December 8, 2013 at 12:19 pm #1028
I mentioned a few months ago that I was working on converting my Epson printer to print directly onto copper clad boards for acid resist etching.
I have copied the relevant holes from the CD tray onto a metal tray. On my model, the end of tray hole is not used, which allows for the metal tray to support a PCB board as long as an A4 sheet. (If I get some mates to hack the driver, this could be increased. However, I never see myself printing a board larger than A4.
I decided to use a thick tray to minimise warping, so I am using half thickness copper boards at this stage (~0.8mm, 0.032″). The should also be easier to cut and drill.
I’m still unsure as to which settings allow me to print to the CD tray slot on the printer as an A4 sheet. It appears that some programs have a higher interaction with the printer driver.
The next set of prints. The lower right was first, showing some blurriness and also smudging from the cartridge. The upper left was printed next after increasing printer accuracy/quality and also enabling “thick paper” mode which is stated to fix smudging issues (with no black streak on the board, it seemed to do what is says).
Next on the list of things to do is to make my own test design in eagle, as the shown design tests undercut, but doesn’t test crossover? (whatever the opposite problem of undercut is).December 9, 2013 at 12:42 am #1030
That is looking very promising.
I have spent the last week and a bit messing around with exposure boxes, developing tanks, chemicals and plenty of latex gloves.
I may hold of on investing in a proper exposure box if this technique ends up working for smaller pitched components. If you want designs to test I have plenty 😀December 9, 2013 at 9:36 am #1031
This looks interesting and a must to my collection!! keep the updates coming 🙂December 15, 2013 at 7:18 am #1080
So a frustrating day but I got there eventually. Eagle does give the option to choose a different media source, so I can’t print to the CD tray. GIMP gives me the option to change the media source, but it doesn’t actually do anything, it just reverts back to the default source. MS Paint lets me do these things, except it refused to open the high resolution files I saved in GIMP. Eagle can export to DXF, exept my AutoCAD-clone program wants to print to the bottom left of the page, not the top left… which is the most functional thing I’ve come across, so I modified the print area to create the required offsets.
The 4 corners of the board are pressed down with double sided tape. As I originally thought, the feeder isn’t designed to handle step changes very well, so a bit of tape on the leading edge helps to make a ramp. It’s not fool-proof and sometimes needs a bit of a hand to go in (only twice per cycle, and it doesn’t grossly affect the alignment AFAIK.)
The final board, trimmed, baked and cooling on the sink. I’m concerned that either there wasn’t enough ink used, or that it was baked for a tad too long as there seems to be blotches on the large traces. I’m picking up my etching solution later on, so I’ll just have to wait patiently until then.
The black ink still hasn’t set on the printer tray, so I didn’t think it was worth trying it on the circuit board. I can still smudge it hours later. (The blue and red lines are fine.)December 24, 2013 at 2:27 am #1095
Just sitting around having a soak…
We have LIFT-OFF!!!
Full power lift-off…
So not much happens with a cold batch of Edinburgh Etch. The good news is that the print didn’t dissolve, it just lifted off after a time. The first trace came off about 20 mins, the last picture was after an hour or so. One would hope that a faster etching solution would etch before lift-off.December 24, 2013 at 4:38 am #1096
You really need to run Ferric/Copper Chloride and Ammonium Persulphate baths hot (I used to boil the AP).
Nitric acid etches well cold, but is hard to get at usable concentrations.
PKDecember 24, 2013 at 7:08 am #1098
Yeah, I didn’t have my etching tank setup on hand… forgot to heat it up beforehand, and wasn’t convinced that it was safe to put a copper board submerged in acid in the microwave.December 24, 2013 at 7:12 am #1099
I wouldn’t do it with the Chloride etchants, they stain badly. But I used to heat the persulphates in the microwave with the PCB in the tank. The water absorbs all the energy.
PKJanuary 19, 2014 at 12:08 am #1140
Success! I dragged out and modded my old etching tank, with the heater and bubbler it works much better. 🙂
Red doesn’t seem to work so well at the moment, it prints a series of fine lines. Perhaps it’s a blocked jet. Blue forms a nice consistent layer and turned out well. I don’t remember how the green worked out, but the circuit is working, so it can’t have been that bad.
Perhaps NSFW, as soon as I mentioned that my mate could have any artwork on it, that is what he requested.
Poor image quality, my phone was closer than my camera.
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