Inkjet/Toner Hybrid PCB Printing

After a fair amount of trial and error I’ve got a reasonable method for printing a PCB with a silkscreen using a modified inkjet printer.  This isn’t a new idea but I haven’t really seen the inkjet/toner hybrid method detailed so I thought I’d share my experience and tips.  The great thing about the hybrid method is that it stands up to Cupric Chloride etchant which is helpful when you don’t have access to Ferric Chloride.

The videos are a bit long but I wanted to share some of the detail, I hope it’s helpful.

This method comes with 2 warnings (The later you should take seriously)

  1. Acid is dangerous
  2. Epson inkjet printers are dangerous (for your sanity)

Part 1

Part 2

Here are some shots of the printer modifications viewed from the rear of the printer.  It’s a bit of a pain to get a hacksaw blade in and cut the carriage but fortunately you only have to cut it in 2 places.

Left side cut

Left side spacer washer

Right side cut and spacer bracket.

And here’s a shot of the board just after etching..

…and of the silkscreen

Hopefully in the next few weeks you’ll be able to see the project for which this board is intended. No prizes for guessing what it’s going to be!

Links

Etching with Air Regenerated Acid Cupric Chloride -This is the etchant used in the video

Hacking A Printer To Directly Print PCB’s (CNCZone Forum) – I got most of my information from here before I got started

Cupric Chloride, direct to PCB printing, etch, inkjet hybrid, PCB, silkscreen, toner

30 Responses to Inkjet/Toner Hybrid PCB Printing

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  3. Tracy-franchise 500 July 31, 2012 at 4:40 am #

    Brilliant work you have there. I wish I could just be more knowledgeable on this area but not all I get. I will just have to show this to father and maybe he could explain everything for me. He knows this type of work. Thank you for sharing.

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  5. francesco March 16, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

    Hi, I seen a sublimation ink for Epson at 11€ for 100 ml, you could put inside the cartridge.
    It is compatible perfectly on most of epson inkjet and it is water resistant.
    http://www.coastalbusiness.com/continuousinksystemandbulkinkbottles.aspx

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/125ml-Genuine-ROTECH-Black-Dye-Sublimation-Ink-/380277311207?pt=UK_CamerasPhoto_Printing_PrinterInkCatridges_JN&hash=item588a4b46e7

    • RhysGoodwin March 17, 2011 at 12:14 am #

      Normally the pigment inks are best as long as the printer is suitable. Is the c890 dye or pigment? Pigment has more solids I think. MISPro inks have a good reputation for being etch resistant.

  6. francesco March 16, 2011 at 8:11 am #

    Hi, I have already hacked my epson 890, I noted your method about laser print toner.
    Have you try to dissolve the toner powder into water or ethanol? If yes I think you can try to put into the black cartridge the solution water-black laser toner.

    • RhysGoodwin March 16, 2011 at 9:04 am #

      Hi Francesco, I haven’t tried this. It might work but it might be hard to get mix of water to toner correct. I don’t think the toner will actually dissolve in the water, it will only be held in the water. I would not recommend using ethanol because it will evaporate while it is in the head nozzles and then the hard toner will be left and will clog the nozzles. In fact nozzle clogging will be the biggest issue in general. It couldn’t hurt to try it (except you may kill the printer!). Let me know if you try it.

      Thanks,
      Rhys

    • A. Genchev October 24, 2012 at 9:44 am #

      If you`re so brave to put ethanol in the head, why not create your own ink then.
      Here`s the idea: The Rosin/colophony dissolves very well in ethyl alchohol and is water resistant. So you need to filter the solution well – via filter paper, then print, then dry. And voila. After etching it doesn`t need cleaning, because it`s … your flux.

  7. moristo December 3, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

    Dear Rhys, thank you for your response and information about the ink that can be used, here I use the Epson stylus T11. As you say that it still must be roasted, in my opinion it is still troublesome, my desire after the process of printing directly to the etching, the process need not bake anymore. Well that’s where the new problems that I have found again. If you know what type of solvent-based ink that can be used on Epson T11, I hope the information
    moristo

    • Rhys December 5, 2010 at 10:03 am #

      I don’t think you can avoid roasting the board. The Epson printer uses either pigment ink or dye ink, not solvent-based inks. If the printer uses DURABrite (pigment ink) then you can print, roast, etch with Ferric Chloride. You can Also use another pigment ink for this process(MIS PRO) this maybe even better than the DURABrite.

      If your printer takes dye ink you must use the toner dust method because the dye ink is very weak even against Ferric Chloride. You cannot put a pigment ink in a dye printer. Hope this helps :)

      Cheers,
      Rhys

      • Name (required) January 9, 2011 at 1:03 am #

        I have tried using DURABrite ink and continue roasting and in the etching process, but results are not satisfactory, because path in PCB-porous, again I will try to ink MISPRO according to your suggestions, thank you

        moristo

        • RhysGoodwin January 9, 2011 at 9:58 am #

          Hi Moristo,
          What sort of etchant are you using?

          • moristo January 9, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

            i use ferro chlorida

          • moristo January 9, 2011 at 6:00 pm #


            moristo:

            i use ferro chlorida

            sorry i forget it,,happy new year to you and your fam,,,,,,please add my FB ,search using my email adress

          • RhysGoodwin January 11, 2011 at 9:32 am #

            Cheers Moristo. Happy new year to you and yours too. If the ferric is eating the ink maybe you don’t have the bake quite right. Maybe need to bake it longer or hotter or colder. Best to take a bunch of small test pieces and bake them for different times and then etch them to find out the correct bake time.

  8. moristo December 2, 2010 at 7:10 am #

    hi, I’m from Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, sorry if my english bad :-).
    I also have my own modifications to the printer, try to watch this -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJyoEcw7vlw (sorry the video is rather dark, because in my room lights off) it’s just that I was puzzled to find a suitable ink I wanted to ask what is a good ink used? , Which is not soluble in water, or what brand of oil-based ink that can be for epson T11?

    • Rhys December 2, 2010 at 8:43 am #

      Hi Palu, It looks like you have a great setup there! What part is causing you the most trouble? Which acid will you use to etch the board. If you use Ferric Chloride then you can use a printer which takes Epson DURABrite pigment ink then bake the ink on to the board. But if you use Cupric Chloride to etch then you will need to use toner dusted on top of the ink then melt it as I do above. In this case you can use any ink because the ink is only used to stick the toner on.

      Cheers,
      Rhys

      • Odomus December 5, 2010 at 2:47 am #

        Question:
        1) The Epson DURABrite pigment ink, Can one Siphon out the ink, and put it into a different manuf ink cartridge? Ie a HP…. or a Cannon? Etc…. If that ink can just be baked on and used FC…. then couldnt I just do that? Replace the ink in a diff cart with the DURAbright one?

        I can prob mod my Printer my self, but the ink is where Iam gonna run into problems…. Since All my inks are well…. cruddy? And dont do what I want them to do, even with the Toner Transfer(let alone getting the fine lines *sigh*).
        Never thought about it till jsut now to ask, never even attempted to try it either.
        You have any thoughts about this?

        • Rhys December 5, 2010 at 10:16 am #

          Hi,
          I’ve never tried it but word is that it won’t work because the Epson DURABrite printers use a Piezoelectric head but all the other brands use a Thermal head. The Pigment ink would not vaporize in the same way which the dyk ink dose so it would just immediately clog the head. Depending on where you are you should be able to pick up and old Epson DURABrite printer for the sole purpose of modding. I got mine off the local auction site for about $15. The toner method isn’t that bad. I’ve only done down to about 19mil but I’m sure with a bit of practice you could probably get down to 8-10mil.
          Cheers,
          Rhys

  9. sittichai November 26, 2010 at 6:32 pm #

    Very good. It is a good idea.
    I can made pcb by inkjet printer but not
    work . Becase track pcb is not stail.

  10. Odomus November 16, 2010 at 3:13 am #

    Rhys…. Have you ever tried Jameco.com? They have the Etching Solutions… I dont know if they ship outside the US… I think they do since they are everywhere else… the The Solutions are of decent size and such, I use them for personal PCB making. Maybe you can get it from them… I dont know.

    If you have any luck or there of… this would be the place to go.

    • Rhys November 17, 2010 at 9:51 am #

      Hey, Thanks for the tip I’ll check them out. I think it can be a bit tricky when it comes to shipping chemicals.
      Cheers,
      Rhys

      • Odomus November 29, 2010 at 5:40 am #

        No Problem, yeh I fig that, might take longer to get through customs, but I dont think you will have a problem. Especially on how inventive you are, they (Jameco) might have ideas as well.
        Obviouslt you are a Maker, and even then, Collin(Make Magazine), and Other people who do things over seas use them, so Jameco might be able to help you period in just information on how to go about and get the right stuff and through channels that you mgiht not be able to normally get through.

        I hope you do, and keep up the good work.

        (THOUGH I WANT THE PRINTER!)
        I should send you mine, just so you can MOD it to make it just like yours. though Diff Brand and such I would like to see if you can do it period. Doing the fine Lines for the tracks…. is getting to be a PITA lately especially for the SMD’s I have when they are connecting.
        AND
        The ‘silk screen’ I would love to do on the opp side as well… never thought to do that actually… smart idea.

  11. exploer November 15, 2010 at 10:31 pm #

    Excellent work!
    it looks link your idea is similar to this one:http://techref.massmind.org/techref/pcb/etch/directinkjetresist.htm
    but of course there are many differences.Thanks for you original work,which offer another way to DIY PCB.

  12. Chris November 15, 2010 at 4:47 pm #

    I don’t know what part of NZ u are from but you can get
    ferric chloride from DSE not sure if they still have it
    or
    Have you tried ammonium persulphate which is the alternative to ferric chloride?? Can get it from jaycar

    • Rhys November 15, 2010 at 11:45 pm #

      Hi Chris,

      I’m in Auckland, but it doesn’t look DSE stock it any more. I haven’t tried ammonium persulphate but word is that it too will destroy the ink resist. To be honest I could try a bit harder to find Ferric Chloride. But I do have a 20L drum of hydrogen peroxide that was left in the garage when we bought the house. I gotta do something with it!

      Thanks for visiting.

      Cheers,
      Rhys

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