Using Acetone To Create Print Transfers

Looking for an easy way to print transfer a logo or image? Don’t have time to get transfer paper? Did you know you can use… regular paper? Turns out there’s a pretty awesome method that just uses Acetone to transfer the ink!

Using a laser printer, print off your desired logo or image. Don’t forget to mirror it! Place the paper onto the material you would like to transfer the graphic to, face down. It works best on wood and cloth, but can also be done on metal, glass and even plastic! 

Tape the corners so it doesn’t move around on you, and then get out the Acetone. Wet a cloth with it, and gently rub the back of the paper over the logo. Continue doing this and letting the paper dry until the ink has fully transferred. Once you’re done you’ll have a permanent ink transfer on your new material!

We’ve shared toner transfer methods before, which can aid in PCB fabrication, but we don’t think we’ve ever seen this method before — certainly a handy tool though!

40 thoughts on “Using Acetone To Create Print Transfers

    1. Aye, there’s the rub. The good news is that if it DOES work, the toner will probably stick extremely well. The bad news is that you’d have to be very sparing with the acetone solution, or dilute it with ethyl alcohol as described in the Instructable mentioned above by Jens.

    2. I’m kind of warming up to this idea. I’m thinking that by limiting the exposure of the base object to acetone or acetone/ethanol, by using a spray bottle that can be set to make a fine mist, just might work. This should make for nice permanent markings on ABS prints or other ABS or PVC objects.

    1. Me and my wife have been doing this for a few years and its fairly durable, I wouldn’t take screwdriver to it or anything, but on surfaces like wood or paper its stays fairly well. less so on hard non porous surfaces, we did this onto dinner plates and after drying you could scratch it off with a finger nail.

      If you really want it to stay on and be extremely durable, you can always seal it with something.

      1. Is there a process that will allow me to transfer the lead from a pencil drawing onto a PCB? And will the lead resist the ferric chloride or cupric chloride etchant? ;)

      1. Yeah, that’s pretty much what we did. I couldn’t remember the solvent we used, I assume it’s basically the same action. B&W photocopies are not much different than laser print.

    1. My thoughts exactly. Never had a good result with heat toner transfer – I always got incomplete coverage, resulting in holes in the copper.

      I’m also thinking that the acetone/alcohol method in the Instructable linked by [Jens] would work for front panel markings, possibly even in colors, as long as the resulting panel is then clear lacquered. I’m not sure about colors – the layers would be in the opposite order from what they’re meant to be printed, so the colors may not be right. I’ve GOT to try this.

      One of the most useful articles in recent memory.

  1. I have used this method for quite a while to put “dealer stamps” in my car log book. I like to do the minor servicing myself but I still want a complete service history for when I sell the car. I use paint thinners. For best results I use very little solvent – too much and the transfer gets messy.

        1. Could still be considered a fraud if it’s not readily apparent that the service stamps aren’t real.

          The buyer is interested in seeing that the service has been done dutifully in a real establishment that has responsibility over the quality of the work and materials, and the fake stamps – whether they’re copies of real dealer stamps or not – give the impression that it is so. A buyer would not be willing to pay as much for the car if they knew the owner had done the services on the car himself.

          Anyone could write down that they’ve changed the oils and belts, plugs and filters at regular intervals even when they haven’t. A shop that puts a stamp on your papers should have some sort record or bank statement to show that the car indeed has been to the shop, so when it later turns out there is no such thing as “Jim’s Garage”…

          1. In the UK at least:

            “Creating a false service history for a car is covered by the Trade Descriptions Act 1986, which prohibits applying a false description to an item. The law views as more serious selling something to which a false history has been applied. Even if you didn’t create the ficticious paperwork yourself, but tried to sell it on to someone else, you would still be guilty. In a magistrates court, the punishment can be a fine of up to £5,000 per offence. But if it goes to a crown court, a judge could specify an unlimited fine or a prison sentence of up to two years. The law applies to individuals and traders”

          2. It is my own design with a fictitious business name, and it does have my phone number. So I would say not fraud as I am actually doing the service. An official looking stamp just looks much better than just my signature, date and odo reading. Now if I didn’t service the car and put an entry in the log book – that could be fraud.

  2. I have seen similar technique (using paint thinner) for making cheap and simple PCB silkscreen. Done it once. It was somewhat successful (I know guys who can do it much better), but I never had an idea that it could survive etching.

      1. Acetaldehyde which is also what normal booze is converted into by your liver. Which kills a few cells every time it happens which 200,000 drinks later may be cirhossis. And acetaldehyde is only one molecular mess above formaldahyde! Heck I might be able to do a transfer with my liver juice! 😂

  3. Well, I had high hopes as was trying to transfer laser image done at Staples. The minute the acetone was applied the ink went running all over the place. Why? It didn’t work at all. If anyone reads this post and can tell me why it didn’t work, I would appreciate it as so disappointed.

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