Saturday, February 26, 2011

Instant failing @ the direct toner method

Today it was beautiful outside.
The first day in spring with blue sky and bright sunshine.
Today was a waste of time.
Today was a constant fail.

In the morning I was fully motivated to give it a try on etching some PCB's with the "direct toner method". I tried it so many times with my iron using different temperatures and techniques to bring the layout from the sheets of my "reichelt catalogue" to the coppered-PCB's. Even letting the PCB an hour in the water to soak the paper well, did not work. I expected that this method would not work on the first try - oh yes. So I printed many sheets with a HP-Laserprinter in advance - just to be on the save side...
It was a disaster.
Every time I reached step 3: Goto step 1. Groundhog Day.

But who's to blame?
- my cheapo electric iron from TCM?
- the laserprinter or it's bad ink?
- the author of this method who is using a modded laminator and laughing at people with an iron?
- globalisation?
- al-Qaida?
- ...or at least my two left hand's?

I have no idea and yes - I'm a "bit" frustrated :-/

I got two PCB's which looked acceptable and maybe just need little corrections, so I decided to continue. They looked like this:

But before starting etching, I tried to remove the rest of the paper with boiling water and soap. This worked fine using my rubber-gloves without removing the ink to much. Then I started with the etching:

...and the result after removing the ink with Acetone looked like this:

To sum up everything I come to the following conclusions:
If the ink could be brought to the PCB in a very clean way, the etching is no big problem. Etching only works, if _all_ the paper is removed (even from the strip lines!). So the main problem in the whole method is to iron the ink to the PCB. The advantage on this method is, that you can start all over again, if that doesn't work on the first(haha) attempt (each try doesn't cost you money - just a little Acetone and time). But if you have problems in constant results you would fail like me.
I invested a whole day without satisfied results.