Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Trying Direct Laser Print to PCB

I have been investigating Direct Laser Printing to PCB as an etch resist, see previous post.

So far I have not found better results than I obtain with Toner Transfer using Pulsar Transfer Paper, my goal is better-faster-cheaper laser etch resist.

For my tests, I have NOT modified the "HP LaserJet 1300" other than removing the "Fuser" and I have left it plugged in, setting behind the printer. I have been using very thin PCB material so that it will past through the printer with out modifying the paper path (by cutting out plastic).

Without the "Fuser" installed, the resulting prints are very fragile, and as expected the toner can be just dusted or wiped off.
  • Printing on paper provides the best very high resolution images,
  • Printing onto a Thin PCB Patch mounted on paper with tape - lacks resolution, normal test page solid letters are only outlined
  • Printing on a full sheet of a thin Aluminium Carrier (hardware store rain flashing) looks good, but holes are revealed under a Microscope.
  • Printing on a Teflon Patch provides very high resolution, similar to paper.
The image on Teflon can be transfer to PCB material via a laminater, but handling the fragile image is problematic, the toner tends to move (fly) around when the PCB material is placed in contact or near the image. I have tried pre-fixing the Teflon image in a toaster oven, which helps. But the need to prefix is as complex as using the standard Toner Transfer method - no gain in effort.

So back to the, . .  Drawing Board



  1. Not cheap... but have you considered one of those "strong" lasers? I saw one listed by Sears that they showed etching wood. Wouldn't that work by burning a pattern directly onto PCB copper? Perhaps even burning away the copper that you don't want?

  2. Steve,

    I have plans to build a CO2 laser someday and would like to work on a CNC machine that could be used to "zap" paint off of PCB material to expose copper for etch.

    Maybe someday!

    Thanks for the comment.

    Eldon - WA0UWH