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PCB photo etch using inkjet?

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by Abstract Dissonance, Feb 16, 2006.

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  1. I just opened up a kit I have for photoetching and it says that inkjet will
    not work ;/ I thought I read that you can use inkjets for making the
    transparencies? I don't see the problem unless somehow the ink reacts with
    the UV light or that the UV light can penetrate through the ink? Any ideas
    about this?

  2. JazzMan

    JazzMan Guest

    If you're talking about the photographic process where a
    sensitized board is exposed to light with the artwork on
    a transparancy, then the inkjets typically don't get dark
    enough for fine line work. Laser toner is much more opaque
    than any of the inkjet inks I've seen so far.

    Please reply to jsavage"at"
    Curse those darned bulk e-mailers!
    "Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of
    supply and demand. It is the privilege of human beings to
    live under the laws of justice and mercy." - Wendell Berry
  3. Tom Biasi

    Tom Biasi Guest

    Also there are methods that rely on the fusing of the toner to the board.
    Ex. PNP Blue.
  4. Steve Butler

    Steve Butler Guest

    ink doesnt dry quick enough consequently it runs or smudges edges
    I have done a board or two printing artwork to plain paper and
    exposing for a minute or so in sunlight , worked well but now
    use Laser printer and transparencies for development

  5. steamer

    steamer Guest

    --IIRC the trick is to take the inkjet rendering and photocopy it
    onto that special paper that can then be ironed onto a copper substrate to
    make the mask.
  6. Yeah, but I'm was going to use UV since I didn't have a laser printer. I
    didn't see any mention of not being able to use UV with inkjets ;/ Else why
    use UV? (spend !70$ on the UV exposure device and transparencies and
    stuff... kinda a waste if I have to use a laser printer anyways.)
  7. Do you mean the UV wil expose through a plain sheet of paper?

    if that was the case you could always run it through the printer a couple of
    times(although it might mess up very fine traces).
  8. DJ Delorie

    DJ Delorie Guest

    I read once that the trick to using inkjets with photoexpose is to
    print in green (using cyan and yellow inks), not the black ink,
    because those colors blocked UV the best. Print some color bars and
    do a test board to see which of your inks (or combinations of inks)
    block the most UV.
  9. I tried printing the traces on a transparency with my inkjet and it turned
    out almost perfect. There were no smudges or anything and it looks pretty
    dark(it has a green hue to it though and I'm not sure if my printer is using
    the black ink completely or not.) I'd say its 99% perfect as far as the
    traces are concerned. There is a little "streak" about 1 mm long through one
    of the traces but that is easily fixed. I will go ahead and try it and see
    what happens. Hopefully the ink is thick enough to block the UV light. I
    might post my results if they are decent.

  10. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    The ink washes off.

    However, you _can_ use an inkjet if you copy it on an ordinary xerographic
    copier, since the toner is plastic; inkjet ink is just ink. (you _do_ have
    to heat-set it, however.) Laser toner will also work, i.e., if you print
    the pattern on a laser printer - they use the same plastic toner as

    Good Luck!
  11. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    OK, wait a minute - we're talking apples and oranges here.

    If you have a board that comes precoated with photosensitive resist, then
    anything that will expose a pattern will work, albeit if I was going to
    use an inkjet I'd get coated transparencies to print on, and print
    reversed; if I really wanted tight precision and only had an inkjet,
    I'd print it 2X or 4X, physically cut and paste the paper pattern, and
    take it to a photo shop.

    If the PCB is just plain copper, then you'd use the laser printer toner
    or copying machine toner as the actual resist. Inkjet will _not_ work
    for this, because the ink is just ink; there's nothing to transfer.
    With laser or copier, you just take the sheet out, verify the dimensions,
    and lay it face-down on the copper and iron it on. You also have to print
    reversed when doing this.

    Hope This Helps!
  12. So far so good. I was able to get the layout on perfectly. I could not place
    a "weight" on the transparency since the ink would not try. I have to cut
    the board to size and etch it. I was able to get about .008 trace width.
    Don't know for sure since I didn't use any traces smaller than 0.040 but
    my - sign's have a smaller than 0.01in so I guess its about 0.008.

    So I guess everything is ok now. The etching should be routine(well gotta
    figure out the proper time). The next hurdle will be the drilling.

  13. The etching went almost perfect as far as the traces are concerned. It was
    a little messy and the process wasn't perfect as far as efficiency and ease
    of use but it was cause the way I did the tank and the stuff I used. One
    thing I didn't expect was for the etchant to screw with the airator I used.
    It was one of those stone string things that let the bubbles through. The
    etchant ate through some of the stone for some reason ;/

    The board itself is ok though. One of my G's(for ground) got ate through a
    little but everything else is ok.

    Next thing is the drilling ;/ I figure this will be the toughest but if it
    goes like the others then it should be a piece of cake.

    One thing I should mention though is that using the inkjet transparency
    method lets use reuse the transparencies pretty easy. You just was off the
    ink(I used the developer and it came right off. I'm not sure if it would
    work with the toner though.)

  14. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    Yeah, tell us how well it comes out after washing off the coating. ;-P

    FYI, the transparency film I've ink-jet printed on came with a special
    coating that retains the ink like paper does - bare mylar or acetate
    will just smear. But, I don't know if it unconditionally destroys the
    coating to erase or wash off the ink - try it and let us know, OK?

    Good Luck!
  15. I just got finished drilling the holes. It seems like it will work. While I
    didn't do the best job drilling the holes I think its good enough. The main
    problem was the bits I were using just were either to big or to small. They
    were not standard drill bits but the ones that came with the dremel.

    Heres a photo of it:

    The large thick lines are 0.06in and the smaller ones are 0.04. Being my
    first pcb I'm supprised it went so well. Was expecting much more trouble.
    Most of the real trouble was seting up the etching and such as my home made
    tank was a little to big and the fact that it ate through my stone bubbler
    thing. Cleanup was a little trouble too. But it was definately not as much
    trouble as I thought it would be. I mean, for one 2.5x2.5 board it is but
    making several at once would be quite efficient except for the drilling.
    Hopefully my traces are right so I my circuit will work ;)

    Going to try and tin it now then add the components.

  16. Rich Webb

    Rich Webb Guest

    Looks quite nice!
  17. I think so too ;) That is for being my first time. I learned a few things
    along the way and I still came out of it with a usable PCB ;) Not sure why I
    was so anxious about doing it.

    One thing I did learn is that you should remove the resist before you drill
    holes. Else it seems to make it awful difficult to tin.

  18. Bob Masta

    Bob Masta Guest

    A home tanning lamp makes a good cheap UV source.
    You may be able to find one at an estate sale of
    a skin cancer victim. <g>

    Bob Masta

    D A Q A R T A
    Data AcQuisition And Real-Time Analysis
    Home of DaqGen, the FREEWARE signal generator
  19. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    And get a smaller drill bit or two. ;-) Although, there are folks who
    recommend a dental bur. (burr?)

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