchuck + motionPlus order from UK.
  5. Orderd steppers from Keling Cnc, they came to be 2.5x price with shipping + customs (expensive shipping due to weight)
  6. My Pololu stepper breakout boards should have cost me 1/3 of the total order price but probably due to small size (envelope) the mailman mistakenly deliverd the Pololu order :wink: the envelope had stamp from the customs that it was not to bedelivered without paying customs to the amount of XXXXNOK

Well it costs to live in a DESERT electronic-wise so it’s pay-up or live witout. (it’s mostly prefab society here, the easy life)


Ps. I was thinking of pararell linking 2-3 pololu boads for each stepper to get more ampers out without running to hot
Please tell me that I am thinking straight here ?

Does it help to order from the EU?
Catalog carries some good stuff, and seems to resell some of the more interesting US surplus items… (Netherlands not quite being Norway, even if they start with the same letter, eh?)

No matter where I order from, customs is always the same, if a package is more than $35 worth it goes through customs, shipping is usually about the same from any sivilized part of the world.
If the package is not expensive enaugh, then it goes through “simplyfied” customs, one flat rate, so if the order is not valuable then I pay relativly much for processing.

SparkFun is the best place to order from, one can opt for reduced amount written on package, it has helped me before :wink:


BTW, I can confirm that copper sulfate and ascorbic acid DO NOT precipitate copper in a simple mixture :frowning:

Do you have a web page reference for the AgNO3 process? It sounds similar to the old processes for silvering mirrors, but those were relatively complex and had a bad habit of producing dangerous by-products (“fulminating silver”, oh my!)

here you go: