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Etching at Home: Take 2 (FAIL!) | Kevin Rye.net - Main

Kevin Rye

Geek Extraordinaire. Yeh, I said it.

Etching at Home: Take 2 (FAIL!)

The other day I rushed an etching of my ATtiny Programming Shield just to try out the process. The results weren’t that great. In fact, they were’t even usable. However, I figured with a little more attention to detail and a little more time vested, I’d yield a board that was usable.

Since it was Saturday, I had all day to mess around with it. I took my time this time. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. The results were actually worse than when I rushed it.

I started by cleaning a small copper board that I cut from an old 12”x12” panel. I then printed out two PCBs onto white paper.

etch_at_home_fail_0002

I taped the printouts to the board.

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I covered it with a piece of papers so that the tape wouldn’t melt to my iron.

etch_at_home_fail_0004

I then ironed it for a few minutes so that the toner would remelt to the copper board.

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After a few minutes under the iron, I soaked the boards in hot water to remove the paper.

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Pretty stubborn stuff. The problem with my laser printer is that the toner is wax based. This gives your text and images a nice glossy sheen, but I think it’s bonding with the paper too well. It’s really hard, if not impossible, to separate the paper from the toner.

After 5 minutes in scalding hot water, the paper had barely started to come away. I rubbed some off with my fingers, but I didn’t wan’t to rub too hard fearing that I’d take the toner with it. I put it back in the hot water for another 5 minutes.

etch_at_home_fail_0009

After a little more rubbing it looked like I’d gotten it all off…

etch_at_home_fail_0010

But as soon as it dried, it was apparent that there was still a layer of paper on top of the toner.

etch_at_home_fail_0011

I kept at it until I got off whatever I could. I then dropped it into the etchant for 15 minutes.

etch_at_home_fail_0012

After about 15 minutes, it hadn’t done much. I added some more etchant to the mix and let it sit for another 20 minutes.

It looked like the toner was still on the board, but when I rubber it off it was clear that just like before, the etchant had eaten right through the toner.

etch_at_home_fail_0016

The fact that the mix was stronger and I left it in longer made things worse.

I guess that answers that question: the toner transfer method is a no-go.

Maybe I’ll try a pretreated board and a UV light?

See this project from start to finish:
Playing with the ATtiny85
Etching at Home - A Dry Run
Etching at Home: Take 2 (FAIL!)
ATtiny Programming Shield