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Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by Roadrocker, Apr 28, 2013.

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  1. Roadrocker


    Apr 28, 2013
    What are the best etchants to use when etching?
    Would sulfuric acid work and if so how long would it take?

    The reason i am asking is because i am experimenting with making a automatic etcher thing made from and old printer and i wanted to know if it would work or not.

    by the way this is my first post so please give me hints on how to word one.:D
  2. quantumtangles


    Dec 19, 2012
    Making your own PCBs is a brilliant idea and more people should try it.

    Do not use sulfuric acid. It is dangerous and the fumes are also dangerous. It could also turn your copper plate into a crisp.

    Ferric Chloride is the most widely used etchant. There are lots of great Youtube videos on the subject. See also

    You can buy ferric chloride fairly easily on ebay, sometimes getting copper pcb boards alongside the etchant.

    Be careful to use rubber gloves and protective eye googles when using ferric chloride as an etchant.

    It is advisable to scrub your copper boards with a green synthetic (pot) scrubber to remove an oxidation layer (any scrubber that will not scratch the copper plate) and then use acetone to remove all grease from the copper plate before applying (face down...printed side down) your circuit printout (best to use a laser printer to print it out on thermal paper than can be ironed onto the copper plate before etching).

    So first scrub the copper plate to remove an oxidation layer, then apply acetone using gloves to remove all grease from handling it, and then apply with adhesive tape (to fix it in place)...print side in contact with the copper plate, your printed circuit.

    Many people use a hot iron to imprint the paper circuit printout onto the copper PCB before washing off the paper with water and a toothbrush...leaving the design behind ready for etching. Other people use adjusted laminator devices (adjusted to allow thick copper plates to pass through rollers intended for paper rather than copper plate).

    Then ferric chloride solution for a few minutes, using an old toothbrush but remember the protective gloves and protective eye googles as this stuff is dangerous as is acetone.

    Have plenty of water to hand to wash the board at the various stages and then consider using tinning solution which applies nice instant tinning to the copper PCB and can be reused (just pour it back into the tinning solution bottle after use) :D

    Be very careful with these chemicals as they are potentially dangerous. Note the precautions people take in the youtube videos.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2013
  3. Roadrocker


    Apr 28, 2013
    Thank you. Helped a lot but I still have one question

    What is the chemical called that is resistant to etchant?
  4. quantumtangles


    Dec 19, 2012
    You can use etch resist lacquer or even just an etch resist pen (a permanent marker) :D
  5. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    Jan 21, 2010
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