PCB Transfer Help

Frequently asked question on the subject of designing, creating, producing printed boards, veroboards or perfboads and on point-to-point construction techniques.

PCB Transfer Help

Postby MullisMan » 13 Nov 2010, 20:37

I've ironed on my PCB transfer to the copper clad board, and now I'm having a hell of a time getting the paper off. I'm worried about being too rough with my fingernails or scrub brushes, I had to start over from my first iron try because I scraped off a trace. I know you're supposed to make sure you heat the board enough so that the traces won't come off but I ironed that thing for a good 7 to 8 minutes. I'm using photo paper from Staples, and everything looks good, I just cannot get this last layer of paper off. Any suggestions? I've been letting it soak in water and taking it out every once in a while to try to rub off the paper with my fingers. Here's a pic of the board, it's the Baja Sonic stomp using Madbeans layout:
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Re: PCB Transfer Help

Postby DrNomis » 13 Nov 2010, 20:50

MullisMan wrote:I've ironed on my PCB transfer to the copper clad board, and now I'm having a hell of a time getting the paper off. I'm worried about being too rough with my fingernails or scrub brushes, I had to start over from my first iron try because I scraped off a trace. I know you're supposed to make sure you heat the board enough so that the traces won't come off but I ironed that thing for a good 7 to 8 minutes. I'm using photo paper from Staples, and everything looks good, I just cannot get this last layer of paper off. Any suggestions? I've been letting it soak in water and taking it out every once in a while to try to rub off the paper with my fingers. Here's a pic of the board, it's the Baja Sonic stomp using Madbeans layout:



Standard A4 printer paper is supposed to work alot better..... :)


There's a special blue sheet of film you can buy that is especially designed for this,it is called Press-And-Peel film,it is slightly smaller than A4 but still works fine in a lasterjet laser printer.... :)

If you are able to buy some from a local electronics parts store,try using some of that,you iron the artwork and once that's done,you simply peel the film off the board without having to use any water,after that,you etch the board.... :)
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Re: PCB Transfer Help

Postby Greenmachine » 13 Nov 2010, 21:18

DrNomis wrote:
MullisMan wrote:I've ironed on my PCB transfer to the copper clad board, and now I'm having a hell of a time getting the paper off. I'm worried about being too rough with my fingernails or scrub brushes, I had to start over from my first iron try because I scraped off a trace. I know you're supposed to make sure you heat the board enough so that the traces won't come off but I ironed that thing for a good 7 to 8 minutes. I'm using photo paper from Staples, and everything looks good, I just cannot get this last layer of paper off. Any suggestions? I've been letting it soak in water and taking it out every once in a while to try to rub off the paper with my fingers. Here's a pic of the board, it's the Baja Sonic stomp using Madbeans layout:



Standard A4 printer paper is supposed to work alot better..... :)


There's a special blue sheet of film you can buy that is especially designed for this,it is called Press-And-Peel film,it is slightly smaller than A4 but still works fine in a lasterjet laser printer.... :)

If you are able to buy some from a local electronics parts store,try using some of that,you iron the artwork and once that's done,you simply peel the film off the board without having to use any water,after that,you etch the board.... :)


Dr. N is correct. I'd scrap that board and start over with the press n peel.
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Re: PCB Transfer Help

Postby DrNomis » 13 Nov 2010, 21:41

Which reminds me,I need to buy myself some more sheets of blue Press-And-Peel film,oh and a toner cartridge refill for my Canon Laserjet P1005 Printer,but I'll do that this coming tuesday,I haven't etched a board for ages and want to do one for my UniVibe so I can revamp it a bit,some of the LFO lamp driver tracks have lifted off the PCB,and the underside looks a bit of a mess,besides I was never able to get the lamp adjustments right.... :)
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Re: PCB Transfer Help

Postby salocin » 13 Nov 2010, 22:25

I wouldn't scrap the board, if the toner has bonded well then you can put a bit of pressure into it without the toner coming loose.
Don't use fingernails or anything sharp or you'll scratch the toner.
I use my thumbs, and work from the edges in. Getting the paper off the parts with toner is less critical, its the exposed copper bits you need to get it off.

Not sure if standard A4 paper is better than photo paper? I've only heard of people having limited success with plain paper.

Can press and peel be reused?
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Re: PCB Transfer Help

Postby MullisMan » 13 Nov 2010, 22:32

Thing is, Press N Peel is expensive, and I read in the tutorial here about PCB fabrication that the photo paper works fine. Modman even made a tutorial with the photo paper. I've let it soak for a while and the paper is coming off easier, it's just a PITA. The toner transferred fine and the layout looks great.
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Re: PCB Transfer Help

Postby DrNomis » 13 Nov 2010, 22:40

i do agree that Press and peel is more expensive,however,when the time comes to remove the film after the ironing process,it is alot less of a hassle,yes the film is a use-once affair,but so is the paper method,I guess if it works for you,then all good,no two people do things exactly the same way,the world would be a very boring place if everyone did things the same way,each to there own.... :)

The Press-And-Peel film is just an alternative method,which I happen to like and it works for me.... :)


Hope PCB turns out alright,if you need any technical help,just let me know,okay?.... :)
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Re: PCB Transfer Help

Postby MullisMan » 13 Nov 2010, 22:50

Cool, I appreciate the tips. I'll let you know if the build goes as planned! This is my first foray into the PCB making world, so hopefully I won't get too discouraged and decided to shelf it.
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Re: PCB Transfer Help

Postby DrNomis » 13 Nov 2010, 23:13

MullisMan wrote:Cool, I appreciate the tips. I'll let you know if the build goes as planned! This is my first foray into the PCB making world, so hopefully I won't get too discouraged and decided to shelf it.




You'll be fine,you have all of us to draw on for help,and I've been there and done it too,just remember "Persistance pays off".... :)
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Re: PCB Transfer Help

Postby MullisMan » 14 Nov 2010, 05:14

Ok, I'm going to give the Press N' Peel a try. I've tried ironing two boards now and they both just aren't working. I let them both soak for hours and I still can't get this last layer of paper off, and when I use my nail or a pin it just scratches the toner off as well. I'm tempted just to put them in etchant and see what happens.


Time to contact Smallbear.... :)
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Re: PCB Transfer Help

Postby Scruffie » 14 Nov 2010, 06:10

I think it's just your type of paper, I think I had that problem when I was doing some toner transfers for enclosures, the laminate kind of melted and turned to a glue, letting it dry mainly then rubbing it with a finger for a while worked I seem to recall with a bit of gentle steel wool to finish it off... oh and try white spirits that might get it off if it's gluey.

Try some other paper though, or PnP Blue.
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Re: PCB Transfer Help

Postby DrNomis » 14 Nov 2010, 06:24

MullisMan wrote:Ok, I'm going to give the Press N' Peel a try. I've tried ironing two boards now and they both just aren't working. I let them both soak for hours and I still can't get this last layer of paper off, and when I use my nail or a pin it just scratches the toner off as well. I'm tempted just to put them in etchant and see what happens.


Time to contact Smallbear.... :)




What type of etchant are you using,or are going to use to etch your PCB?,there are two types that i know about,one is Ferric Chloride,and the other one is Amonium Persulphate,from what I have heard,Amonium Persulphate is the better of the two,since the etchant solution is a clear colourless liquid,which doesn't stain clothing if you happen to spill a bit on your clothes,it's the one I like to use.... :)
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Re: PCB Transfer Help

Postby rocklander » 14 Nov 2010, 10:15

salocin wrote:I wouldn't scrap the board, if the toner has bonded well then you can put a bit of pressure into it without the toner coming loose.
Don't use fingernails or anything sharp or you'll scratch the toner.
I use my thumbs, and work from the edges in. Getting the paper off the parts with toner is less critical, its the exposed copper bits you need to get it off.

Not sure if standard A4 paper is better than photo paper? I've only heard of people having limited success with plain paper.

I agree.. that looks well bonded. I usually throw the board in the freezer (after it's been wet) for about ten minutes to further contract the copper hopefully pulling the toner tighter to the copper, and then I just rub under a trickle of running water... that has given me pretty good results.. keep at it with this one I reckon.
also, for paper I just use paper from a glossy magazine.. the glossy stuff that is really rubbish feeling (if that makes sense) like on a "new idea" or "womans weekly" that the missus may have around (god forbid I tear up an FHM!!!).. the glossiness means the toner is less likely to bond, and the cheapness of the paper means it disintegrates pretty quickly.

salocin wrote:Can press and peel be reused?

nope.. and it should be at that price :x
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Re: PCB Transfer Help

Postby DrNomis » 14 Nov 2010, 11:40

rocklander wrote:
salocin wrote:I wouldn't scrap the board, if the toner has bonded well then you can put a bit of pressure into it without the toner coming loose.
Don't use fingernails or anything sharp or you'll scratch the toner.
I use my thumbs, and work from the edges in. Getting the paper off the parts with toner is less critical, its the exposed copper bits you need to get it off.

Not sure if standard A4 paper is better than photo paper? I've only heard of people having limited success with plain paper.

I agree.. that looks well bonded. I usually throw the board in the freezer (after it's been wet) for about ten minutes to further contract the copper hopefully pulling the toner tighter to the copper, and then I just rub under a trickle of running water... that has given me pretty good results.. keep at it with this one I reckon.
also, for paper I just use paper from a glossy magazine.. the glossy stuff that is really rubbish feeling (if that makes sense) like on a "new idea" or "womans weekly" that the missus may have around (god forbid I tear up an FHM!!!).. the glossiness means the toner is less likely to bond, and the cheapness of the paper means it disintegrates pretty quickly.

salocin wrote:Can press and peel be reused?

nope.. and it should be at that price :x




The paper method cannot be reused either..... :)
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Re: PCB Transfer Help

Postby rackham » 14 Nov 2010, 11:51

It's all about the acetate as far as I'm concerned. You can get A4 'transparency film' from most decent stationery places. It's a bit pricier than photo paper but cheaper than press'n'peel.

5 minutes of ironing and it peels off without any of that white crap that paper leaves behind. Dead easy and consistent.
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Re: PCB Transfer Help

Postby madbean » 14 Nov 2010, 17:04

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Re: PCB Transfer Help

Postby rocklander » 14 Nov 2010, 19:08

DrNomis wrote:The paper method cannot be reused either..... :)

:? I'd have thought the word 'disintegrate' pretty much clarified that.. the difference being that the cost of a magazine with shyteloads of pages is significantly cheaper than a single a4 sheet of p'n'p.
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Re: PCB Transfer Help

Postby madbean » 14 Nov 2010, 19:12

One other thing: you can reuse PNP after a transfer. Just wipe it clean with Acetone and print the next transfer as transparency :)
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Re: PCB Transfer Help

Postby MullisMan » 14 Nov 2010, 23:27

I threw that board in the freezer after I was done ironing it, so I think it's probably just the paper. It's HP photo paper from Staples and it said Inkjet on the package. I figured what the heck, it should still work and threw it into the laser printer, so maybe that's my problem too. Can anybody shed some light on whether the paper has to be specifically for laser printers? I'm going to try some press n' peel, and maybe get some different paper. When you guys say use magazine paper, what do you mean? You rip a page out of a magazine and print it on that? There's usually words and ink already printed on that so I don't see how that works.

I have etchant from Radioshack, pretty sure it's the ferric stuff, it's dark and smells pretty horrible. If I get transparency paper, does that take less time to iron?
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Re: PCB Transfer Help

Postby rocklander » 14 Nov 2010, 23:31

MullisMan wrote:When you guys say use magazine paper, what do you mean? You rip a page out of a magazine and print it on that? There's usually words and ink already printed on that so I don't see how that works.

yeah, I had the same thoughts, but then I tried it and it works fine... the ink from the printing press is impregnated better I guess, and doesn't come out in the ironing process, whereas the toner is heat transferred and so it sticks to the hotter material (the copper) over the less hot material (the paper).. I don't pretend to understand the physics of it all, just that it works.. heh.
I poke a bunch of holes with a pin in the paper too so it's even more likely to disintegrate/fall apart when I want it to.. and I print on normal paper first, then use magic tape (scotch?) to tape a piece larger than the PCB over it (same way one does with p'n'p) then bang it through the laser printer again afterwards...
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