Tint your Epoxy Resin with Toner Powder

Epoxy resin is useful stuff. Whether for gluing stuff together or potting components, epoxy is a cheap and versatile polymer that finds its way into many hackish projects. But let’s face it – the stock color of most commercially available epoxies lacks a certain pizzazz. Luckily, [Rupert Hirst] at Tallman Labs shows us that epoxy is easily tinted with toner powder from a laser printer or copier.

Looking for a way to make his epoxy blend into a glue-up, [Rupert] also demonstrates that colored epoxy makes a professional looking potting compound. There’s just something about the silky, liquid look of a blob of cured black epoxy. [Rupert] harvested his toner powder from a depleted printer cartridge; only a smidgen is needed, so you should be able to recover plenty before recycling the cartridge. We’ve got to admit that seeing toner handled without gloves gives us the willies, though. And don’t forget that you can find cyan, magenta and yellow cartridges too if basic black isn’t your thing.

Sometimes it’s better to leave your epoxy somewhat clear, like when you’re potting an LED matrix for a pendant. But this neat trick might just spiff up your next project a bit.

[Thanks, Jake]

66 thoughts on “Tint your Epoxy Resin with Toner Powder

    1. Any maintenance of laser printers typically results in small amounts of toner on my hands. It washes off easily. Aslong as you don’t breath airborne toner or eat it, you should be fine.

    2. Because you’ll get it all over you I suppose.

      Handling toner without a mask suitable for very fine particulate matter probably isn’t a super idea, and if you are going to vacuum it then you need a cleaner which is suitable for it, lest it in the best case ruin your cleaner and spray toner through the filter into your room, and in the worst case go all explodey on you. If you get it on any fabric (not to mention carpet) it’s probably going to be there forever.

      Any time you work with toner, don’t do it near anything you care about.

    3. Toner is pigment and bonding agent, these can range from various plastics (those make perfect toner-transfer) to resins (those usually suck at toner transfer), even styrene (known carcinogen) based, so inhaling or ingesting it – no es bueno…

    4. I work on office equipment and have read the msds for most of the stuff i work with. Toner is non-carcinogenic and non-toxic. If i would be concerned it might be with getting iron poisoning from the developer. Toner cleans up easily so long as you don’t apply heat and use a vacuum with hepa filters.

      By the way it adds interesting flavors to your food. The magenta tastes like strawberries and the cyan tastes like blue raspberries.

      Just kidding don’t eat it.

        1. Figures Oki would make that! My first printer was an Okidata Okimate 10 Color Printer – and it was AWESOME! But really – there are white toner printers – but they usually are the commercial type IIRC.

  1. I’ve not tried toner before, but I’ve had good success tinting epoxy with a tiny amount of oil paint. I’ve only used it decoratively to give an enamel effect so I’m not sure how much it affects the strength, but it hardened up fine and polished to a high gloss.

  2. I’d rather use paint pigments. Using toner seems to me as really bad idea. A friend of my brother had bad luck with magenta tone, when he wanted to refill some cartridges. He vacuumed it, Great way to add magenta spots to your room.

    1. Same. Especially for cable applications, it seems like a better idea than epoxy, because the cooled glue is flexible and functions as a strain relief. Twenty black glue sticks are $1.50 at the Daiso (Japan/California discount store) or somewhat more expensive on Amazon.

  3. using epoxy as a potting compound sounds like a great way to make a working circuit defective. during the curing phase youd expect at least 1 of Shrinkage, expansion, intense heat. any of which could mean broken components or faulty solder joints

  4. You can use finely ground graphite powder (for example the one sold as a lock lubricant) to get nice black epoxy molds (shiny surface by default, matte when cut).
    I’ve also used graphite powder in PU glue to get nice shiny glue for black parts (raw glue has color of honey).

  5. Why use toner? Try InkJet colors!
    Same spectrum, not opaque, but they also come in a handy bottle instead of an enclosed cartridge that will poison your workspace. Try adding some chalk powder if you need it opaque.
    If you have an inkjet printer (non HP) with separate colors, you can just take an “empty” cartridge, blow in the top hole and ink will drip out on the bottom…
    Alternatively I have used EDDING refill-ink.

    1. Epson sells bottles of ink for their external ink tank inkjets, that is as cheap as knock-off refills for other brands. Still, paint pigments from art supplies stores or hardware stores might be better. Especially if you look for some funky colors…

      1. Yeah sure, pigments usually rock. Or are even made from rock ;-)
        But they are also expensive or sell in huge bulk.
        Lets just say mostly ANYTHING will be a more safe way to color epoxy than toner…

  6. This is an awesome idea. I repair copiers and printers for a living so have a ready supply of it. There the base cyan, magenta, yellow, and black toners and for some high end systems like Xerox Production machines such as the Color 1000 and IGen5 there are orange, blue, green, gold, silver, and white(and clear but not useful here.) Most toners you can get are powdered plastics like PVC for Sharp and polyester for Xerox, combined with a little bit of oil, powdered carbon, and colouring agents. Sometimes they have more than that. Xerox EA toner and most Kyocera toners might present you with a bit of a problem in the use in a potting agent as they contain small amounts of developer agent as well. Developer agent is iron filings. This can and will make the toner somewhat conductive. Not a good thing when potting tiny electric circuits.

    In my opinion, based on my knowledge of the contents of various toners, the best to use for this would be Sharp or Canon copier toner.

    ****On a side note, I find Xerox to be better for toner transfer as it has a lower melting point than almost all other toners.****

    1. Have you ever tried white toner to do silkscreen? I imagine it would work, but I’ve not seen an affordable source of it. It sounds like you have access to some and already do toner transfer for etch resist. It would definitely be HaD worthy of you gave it a go.

    2. The developer agent is iron-based but the particles are plastic coated — largely to reduce conductivity.

      Toner materials that are electrically conductive wouldn’t work very well in the laser printing process.

  7. ALSO, Toner is flammable,,,even explosive if you get it airborn. Do NOT pick it up with a vacuum cleaner, specially a shop vac!!!! Carefully sweep up as much as you can then use a wet paper towel to clean up the rest. If you get small amounts in a carpet or on your clothes you can use canned air to blow it out but note that this will get it into the air and it’s not good to breathe too much of it. Rinse clothes with cold water to get it out then spot treat with something to remove the oils and wash as soon as possible. This stuff is finer than talcum powder and will go right through the filters of most vacuum cleaners. We have special 12 stage filtered toner vacs for use with toner in the copier/printer business.

    It’s fun to put a quarter cup in a balloon then inflate and hold it over a campfire attached to the end of a LOONG stick. It goes kaboom with rather impressive results, specially if you shake hard just prior to getting it in proximity to the fire. I know of one guy who uses toner in the production of custom made fireworks(and yes he has a license to do this.)

  8. Cool idea! I’m not sure about that particular application though. Using actual pins and shells that are meant to go on the end of a wire instead of a PCB is probably both easier and cheaper in the long run. Epoxy Resin is expensive! And yes.. they do make those in male.

  9. Don’t waste your time with hot glue unless you are making dried flower decorations, or other flimsy arts and crafts stuff. Silicone makes great mold-able coverings on plugs and connectors. It has give and flex but adheres to the wire jacket. I repair headphone plugs by stripping all of the old plastic off, re solder wires and coat. Makes short right angle plug ends, instead of the 2 inch long with elephant trunk “strain relief” jobs that stick out of pockets and break the socket loose from inside.
    Nobody mentioned powered tempera colors. Watercolors.
    We often color epoxy with powered wood stains to match color on crack fills.

    1. Although I used hot glue to run some cables in the corners of my room and people only notice them when you tell them about it. We shall see how long that holds… :-D
      Yet easier and more discrete than those nails with little plastic-hooks on em…

  10. I did this in school (long ago) – my method was paint.
    Any paint was fine, though I typically used poster paint from the art dept.

    I never had conductivity issues, but you could always do it in stages if you require.

  11. If you want a pigmented, fine powder for adding to epoxy, I suspect that the powder used for powercoating would work pretty well. It is avaliable in many colors and basic colors can be bought off the shelf at horrible freight. Several mail order places offer much wider varieties of colors though. Yes, powder coating powders are really messy, but probably less than toner.

    1. Tried the powdercoat powder last night. Used flat black from horrible freight and 90 minute cure epoxy. Mixed about 1/4 teaspoon of powder into about a teaspoon of epoxy. It cured to a glossy smooth finish. Checked for electrical conductivity with a DMM and with the probes about 2mm apart on the cured blob, the meter still shows over-range on the 10megOhm scale. I don’t have a HiPot tester to do a more elaborate test, but at a first pass, it looks good

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