Author Topic: Best printer for toner transfer  (Read 6104 times)

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Offline KL27x

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #75 on: June 18, 2020, 09:06:05 pm »
^Some Brother printers don't work. If your google-fu is good, you can figure it out by looking up cartridges and MSDS's. When I did this maybe 10 years ago, there was only a small percentage of Brother printers that used the weird ingredients.

Quote
I also found my old A4 Creative laminator. Any advice on how to use it?
Mine is a GBC Creative. It came with a dual tone blue plastic cover. I found it will stall out (start to skip gears, actually; the motor doesn't stall) on a full thickness 0.06" board. I egged out the holes in the plastic that hold the ends of the top roller just a bit, so that these boards will fit. There are leaf springs on either end that push the roller down, so this doesn't affect smaller boards. It just opens up the max thickness, a little.

edit: you have to be careful not to widen the hole. You want to lengthen it just a tad, into the beginnings of a slot. You don't want it any bigger in diameter, else I imagine there would be problems. I didn't have any, but I was careful and kept that in mind.

Personally, I threw out the plastic cover and just screwed the thing down to a wood board, using the 4 screw holes in the bottom of the innards. The board extends out past the right side of the laminator for enclosing the wiring and switch. The thing should be considered live, though. It's definitely a shock hazard. No bare feet when using it. If the board is wet, you can shock yourself even with the cover on, I have found. Take care.

;;;;;;;;;;
At first, I was happy with this laminator, all by itself. It was fairly reliable up to maybe 2x2" boards. Just playing around. But then when doing larger boards, it stopped being reliable. Not enough heat, no matter how many slow trips through. I think after 3 passes, maybe, you're not getting hotter, anymore. That's why I use the heat gun and the pre-etch.

The heatgun fixed the initial problem. But it revealed a new one: smeared/fattened transfers when the temp gets too high, resulting in a loss of effective fidelity/resolution, and producing inspection problems at any rate. Lots of sketchy things to examine before populating this board, due to artifacts.

Because the main ingredient in regular toner is wax, the melting range is fairly narrow. It doesn't go from solid to liquid exactly like water does. The more complex a wax is, the more it actually has different parts that melt in a range of temp. Beeswax is a natural example. But the range could be very narrow, as well. Then, the liquid:solid ratio is a phase change. The amount of TIME you keep it at this temp also matters. Else the toner melts like a snowflake in the sun. The printer regulates temp of a piece of paper, which is a small mass and a predictable thing. It can do this way better than we can the analogy with a copper clad board. Esp the larger it gets, and the more you have to account that it has a size and shape. It's not a point-object or one with perfect thermal conduction.

edit: Trying to partially melt the toner is a lot like cooking a pizza. You can make your pizza, and it comes out fine, but you learned exactly how long to set the timer. Now make a pizza way bigger or smaller. There's no easy formula, and the copper clad is a composite of 2 materials with very different density and thermal conductance. For the pizza, you use experience and your baking skill. And sometimes it works on the first try; sometimes it doesn't. And any pockets that are over or underdone will likely result in a complete board failure/redo when the traces get sub 10 mil. You can't repair those with a sharpie.

So now, the first thought is probably the same as mine was. How to achieve that precise of a temp and baking time for varying-sized boards in a practical way? I imagine math. Calculations. Correction factors. Pre-heaters, ramp-ups, reflow profiles, computer simulations? But this question, I never had to answer. I found another way to do it.

The pre-etch eventually solved this second problem. But only after learning that you need to get it even hotter, to start with, but now pie's the limit.

In case anyone has a different experience, I'm curious to learn from it!
« Last Edit: June 18, 2020, 10:42:04 pm by KL27x »
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #76 on: June 18, 2020, 11:13:28 pm »

@KL27X, have you measured the temperature achievable on the rollers?  Would be interesting to compare.  I have never had a problem getting the toner from the paper to the copper...   my problem has always been getting enough toner on the paper in the first place! :D
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #77 on: June 18, 2020, 11:26:23 pm »
I have measured the temp as the board is just coming out the back of rollers using an IR gun. The gun reading on shiny copper didn't make any sense. I think there's a way to adjust the gun for "emissivity," or something, but I didn't want to go there. So I did this on bare FR-4.

Per my memory, the temp maxed out on maybe the third pass. I was probably using a 4x6" 0.06" FR-4 board, probably with copper on one side. How thick? I didn't pay much attention back then. But that max temp was... well, I don't really remember. But with the heat gun being slowly waved over the board, from the top FR-4 side, as it went into rollers, this temp at the output side rose more-or-less exactly 100 degrees higher. This is the only detail I would testify to. I don't even remember if that was F or C. I posted some numbers in a different thread, recently, and those might be right? I would take them with a grain of salt.
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #78 on: June 19, 2020, 12:09:14 am »

My laminator "says" it is getting to 370F on its display...  but I haven't actually attempted to measure the real temperature yet.

Generally I agree that the hotter, the better - it seems to be good medicine for the process.  I haven't seen smearing or other negative consequences.
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #79 on: June 19, 2020, 12:29:01 am »
I just found a temp gun. GF musta returned it from COVID duty, checking employee temperatures. IIRC, this is the one that reads 20 degrees lower than the other Dollar Store temp gun I used the last time. So I dunno how accurate my tools are, but I'll try to post some harder data, soon enough.

Dunno what software you use, but in Eagle, there is a box marked "black" when you print. It took me awhile before I noticed, because traces and planes and SMD pads were already black. But thru hole pads and vias printed in greyscale. I take it you have issues with solid planes. Perhaps your software does something screwy, like this? You might try changing the plane to another layer? Also, some papers might have more problem taking a print than others?
« Last Edit: June 19, 2020, 01:44:27 am by KL27x »
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #80 on: June 19, 2020, 03:56:23 am »
I did make that mistake early on, LOL.  - but now it is the printer...

Last weekend, I found a way to feed the printout through the printer twice... basically, by "shrinking" the artwork slightly the second time, so there aren't any misalignment issues on the second print.  That looks to be working surprisingly well, because the toner coating tends to always be quite good along the edges...  so now, I get completely black, rich, thick coverage everywhere, no need for toner transfer foil as far as I can see!  I'm going to try this weekend to see how that turns out in the etching bag...
 

Offline tooki

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #81 on: June 19, 2020, 05:26:50 am »
^Some Brother printers don't work. If your google-fu is good, you can figure it out by looking up cartridges and MSDS's. When I did this maybe 10 years ago, there was only a small percentage of Brother printers that used the weird ingredients.

FWIW, the Brother toner didn’t even attempt to stick to the PCB. I then tried spritzing some IPA between PCB and transfer, and this allowed some of the toner to stick, but when removing the transfer sheet, the toner actually stretched and pulled away.


Anyhow, as for Kyocera: I haven’t tried the color printer yet, but the B&W one worked ok but not great. I had to touch up a lot of spots. The PCB will work, but it’s nowhere near as sharp as what I got with the now-dead Samsung printer.

I wonder if for this purpose, the cheapest laser printers are actually ideal: they tend to use quick-heating instant fusers that I suspect don’t get as hot as the always-on fusers in larger printers. If this speculation is true, I’d assume the toner formulations are also designed for lower temperatures, which perhaps might be more suited to laminator temperatures.

FYI, my laminator is a GBC Mylam-9, a heavy duty office laminator. (It’s the kind that uses flat heaters, with unheated rollers before and after the heater block.) I run it on maximum for toner transfer, and typically run the board through 4 or 5 times to ensure a good transfer.
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #82 on: June 19, 2020, 01:25:09 pm »

The support person at Pulsar (makers of the toner transfer paper) said older laser printers are actually better, he recommended buying a used older HP with 1200dpi resolution and that is what they use themselves...   For what it's worth.   They are actually good to talk to, they know most printers "by heart" now! :D

 

Offline KL27x

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #83 on: June 19, 2020, 06:45:55 pm »
There's a big enough space between the metal bits to get a reading directly off the silicone rollers, from the back of my skeletonized Creative. Fully hot, it reads 268-270F.

A 4x6" 0.06" 2 oz SS board put through the long way, starting at 95F and read as it exits. Heating and reading from the bare FR-4 side.
By 3rd pass, it is exiting at 235-240F, and I'm dealing with a hot potato trying to get it back in by the edges. Had a brief moment of actual pain, here.

On the 4th pass is gets all the way into the 260's F, which is pretty darn close to the temp the rollers reach, themselves.

With the heat gun, the board exits the laminator at ~340F. And you can jump to there on just the second pass. With the heat gun on there, the rollers should be cooling the board down, I suppose.

If your laminator actually goes to 370F, that should be pretty hot compared to the my Creative.

https://poppbinding.com/faqconc/what-temperature-should-you-run-laminating-films-at/
This suggests that my laminator is pretty ordinary.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2020, 07:48:48 pm by KL27x »
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #84 on: June 19, 2020, 08:15:48 pm »
I just ran my similarly skeletonized "Apache" brand laminator (similar to this one: http://www.apachelaminators.com/al18p.html) up to its max setting of 379F.   My old and not particularly spectacular IR thermometer read 186C on the rollers, which works out to 367F -  close enough for Australia, it is probably close to its displayed temperature!

This probably explains why I am not seeing any issues getting the toner to stick to the PCB. 

Looking forward to the "double print" test this w/e,  I'll probably make a special with a large black area just to test...



« Last Edit: June 19, 2020, 08:19:56 pm by SilverSolder »
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #85 on: June 19, 2020, 08:24:28 pm »
The more we learn, wow. Quite a difference.

Now the question is why your toner doesn't squish/fatten when you transfer at these temps? Maybe something to do with your printer being "stingy" with the toner? Or is it different toner?

And why your transfer doesn't work when you do the pre-etch? Is it any of the above, or maybe it is the etchant? Or is my board significantly hotter than you get, even, as it goes into the rollers, at least? I'm curious if you would shoot your heat gun at the bare FR-4 on the exit side.

I would try pre-etch in acid+peroxide, but I don't have any peroxide.  :'(

Mine is one of those relatively old HP printers, FWIW. HP Laserjet p1102w.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2020, 08:28:11 pm by KL27x »
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #86 on: June 19, 2020, 08:47:32 pm »

I don't see any squish, no.  Even after running through several times.  As you say, probably because the toner is already on the thin side (but only on large areas - thin traces are fine). 

The printer is an HP2300 (recommended by Pulsar, it's what they use) and should be "good".  The toner is a new cartridge, original HP.   Who knows, maybe a Brand X cartridge would work better...  apparently, the less sophisticated the toner, the better.  (Less sophisticated = less additives that enhances performance for normal printing)

I clean the PCBs with a ScotchBrite pad and some acetone before laminating.  The toner always sticks to the PCB like the proverbial sh!t to a blanket, so I have never been tempted to pre-etch.


 

Offline KL27x

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #87 on: June 19, 2020, 09:13:36 pm »
The printer could be a bigger variable than I thought. I had good and similar results with the first two printers I tried, so I may have underestimated the differences.

I imagine they could have improved the output efficiency. By applying the toner more accurately, you could print more pages with the same physical amount of toner, by laying the toner thinner and still not suffering any holes in the coverage. That would be a few cents higher profit per cartridge in a mature, competitive, and high-volume market without lower-lying fruit to pick. It's a win-win, except to the toner transfer guy?

In comparison, my HP 1102 is maybe slathering the toner on the way I like the butter on my waffles?

If you are using the same Printer that Pulsar uses, and in light of your observations, I wouldn't be too surprised if the foil step isn't indeed the most efficient way to plug the holes, afterall. But the double-print technique sounds promising, esp if you could simply adjust a couple of clearances for the second pass.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2020, 09:51:44 pm by KL27x »
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #88 on: June 19, 2020, 10:26:45 pm »

I wish I could get mine to "butter the toast" that way!  :D 

As long as the tracks are thin enough (12 mil?), mine does "butter the toast" very well... 

I also have a Canon photocopier, which I bought before the printer - I was thinking, I could photocopy inkjet printed artwork...   but it has the same problem with not "buttering the toast",  the HP printer actually puts down more toner than the photocopier...   and the printer has higher resolution to boot...

Let's see how things pan out with the "double coat" trick, at least that is something new and interesting to try!

 

Offline moffy

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #89 on: June 21, 2020, 07:09:55 am »
Printer Kyocera 2040dw, at half speed onto yellow toner transfer paper.
Here is the promised photo, detail was excellent with toner transfer 100%. Sorry for the quality of the photo but I wanted the detail to be visible.
 
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Offline rfguy2020

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #90 on: June 22, 2020, 08:48:30 am »
I decided to test Xerox Phaser 6510.  I have only tested black and white prints on regular paper to evaluate print quality. It looks like my old Samsung has better resolution (should be 1200x1200). Xerox should be up to 1200x2400.

I have tested the test pattern, which has 9 x lines (50um, 75um, 100um, 125um, 150um, 175um, 200um, 225um, 250um), all gaps 200um. Some of the lines in Xerox print looks like equal, so it looks like resolution causes some issues. Samsung prints has some residue / black dots near lines, but those are not big issue, since those will be most probably disappear in the toner transfer.

I couldn't find how these resolutions are defined with these color printers. Should I get 1200x2400 resolution for all four colors? Or should I divide it actually by four (600x1200 / 1200x600)? Or something else?
« Last Edit: June 22, 2020, 09:13:44 am by rfguy2020 »
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #91 on: June 22, 2020, 01:13:48 pm »

I made a couple of test documents with "tracks" ranging from 1 mil to 15 mils,  positive and negative versions.

If your printer can do these, it is pretty good!   Here, only my Inkjet printer does a great job,  the Laserjet struggles with the thinnest lines.

 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #92 on: June 22, 2020, 01:49:23 pm »

...and here is a more comprehensive ISO12233 test chart for checking printer resolution.   This one is excellent for "nailing" your driver settings to get the best output possible.

To use it, resize the page to fit your printer (full landscape page), select best quality, and print...   

The numbers on the chart show you 100x the number of lines per picture height.  So you divide that number by the picture height to normalize (for example, if your image is 7" high, divide by 7 to get lines per inch).

My particular old Laserjet 2300 gets to around 175 lines per inch on this chart at decent quality, perhaps a little better on a good day.  This is a native 1200x1200 resolution printer.

I had to play with a lot of different drivers and settings to get it to print at that resolution...
 
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Offline rfguy2020

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #93 on: June 23, 2020, 05:24:13 am »

I made a couple of test documents with "tracks" ranging from 1 mil to 15 mils,  positive and negative versions.

If your printer can do these, it is pretty good!   Here, only my Inkjet printer does a great job,  the Laserjet struggles with the thinnest lines.

This is similar test than I have done. From the positive, all lines looks good on paper with Samsung. From to negative, gaps above 2 mils are clear.

Xerox can also print all positive lines, but for example 1 & 2 mils line are same. Also 3 & 4 are same. Negative layout has same issue. Gaps 1 & 2 are useless and gaps 3&4 are the same.
 
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #94 on: June 23, 2020, 10:24:14 am »

I made a couple of test documents with "tracks" ranging from 1 mil to 15 mils,  positive and negative versions.

If your printer can do these, it is pretty good!   Here, only my Inkjet printer does a great job,  the Laserjet struggles with the thinnest lines.

This is similar test than I have done. From the positive, all lines looks good on paper with Samsung. From to negative, gaps above 2 mils are clear.

Xerox can also print all positive lines, but for example 1 & 2 mils line are same. Also 3 & 4 are same. Negative layout has same issue. Gaps 1 & 2 are useless and gaps 3&4 are the same.

It sounds like the Xerox driver is not giving max resolution?  Try the ISO12233 test chart...
 

Offline rfguy2020

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #95 on: June 23, 2020, 10:37:08 am »

I made a couple of test documents with "tracks" ranging from 1 mil to 15 mils,  positive and negative versions.

If your printer can do these, it is pretty good!   Here, only my Inkjet printer does a great job,  the Laserjet struggles with the thinnest lines.

This is similar test than I have done. From the positive, all lines looks good on paper with Samsung. From to negative, gaps above 2 mils are clear.

Xerox can also print all positive lines, but for example 1 & 2 mils line are same. Also 3 & 4 are same. Negative layout has same issue. Gaps 1 & 2 are useless and gaps 3&4 are the same.

It sounds like the Xerox driver is not giving max resolution?  Try the ISO12233 test chart...

Same problem with the ISO chart. I have not analyzed the chart yet, but it is clearly worse that Samsung. I have played around with drivers and got it a bit better. Resolution is not as good as I expected.
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #96 on: June 23, 2020, 03:22:23 pm »

I made a couple of test documents with "tracks" ranging from 1 mil to 15 mils,  positive and negative versions.

If your printer can do these, it is pretty good!   Here, only my Inkjet printer does a great job,  the Laserjet struggles with the thinnest lines.

This is similar test than I have done. From the positive, all lines looks good on paper with Samsung. From to negative, gaps above 2 mils are clear.

Xerox can also print all positive lines, but for example 1 & 2 mils line are same. Also 3 & 4 are same. Negative layout has same issue. Gaps 1 & 2 are useless and gaps 3&4 are the same.

It sounds like the Xerox driver is not giving max resolution?  Try the ISO12233 test chart...

Same problem with the ISO chart. I have not analyzed the chart yet, but it is clearly worse that Samsung. I have played around with drivers and got it a bit better. Resolution is not as good as I expected.

I probably spent a week getting the right driver for my printer....  which turned out to be a Samsung driver, that just happens to work with this HP printer (both share the same Canon mechanics)!  :D
 

Offline tooki

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #97 on: June 23, 2020, 03:40:57 pm »
HP bought Samsung’s printer division a few years ago. HP’s current entry-level printers all look more like the Samsungs than the pre-acquisition entry-level LaserJets, so I suspect that the Samsung models simply replaced HP’s own entry-level designs.
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #98 on: June 23, 2020, 04:21:25 pm »
HP bought Samsung’s printer division a few years ago. HP’s current entry-level printers all look more like the Samsungs than the pre-acquisition entry-level LaserJets, so I suspect that the Samsung models simply replaced HP’s own entry-level designs.

Don't forget mine is quite old  -   the Samsung model that it is compatible with is from 2006 or something like that!  -  definitely shared Canon internals.
 

Offline tooki

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Re: Best printer for toner transfer
« Reply #99 on: June 23, 2020, 04:42:05 pm »
Canon is responsible for a huge amount of the laser printer engines out there. I think it’s kinda crazy how Apple and HP are famous for having introduced desktop laser printing with the LaserWriter and LaserJet, respectively, yet nobody remembers or recognizes Canon for producing the laser engine inside both of them!!  (Sure, the controllers and page description languages that made them into working total systems are also hugely important, but without the print engine it would have been moot.)
 
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