Toner Transfer

I know many of you have done toner transfer, and most of you probably used your own printer, but I was wondering if anyone knew how well it could be done with one’s local copy shop?

I noticed that Fedex Office (formerly Kinko’s) has a glossy paper option, which is what most people use for toner transfer. Does anyone know if this paper is any good for toner transfer? I would test it myself, but I can’t today, and I’m just dying to know (plus, having never tried toner transfer, I can’t compare it to anything else).

Thanks! :wink:

Kinkos will do it, least I have never had a issue, but they also offer heat transfer paper if you ask, and even some locations have a heat press

Really? Any idea how much the heat transfer paper costs? Looks like the glossy paper is only about 20 cents for a B/W sheet.

I also have another question: What kind of bit do you use to drill the holes in your boards? I’ve heard that fiberglass can eat up High Speed Steel (which is all that I have), and tungsten carbide bits are a little pricey…Will it really destroy the bit?

I dunno, its been a while since I did it, I remember it not being cheap for the whole tiny 10 second job

bits, I usually dont drill mine because of the cost of the proper bits, I did try it once with a speed controlled dremel and some of their tiny model bits, at low speeds it did ok, till the bit snapped in half

so I usually bend pins out into a L shape and just surface mount them, which with through hole stuff, takes more space, but whatever

This is just my opinion, others may have had more success.
I would think that if you pay a copy shop to produce the artwork for you, it will not be long before you have spent more on this than you would on a second hand laser printer.

The toner transfer process will take quite a few practice runs (and failures) before you discover how much heat & pressure to apply to achieve an acceptable result. I recently went through this while my workshop processing tanks were frozen solid and I had to work in the mildly heated outhouse with strict instructions to not spill anything or make a mess :slight_smile:

Actually, at 20 cents a piece, I’m better off with Kinko’s unless I make at least 250 pages worth of PCBs (and that’s not even including I’d have to supply my own paper!).

The cheapest laser printer with toner I’ve seen was 49 bucks. If I can find one at goodwill for <25, I’d probably buy it.

On the drills bits: PCB does dull HSS bits pretty darn fast Using a HSS will cause it to start getting dull by the time 10 or 20 holes have been drilled you will know the difference. and boy are those tiny bits hard to sharpen by hand :’(

I have been buying my carbide bits as resharpened and they do pretty good at a cost of about $1 each from - and shipping won’t eat you up either. I use an el cheapo drill press - $40 I think it was, and they sell for $50 to $70 now with a max speed of 3,000 rpm. I’m told you need at least 10K rpm, but 3K has worked ok for me todate. It is very easy to break a bit - especially those carbide bits really break easy - when trying to drill by hand. I have drilled several boards by hand using a dermel tool.

I was using the laser printer at work for my toner transfer, but finally broke down and spent the $75 shipped for a new P1006.

I have bent the pins on sockets many times for mounting like SMD also - not having to drill so many holes is one thing that helped me toward SMD stuff. I’ve been doing double sided boards for a while now. 90% of traces are on one side, with only a few that need to line up on other side - that helps because I don’t get “perfect” line ups during toner transfer. I think it might be easier to etch two single sided boards, then glue them together - I did that once a long time ago, and I “think” it worked ok.

Have fun.

Ken H>

I think it might be easier to etch two single sided boards, then glue them together - I did that once a long time ago, and I “think” it worked ok.

that is not a half bad idea, spread some epoxy, clamp and let sit

[edit]ps I am eyeballing a solid ribbon ink label printer at work, to direct print on small boards heh [/edit]

Ok, so I know now that a Steel bit could work in a rush, but I’m better off investing in a tungsten-carbide bit because the steel one will be dulled.

I also know I can buy them here for a relatively good price, but what I don’t know is what size to get, and whether or not these would work with my current equiptment. They seem to have some weird rings on the top end.

Any suggestions on what size? Someone said #66 once I think…can’t remember…

Tch - I sure can help you with that. I spent a good bit of time figuring that out myself.

Well, what “current equipment” do you have?

Those carbide bits you linked to are the same as what I order from the guy. Call and talk to him - very knowledgeable and helpful.

The bits are all 1/8" shaft with the ring you see just being a holder with the size marked on it. That makes it easy to tell the size. Note how the cutting part is a LOT smaller than the shank? These will chuck up in anything that will hold an 1/8" drill bit.

I like a mix of them - small bits for drilling vias that only need a small wire past thru and for leaded stuff like resistors and what not.

A small 1/8 watt resistor, cap etc will have lead size around .020" so a #73/74 bit would be just right.

A 1N4007 diode has a .030" lead. I use a #68 most - it works good for DIP sockets as well as the large lead items… and will work for the 1N4001 thru 7 series diodes.

“IF” you have a pretty good selection of HSS bits, those can be pressed into service for just one or two large diameter holes… 1/16" or 1/8" that sometimes you might need for mounting, etc.

I use the #68 most - and have a few #65 but found I didn’t use them much. I’m getting ready to place another order and I guess I’ll wind up with #74 and #68 as the two I will order the 10 pack of. I also need a few #58 (.042") and #52 (.063") for rivets. Most likely I’ll just order a 5 pack of those because they don’t break as bad as those really tiny bits.

Be sure to have the PCB very flat on the press so it doesn’t rock or move - those .031" bits break at nothing.

Have fun,
Ken H>

Ok… going a bit away… Can you print on T-Shirts using Toner Transfer? Has anyone tried this?

There are color transfers you can iron on Tee shirts - I’m not sure you can print directly to Tee.

Ken H>

I have seen somewhere that someone did toner transfer to a shirt, have no clue how durable it is tho

The carbide bits are really the best choice… you can get refurbished bits at a reasonable price from online vendors, like MPJA or Alltronics, BGmicro.

The thing is… this bits are fragile. You really need to use some sort of drill press and Dremel does a Drill Press Addon for standard Dremels. I use a standard drill press for mine…

In my case, I already had a Laser Printer, the right kind of paper, the drill press and the drills… so this works and is affordable for me. If you don’t have these things already… then a board house really is the best choice.

As for transfer to cloth… there are special fabrics for Inkjet transfer. For toner transfer to cloth, you need some extra help.

Wintergreen oil (or synthetic is OK) has been used to release the toner from the print to the cloth in a NON-heat method. Use a paper towel to apply the oil till the fabric is wet. Don’t move the design while doing the rubbing but the toner till transfer. Let dry and iron the transferred cloth with the image using a paper towel between iron and image.

This is a method my wife uses… untested by me.

pwillard, what paper are you using? I’ve just today used a new paper, it’s Genuine Parchment paper,Oven safe to 420 deg F, 30 Sq FT 24ft x 15 inches @ Cost $2.45 USD. That stuff works good!

I just did a 2X3" board with traces and full ground planes. Ran thru twice at 300F and the paper just slides off with NO trace of toner left on paper, nor any paper on PCB. The traces look good and dark - the ground plane does have some thin spots, but since there is no toner left on the paper I have to lay that blame to the HP P1006 printer as it was starting to show those light spots on Pulsar and HP Presentation paper. I have 500 pages on a starter toner so that might be the problem… low toner?

One thing that just occurs to me - double sided boards. The parchment paper is so thin and slick it might be hard to hold in place while lining up both sides.

I think it’s still best to setup for my own PCB stuff - the laminator is only $25 delivered, the laser printer is a replacement for inkjet. To me, the BIG thing is I can do prototyping with PCB which requires me to etch up a board, then as I build it find how it needs changed, and make another board - and I can have a board in less than 30 minutes after finishing the layout in a program.

After buying the $25 laminator and with the laser printer, the cost of a PCB is only a couple of bucks for PCB, etching chemicals, bits, etc. the PCB can be anything from a 2X2" board to a 4X6" board (my largest todate).

Ken H>

low toner?

take it out and shake it, and I have parchment paper, Might give it a shot

Yep, shake it is right - that I will do before I print the next one.

Be sure to post your results after trying the parchment paper - someone on another board posted saying his efforts gave a good looking transfer to the copper, but had problems with etch in large areas like ground planes. Didn’t say what type of problems, just “problems”.

If the toner is transferring from the paper to copper, I don’t see how etching would make any difference. I’m looking forward to hearing how your etch turns out. I may try to etch a sample board today - just to see.

I’ve never seen a paper do as good a job on toner transfer as does the parchment paper.

Ken H>

Update on previous post: Parchment paper does NOT give good coverage on large areas like ground planes. I did a couple more boards this morning and the ground planes still did not have good coverage. As a control I used a piece of Pulsar paper with the same layout, same printer settings, same laminator temperature setting, even cut both PCB from same sheet to be sure everything was as close to same as possible.

The Pulsar paper gave GOOD solid black ground planes where the parchment paper ground planes were spottie with too much copper showing thru. No point in etching, I can tell it would not “look” good. It would still work and make a very usable board.

Maybe the parchment paper would be to do a component transfer over the etched board for have a component layout?

Osgeld and others - please post your results.

Ken H>

Bringing this topic back up. I’m getting ready to buy some #68 bits from this guy:

KenH, I think you said you’d purchased from them, did you have any troubles? I’m just trying to get a feel for how reliable they are before I pay them. Was the shipping quick? Well packaged? Thanks!

I have ordered from them 2 or 3 times. The first time I talked to the guy on phone, changed order a couple of times due to learned new things. A couple of weeks ago I just placed the order on line, paid with credit card, and 3 days later the package was delivered.

The bits are well packed in a very good storage case -

While there is no way for me to know what your experience will be - I would have no problem ordering from them again…

Let us know how it works for you. What sizes are you planning on?

Ken H>