Here’s a step-by-step guide for printing etch resist directly to copper clad boards. Two methods of making printed circuit boards at home have long dominated as the favorites; using photo-resist, and the toner-transfer method. The latter involves printing board artwork on a laser printer and then ironing it onto the copper clad. We’ve seen some efforts to print toner directly to the copper, or to use ink to adhere toner and then heat fuse it, but this hack is the first one we remember seeing that uses an inkjet printer directly.
The best reason inkjet printing isn’t often used is do to the ink’s iability to protect copper from the etchant. This method uses MISPRO ink that is pigment based and will resist the acid. An Epson Stylus Photo R260 printer was chosen because you can get refillable printer cartridges which work with the ink, and they’re fairly easy to modify. In order to feed substrate through the device it needs some physical alteration to make room for the thickness of the material, and an ATtiny13 has been added to trick one of the sensors.
Unfortunately we didn’t find photos of the printed resist. But there is source code available for the tiny13 if you do give this a try.
What if there were only two steps for making your own printed circuit board; print, etch? That’s what [Jeff Gough] has been working on and he presented the process in his talk at 27C3. In the first portion of the video after the break [Jeff] talks about various industrial PCB manufacturing processes in a depth you may not have heard before. We found it to be interesting but at about thirty minutes into the clip he begins the presentation of his modified printer. It’s an inkjet that can print wax onto copper clad board. The wax acts as a resist for chemical etchants, and provides very high resolution. He’s using a heavily modified print head, which brings to mind that diy piezo inkjet head which also has wax printing in its future plans. This certainly seems promising and if the process can be simplified it might do away with the toner transfer method.
Continue reading “Printable wax as PCB etch resist”
This is an inkjet print head made using a RepRap. The manufacturing process is both simple and ingenious. It uses a vibrating piezo buzzer to pump printing liquid through a tiny nozzle. The red disc seen above is exactly the same diameter as the piezo that resides behind it. There is a hole offset from the center to feed ink in between the two discs. Take a look at the test footage after the break.
To make the nozzle a hole was cut in the plastic disc, then a pin inserted and the whole thing was covered with hot glue. The next step was to remove the pin and shave down the glue until the narrow aperture is open. [Adrian Bowyer] is still in the testing phase for this assembly, but once he gets the bugs worked out he plans to test it with a heating element so that it can print using wax and other materials that are liquid when hot.
[Vik] tipped us off about this one after seeing the printable transistors from the other day.
Continue reading “Inkjet print head made with a 3D printer”
[Rhys Goodwin] has been working on a system to print resist onto copper clad using an inkjet printer. This is a toner transfer alternative as it still uses toner, just not quite as you’d expect. The first step is to modify an inkjet printer, separating the carriage from the feed rollers in order to increase the clearance for the substrate. Instead of printing with etch resistant ink, as we’ve seen before, [Rhys] prints with black ink and then covers the board (ink still wet) in laser toner. Once there’s good adhesion he blows off the excess and bakes the board in a sandwich press, with spacers to keep the iron from touching the surface of the copper clad. This cooks the resist into a hard plastic layer and the board is ready for the acid. Watch him walk you through the process after the break.
[Rhys] uses the same method for silk screen, printing in red and baking the ink onto the substrate without added toner. This produces a nice looking board but it’s still quite a bit of work. It certainly sheds more light on the process than that laser-printer method from back in May. We hope you’ve been inspired by this and come up with the next innovation that makes this process easier.
Continue reading “Direct to PCB inkjet printing”
Inkjet printheads are a pretty rare thing to see done in home workshops. We would love to see more and got really excited when we saw this single nozzle, drop on demand, head being built. using a piezo disk intended to be a cheap buzzer and some reprap magic, [Johnrpm] got some results. [Madscifi] has been refining the design of the nozzle and the two have shared the process with us. Since it drops a single droplet of liquid, it can be used in a variety of manners, such as dropping plain old boring ink, or dropping a solvent into a powder for some 3d printing. You can see an example of the 3d printing in sugar above.
Creepy or not?
Do you find these faces creepy or cute? They can display a huge range of facial gestures and the German engineers who designed them were trying to avoid the uncanny valley. That’s the point at which human features on a robot seem quite real, but are off in just the right way as to cause revulsion. [Thanks Simon]
Water in your ink cartridge
Like all great hackers [Dean] digs through his neighbors’ trash. He found an inkjet printer but wanted to test it out before buying new cartridges. The old ones were dried up but he revitalized them with an injection of filtered water. It might get you through that quick printing project without a trip to Walgreen’s.
Laser-cut LP record
[Niklas Roy] demonstrates a laser-cut LP record. He’s using acrylic as a medium, kind of like a big CD with grooves in it. He’s got several tracks that are simple loops instead of the longer spirals you may be familiar with. They definitely sound different but it’s up to you to decide if that’s by design, or a fluke.
Star Wars cinema
Ever wonder what to do with those classic toys you’ve got sitting around? Here’s a little video that envisions your life with an AT-AT as the house pet. [Thanks Gabe via Wired]
Full Spectrum Engineering has offered up a tutorial for their inkjet direct PCB kits that repurpose direct-to-CD capable inkjet printers (such as the Epson R280) to print etch-resistant ink straight onto copper clad board. This is easier and less error prone than some iron-on methods, especially for two-sided boards. Just print (no need to reverse the design), dry on a hot plate or in a toaster oven for a couple minutes, and your board’s ready for etching!
Homebrew methods exist for all of this, but for those who would rather move ahead with their design than spend time scrounging for the required bits, the kits
offer a pretty good value. They can also meet you halfway…say if you’re only lacking access to a laser cutter and just want the CD stencil…all of the parts are available individually or as a complete set: the resist ink cartridge, the stainless steel board-holding stencil, and a supply of double-sided copper clad boards precisely sized for the stencil (3.5 by 2.5 inches). The small board size is well within the limits of the freeware Eagle Light Edition
Concerned about gunking up your nice inkjet with non-OEM ink? You can dedicate hardware to the job without breaking the bank. Many of the compatible printers are of the “free printer after rebate” bundle variety that can now be found inexpensively on Craigslist or eBay.