The toner transfer method of PCB production should be a staple in every maker’s bag of tricks. That being said, it’s a far from ideal solution with a lot of things that can go wrong, ruining hours of work. [Ryan] thinks he has a better solution up his sleeve, still using heat activated toner, but replacing the laser printer with a powder coating gun and a laser engraver.
[Ryan] is using a powder coating gun he picked up from Amazon for about $100. The theory behind it is simple: particles of toner coming out of the gun are statically charged, and bonded to the grounded copper clad board. In real powder coat shops, this coating is baked, resulting in a perfectly hard, mirror-like finish. [Ryan] skipped the baking step and instead through the powder coated board into a laser engraver where the PCB design is melted onto the copper. After that, wash the board off, etch it, and Bob’s your uncle.
What’s really interesting about this method of PCB production is that it doesn’t require a very high power laser. [Ryan] was actually having a problem with the toner burning with his laser engraver, so it might be possible to fab PCBs with a high power handheld laser, or even a Blu Ray laser diode.