Author Topic: Best printer for toner transfer  (Read 6086 times)

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Offline rfguy2020

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Best printer for toner transfer
« on: June 01, 2020, 08:01:44 am »
I have used toner transfer method for sometime to make PCB prototypes. I have used Samsung SCX3205 as my laser printer. It seems to work pretty ok, but it is getting old I want to get new even better printer for toner transfer method.

Main issue with Samsung printer has been large metal areas, which can have some holes. I think it is mainly due to uneven toner amount on the press n peel film. I have been able to make 100-150um lines and gaps with my Samsung.

I'm looking for alternatives to upgrade my printer and further enhance the quality of prototypes. I think I need printer with 1200dpi resolution. I have been looking for Xerox phaser 3330 and HP LaserJet Pro M304a. Anyone has any experience of these?

I think toner has significant impact to quality. I believe that lower melting point of toner would help. Does anyone has any experience of LED vs. laser printer?

I have also considered old Xerox colorqube printers, but I don't have access to any of those. I could get refurbished one, but I have impression that I cannot make thin 100um lines with solid ink printer even though resolution is 2400dpi. Anyone has used Colorqube for PCB prototypes?
 

Offline moffy

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2020, 12:06:11 pm »
My only experience has been negative, but recently discovered it was due to my Brother printer. The toner would not transfer. Look forward to hearing about suitable printers.
 

Offline madires

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2020, 12:31:05 pm »
The printer isn't that important, it's the toner which matters. Some types of toner work great, some are ok, and others don't work at all. In some cases an alternative toner cartridge can be better than a genuine one. And if you found the right one, the vendor could change the toner type in a few years, but that's less likely for genuine toner cartridges.
 

Online kripton2035

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2020, 12:33:27 pm »
making a professionnal pcb is so cheap today that I don't bother anymore with making my pcb at home.
not speaking of the disposal of chemical acids.
I would better invest in a small cnc to make small pcb quickly by milling, but not a toner transfert method.

Offline rfguy2020

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2020, 01:45:31 pm »
I have read that Brother toner has some issues and it does not work. I'm not sure about latest printer models, if the toner has changed.

I want to use original toners, since I believe the quality is more consistent.

I will make mainly flexible PCB, which cannot be done with PCB mill. Or can we?

I will make my pcb by myself, because it is much faster.
 
 

Online SilverSolder

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2020, 06:44:27 pm »

I was told by the makers of the Pulsar paper that one of the best (and now cheap) printers to get is the HP-2300 (second hand, obviously), using OEM toner only.  I have had fantastic results with it.   

BUT!!!!  -  large black areas (ground fills) are a no-no with toner transfer,  even with a good printer.  Laser printers simply don't "do" large filled black areas that well.  As a workaround, try a cross-hatch pattern instead.  If you really need large ground planes, photographic methods are better.
 
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Offline Alex Eisenhut

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2020, 06:57:55 pm »
Many laser/LED printers use toner save modes that can be turned off.
*Except AC/DC adapters on eBay. Avoid them all!
 

Online SilverSolder

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2020, 01:24:12 am »
Many laser/LED printers use toner save modes that can be turned off.

The "no large black areas" also applies to photocopiers.  Try it!

I don't fully understand why there is this limitation with this technology...  maybe it has something to do with it not being possible to fully charge such a large are of the toner drum surface (which picks up the toner particles electrostatically where it has been exposed to light).
 
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Offline phil from seattle

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2020, 02:57:06 am »
yeah, that's basically it.  When I was doing toner transfer, I would just take some toner powder, mix it in acetone and paint the areas that weren't completely covered.  Problem solved.  That and a bunch of other problems pushed me to get my boards made by a PCB fab.  Haven't looked back in regret at all.
 
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Offline Domagoj T

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2020, 05:59:41 am »
I'm often in the "I need my PCB right now, and I only need one" camp too, so I understand the pain of fighting the printers. Also, fairly often I do some etchings in brass sheets, so having a setup and procedure figured out has this added benefit.
Anyway, I use Lexmark MX310. It also struggles with large areas, but that is something I can easily fix by applying toner foil such as this:
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32835703005.html?spm=a2g0o.productlist.0.0.70d17f2639vuE0&algo_pvid=4ce922c3-dd3d-4d9a-915d-fb26f7f0a320&algo_expid=4ce922c3-dd3d-4d9a-915d-fb26f7f0a320-0&btsid=0ab6fab215910771593551508e743f&ws_ab_test=searchweb0_0,searchweb201602_,searchweb201603_

When passed through a laminator it sticks only to toner and provides better etch resist and fills in the tiny holes where toner didn't cover. It's been my mandatory step ever since I found out about it.
It is also good for UV methods which I use for brass sheets.
 

Offline rfguy2020

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2020, 07:03:30 am »
Thank you for good improvement ideas.

About the problem of laser printing of large metal areas. I wonder if anyone has used color printer to overcome the issue? If I would use some kind of grid of different toner colors, then I don't actually print single large metal area. According to my understanding, color laser printer just has several laser printers in serial.

I haven't try to make my own fixing ink from toner and acetone. I have used silver paint pen to fill some holes when needed. This pen will dissolve some of toner. I think most of my holes are very small and there are so many, that manual fixing would be huge effort. Press n Peel film has this blue stuff, which I think will protect toner a bit. Acetone will dissolve blue stuff as well. Anyway, I have to try.

Lexmark MX310 seems to be discontinued. Lexmark ink seems to work.

Anyone used Xerox?

Based on this site, Xerox is the best:
http://nerdclub-uk.blogspot.com/2015/05/press-n-peel-toner-printing-test.html

I have been using Press n peel so far. Pulsar has similar paper, but you have to laminate separately this green film on top. I guess the green film is actually similar to this hot stamping foil.

 

Offline xavier60

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2020, 10:39:20 am »
Has anyone else tried heating the paper or film just before it's printed to?
With My HP 6L, lowering the moisture content increases the toner transfer from the drum, resulting in better large area fills.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2020, 11:03:12 am by xavier60 »
Hioki AS100D vom, HP 54645A dso, Fluke 87V dmm, AN8008 dmm, Agilent U8002A psu,  FY6600 function gen, New! Brymen BM857S-(With Battery)
 
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Online SilverSolder

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2020, 10:59:31 am »

I've not found the green foil to be necessary as long as there are no large black areas.

Note that when I say "large black areas" I am talking about pretty much filling an entire 8 inch by 10.5 inch rectangle with black!  -   That becomes too thin to rescue with any method, including spraying toner fixer, laminating green foil, or whatever.

You can of course have reasonably sized black fills on a small PCB in the middle of an otherwise blank page...

 

Offline madires

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2020, 11:18:53 am »
Another way to deal with large solid black areas is to us a toner enhancement spray.
 

Offline RoGeorge

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2020, 11:44:07 am »
This is from 2014.  Anybody here tried direct PCB laser printing, where the toner is deposited on the copper clad by laser printer?


Offline rfguy2020

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #15 on: June 02, 2020, 12:01:24 pm »
I have been thinking of keeping my press n peel films in oven, but I have not ever tested it. I have bee afraid that they will stick together or some other way damaged. As moisture has big impact for example 3D printing filaments, it probably helps toner transfer method as well. 24h at +60C would work?

"Large black area" for me is about 20mm x 20mm square.

I have not used and heard about toner enhancement spray. It sounds like something which will dissolve toner, which might reduce resolution. Where I can find this kind of spray?

I have actually done some testing by printing toner directly to flexible board. Image was transferred, but it has even more holes. I didn't test that method further, since it sounds a bit risky for your printer.

Xerox has something called EA toner:
https://www.office.xerox.com/latest/SUPWP-01.pdf

It sounds pretty good for toner transfer method (more accurate and lower temperature). I'm not sure if anyone has tested?
 

Offline madires

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #16 on: June 02, 2020, 12:22:20 pm »
I have not used and heard about toner enhancement spray. It sounds like something which will dissolve toner, which might reduce resolution. Where I can find this kind of spray?

Reichelt sells TVD LF-A. Or you could use Solvent 50 which is meant to remove labels/stickers but also works great as toner enhancer. I'm using Solvent 50 for my layouts printed on tracing paper.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2020, 12:25:00 pm by madires »
 

Offline rfguy2020

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2020, 12:27:12 pm »
I have not used and heard about toner enhancement spray. It sounds like something which will dissolve toner, which might reduce resolution. Where I can find this kind of spray?

Reichelt sells TVD LF-A. Or you could use Solvent 50 which is meant to remove labels/stickers but also works great as toner enhancer. I'm using Solvent 50 for my layouts printed on tracing paper.

Does it reduce resolution?
 

Offline madires

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #18 on: June 02, 2020, 01:27:41 pm »
Not that I'm aware of it. But I'd guess, if you have a single white dot (>=600dpi) inside a large black area it would vanish.
 

Online SilverSolder

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #19 on: June 02, 2020, 01:31:18 pm »
I have not used and heard about toner enhancement spray. It sounds like something which will dissolve toner, which might reduce resolution. Where I can find this kind of spray?

Reichelt sells TVD LF-A. Or you could use Solvent 50 which is meant to remove labels/stickers but also works great as toner enhancer. I'm using Solvent 50 for my layouts printed on tracing paper.

Does it reduce resolution?

If it does, it isn't by much.  As long as you don't "wash" the PCB in it (like running streams of liquid) it will just evaporate in place and not move anything around.
 

Online SilverSolder

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #20 on: June 02, 2020, 01:32:52 pm »
Another way to deal with large solid black areas is to us a toner enhancement spray.

For smaller values of large solid black areas I have found that toner spray does help remove pinholes.

It won't cure a really large solid black area that doesn't have enough toner on it in the first place, due to the limitations of the electrostatic drum printing method.
 

Offline madires

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #21 on: June 02, 2020, 02:07:56 pm »
Eco printing (toner saver) mode enabled or disabled? Draft or high quality mode?
 

Offline Wimberleytech

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #22 on: June 02, 2020, 02:17:56 pm »
Another way to deal with large solid black areas is to us a toner enhancement spray.

For smaller values of large solid black areas I have found that toner spray does help remove pinholes.

It won't cure a really large solid black area that doesn't have enough toner on it in the first place, due to the limitations of the electrostatic drum printing method.

I use heat transfer foil to address pinholes.  A little extra work but the end product is always better.
 

Online SilverSolder

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #23 on: June 02, 2020, 02:22:05 pm »
Eco printing (toner saver) mode enabled or disabled? Draft or high quality mode?

Everything turned to the max amount of toner possible, highest resolution, maximally dark.  It works beautifully on everything you throw at it, except very large black fills.

I have tried this on several different printers and photocopiers.  If you try to copy or print a 10.5" by 8" black square,  there isn't any electrostatic toner based machine that I tried (including large Xerox machines at print shops etc.) that will make a completely black copy - it appears to be a limitation of the technology.

The only workaround that I have found is this:  Print the outline of the black area, and fill in the black area some other way (Sharpie, for example).

 

Online SilverSolder

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #24 on: June 02, 2020, 02:25:54 pm »
Another way to deal with large solid black areas is to us a toner enhancement spray.

For smaller values of large solid black areas I have found that toner spray does help remove pinholes.

It won't cure a really large solid black area that doesn't have enough toner on it in the first place, due to the limitations of the electrostatic drum printing method.

I use heat transfer foil to address pinholes.  A little extra work but the end product is always better.

Can your printer actually do a 10.5" by 8" black rectangle that works to etch a PCB - with or without foil?  If so, you own the Holy Grail of lasers!  :D

I've found that every time I try that, the toner gets so thin it can't be rescued by transfer foil or anything else.
 


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