8 Replies Latest reply on Sep 27, 2015 5:01 PM by jocm

    At home low volume PCB printing

    Cabe Atwell

      For years I've been looking for a way to make some simple PCBs at home. Getting boards fabricated just for a single layer was a waste of money for me. And most at home PCB etching was extensive, used a lot of chemicals, or I needed a CNC router. And now, I found a way to do it using a desktop printer, laminator, and a bucket. I plan on trying the below tutorial and print my own single layer PCB for a surface mount 10F222 based project I have been tinkering with lately. The tutorial seems straight forward, and apparently it takes about 1 hour to complete. Sounds better than waiting for a fab house to make some PCBs.


      Can anyone suggest a simple PCB layout tool? I was considering ExpressPCB. But I'm open to other options. I want the simplest program, thoughts?







        • Re: At home low volume PCB printing

          Hi Cabe,


          I use Cadstar by Zuken. It not a voluntary choice (my company uses it) but it is easy to use. The Eagle cadware is free, that might also be interesting.


          Best regards,


          Enrico Migchels

          • Re: At home low volume PCB printing



            I didn't look at the tutorial but I use the same technique with pretty good results. Be careful, some toners work better than others. I had a Brothers laser printer at home and it didn't really work. Take a look at http://www.pulsarprofx.com/ for toner transfer paper and other useful products. Probably not the cheapest you can find, but it works.


            You might need to experiment a bit, but once you find a good recipe, you get consistent results. Have fun!



            • Re: At home low volume PCB printing
              How about a modified Epson printer using yellow mispro ink? I'm working on modifying mine but it is a newer model MFD so it is taking be a while to get the board reliably and accurately aligned.
              • Re: At home low volume PCB printing

                Maybe everything is already said on this topic, but here are some extra's.


                I have never tried the toner on copper clad board approach, i use my laserprinter to print the artwork on transparant sheet (overhead project sheet). I always print 2 and put them on top of each other with scotch tape (2 layers of toner is blocking the UV-light more). I have an UV-unit (self build) and some chemicals (Natronlog). If use use the natronloog heat it to let's say 30C and use a brush to fasten the development process (most important!).


                But i come back to the toner on PCB appoach. I was always looking for a way to make service printing (it helps for assambly and looks more professional). The toner on glossypaper is most usefull to make the top layer silk screen (service printing). Most CAD tools have the 'mirror text' option, you have have to carefull how to print the text. It is better to make a logbook to write all the step done to make a good PCB, because you will do it once a while and these details are not easy to remember.


                O bye the way. The service printing step is almost the last step (even after drilling).


                Best regards, Enrico

                • Re: At home low volume PCB printing

                  PCB's have really come down in price. You can get prototypes for around $50, what's the point of making them yourself? That's something we did back in the 80's, now it's gone the way of the dodo bird. Spend your time sourcing a good, cheap manufacturer, and use your talents in designing the best possible circuits, not messing with the boards: at least in my (old-guy) engineering opinion.

                  • Re: At home low volume PCB printing



                    I use a Canon MP270 Inkjet printer on standard print settings, print circuit from Eagle CAD ( double sided ) onto HP Premium Inkjet Transparency.


                    I then make a sandwich, double sided pre sensitized pcb between top and bottom layer artwork. Then sandwich all between 2 layers of thin glass to hold everything in place.


                    Expose for 2 mins either side in a UV exposure unit (home made).


                    Then straight to etching in a bubble etch tank for 5-10 mins.




                    Using this method it is possible to make a board with very fine pitch IC's in about an hour, at very minimal cost.

                    • Re: At home low volume PCB printing

                      I personally use Atmel Studio for my PCB layouts. It's very extensive, and also expensive, but it works like an absolute charm.

                      • Re: At home low volume PCB printing

                        Hi Cabe,

                        I consider that ExpressPCB is a good software but I agree with Frank Butty and I believe that it is a better option to order a prototype PCB and have the confident that all is going to work ok.

                        Nowadays there are many manufacturers that offer high quality and low cost prototype PCBs with good lead times. If you want to try with one of them I recommend you PCB Unlimited (http://www.pcbunlimited.com) since I have had good experiences with them.

                        I hope this has been helpful!