Home Forum Show it off! Inkjet PCB Printing

This topic contains 8 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Fish_in_a_barrel 5 years, 6 months ago.

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    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.

    The test board on the custom tray. Wrapped in so that I can sort printing issues such as smudging and alignment.

    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.

    My first print on the board. It seems I still have to work out exactly where the board aligns to.

    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).



    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 ๐Ÿ˜€



    This looks interesting and a must to my collection!! keep the updates coming ๐Ÿ™‚


    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.

    I’ve decorated the tray with a printed grid of multicolour to aid in determining where the copper board sits and the offsets to be used.

    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.)


    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.


    Paul Kelly

    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.


    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.


    Paul Kelly

    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.


    Success! I dragged out and modded my old etching tank, with the heater and bubbler it works much better. ๐Ÿ™‚

    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.

    Print and then bake. You can see the copper is ready when it cooks to a nice golden brown ๐Ÿ˜‰

    All etched, ready for drilling.

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