Author Topic: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer  (Read 2978 times)

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Offline moffy

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Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« on: March 21, 2021, 07:39:26 am »
I got my new Kyocera laser printer which is fantastic, but my laminator failed irreparably(not worth the cost) so I need some recommendations, for Australia.
I have looked at the older recommendations, but I wonder if there are any newer ones, like the laser printers models disappear.
I like the look of a couple on ebay, but have no idea about suitability e.g.
https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/A3-A4-Laminating-Laminator-Machine-Office-Commercial-Cold-Hot-Mounted-Thermal-D/202874273707?_trkparms=ispr%3D1&hash=item2f3c3fbfab:g:nw0AAOSwPYNfz0TX&amdata=enc%3AAQAFAAACcBaobrjLl8XobRIiIML1V4Imu%252Fn%252BzU5L90Z278x5ickkrmmq8hWevtuKE7%252F%252BLfVXtnm3eOFputsGOUjcx8A418HEK%252BM95D%252FzvTj2g%252FvyF7EEC1wFVDlnm7seBZZ1SAv988qDX8s0A0hRV764SfvOwFy3UEoXqIYSUQPCD4EuO8TXgzkhLrgAlL8haImwOcTsf8p66hi3E7MAj2rEjB7713DjJc61uW1KXgOznR0uYXjf8CMytQy1OBxHMPqhjhPURAvo5L4WLB9NJqYXXXS%252FG0tvODV2fy4fa7FXhawR7Se%252FuVypn6vRRclYHaD73HOrsQJIS8rRLRQS9%252FzZESa00Qfks9tgNnFBLSCa7os00DqGAzm9%252Fi%252BeOXQj0uHmZiVbQWNt%252BasTTAKUvaDcf%252BRv6G7zAohEOf%252FBn6xoy6VmOsfPluZmWQZokjM8OXmekqzC78gTJiN3eHz4d6tuLMij8OM3JMdbrS1ickY6eXRuCS%252Brlw25rz8QREiu12%252BUW0ASSWhFpEnllTWBZa1BsUj8YUgVOwcA4yOsdiT%252B4sSn%252BJu4L1fEm%252BGbCCozzB2imxWLu%252FijkLX7Z8LVOlBefSI7vSKI5P%252BFhzPENeyYPRbbXwH9OXcBV9%252BJASLawwE9K2OnLvxAEnx0iw7%252Fq7eSxEmHBwZVHu8DjdEPDUprl07byNVpCLcstOS%252BlD56GtcGT3fuELv4RdW5fGwew2fGLjmzLiwC5rWNM34xdT8tbxgFFBPt1Tqrx9YJH9PzUbGQojrdpamVLtNsn5M%252FbJPmL7E7lcU6RGAwjWcxuWA7u8o7NScs7KVoV9nmsESxodjsL2bV7A%253D%253D%7Ccksum%3A2028742737076335ee6e0ffc4a74982fcf42afd281d9%7Campid%3APL_CLK%7Cclp%3A2334524
https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/220V-600W-Pro-A3-4-Rollers-Thermal-Hot-Cold-Film-Laminating-Laminator-Machine/193857412737?_trkparms=aid%3D1110006%26algo%3DHOMESPLICE.SIM%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D231489%26meid%3Daf8f1ab8cd7346db975c630287c43c38%26pid%3D101195%26rk%3D5%26rkt%3D12%26mehot%3Dco%26sd%3D202874273707%26itm%3D193857412737%26pmt%3D1%26noa%3D0%26pg%3D2047675%26algv%3DSimplAMLv9PairwiseUnbiasedWeb&_trksid=p2047675.c101195.m1851
https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/VEVOR-Lamination-MachineThermal-Laminator-Machine-12-6-for-Home-School-Office/174612846214?_trkparms=aid%3D1110006%26algo%3DHOMESPLICE.SIM%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D231489%26meid%3Daf8f1ab8cd7346db975c630287c43c38%26pid%3D101195%26rk%3D6%26rkt%3D12%26mehot%3Dco%26sd%3D202874273707%26itm%3D174612846214%26pmt%3D1%26noa%3D0%26pg%3D2047675%26algv%3DSimplAMLv9PairwiseUnbiasedWeb&_trksid=p2047675.c101195.m1851

If you have had success with a laminator for toner transfer, please mention it, as a current list would be helpful.

Thanks.
 

Online RoGeorge

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2021, 11:33:12 am »
Don't know which one can heat high enough, but I've made one from a LASER printer's oven once.  Then tried for about a full week printing on all kinds of glossy papers, from all types of magazines, with or without fixing the toner to the paper.  In the end I had to give up. 

The whole process was very finicky, unreliable, and the results were never reproducible.  Chances that toner transfer will all be just a frustration exercise and a waste of time are very high.

You may want to look for some other DIY PCB method, toner transfer was the worst in my experience.

Offline moffy

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2021, 11:48:12 am »
Thanks for the reply. I had terrible results with my previous Brother printer, useless. But my new Kyocera printer does a fantastic job of the toner transfer onto the special yellow paper. At present I have done two small boards with good detail using just an iron, but I am working on a larger board and really need the laminator. A change of printer has been successful, now the laminator.
 
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Online Bud

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2021, 03:20:36 pm »
Toner transfer method works just fine, however use proper materials, not Playboy magazines. Get a proper kit, Pulsar for one makes them, a transfer paper  and transfer foil.

https://pcbfx.com/main_site/pages/start_here/overview.html

You print the mirrored image on the transfer paper, and run with the board through a heat source, soak the paper off, then run the board again through the heat device but this time with a sheet of transfer foil. The foil will seal all small imperfections in the toner image and result in much better quality than without. I made 8 mil traces with it and could likely do 6 mil if spent time to tweak printer and laminator temperature. I used a unmodified laminator as the heat source.

A kit would cost more than a fancy glossy magazine but it will last for quite a few boards. What is very important in the first place though is the toner quality of the printer used. From my experience using a refilled cartridge never worked, it had to be genuine toner. I used a Samsung printer, do not know about Brother brand.
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Online RoGeorge

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2021, 03:33:16 pm »
Proper toner transfer sheets will cost the same, if not more than photosensitive PCB.  Therefore, why not just use the photo sensitive PCB method?

That would just work no matter what, sometimes cheaper and with no tricky thermal transfer required.   :-//

Offline Skashkash

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2021, 04:04:12 pm »
I've been very successful with toner transfer over the years.
 I've done the majority of the pcbs (hundreds +) on an older industrial badge laminator that I got at a hamfest for dirt cheap.

  This style:   



But that will only handle boards up to about 4" wide. But works very well.


I also have one like this that I've used occasionally for larger boards.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/USI-1200-Laminator-USI-Up-to-12-Paper-heavy-duty-laminator-Tested-100/193858892250?hash=item2d22e3f1da:g:QoAAAOSwpLJgCbxQ


I don't know about suitability of the newer ones. I like the older stuff. Seems to be built heavier and handles thicker material better. You can also open them up and make adjustments or fix them if abused. And I have really abused these things.

 
 

Offline SuzyC

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2021, 04:05:51 pm »
Hints for laminators:

Buy the largest size(the taller, the larger the diam of pressure rollers) home/office use laminator you can find that fits your budget, buy one that is rated for operation continuously and for thick laminations. I found a nice, small, used low-priced office unit on sale for USD 50 that worked great after mods.

Laminators with the largest diam large thermal mass and high laminating pressure rollers work best.  A used quality older laminator bought could be better than the small-size cheaper newer home photo-lam models with small pressure rollers.

The laser printer used to print the artwork should be set for "coarse heavy paper" if possible to get the thickest toner deposited.

1) All unmodified laminators fail to reach a temperature necessary to optimally melt the toner so that is will transfer.

Note most laminators unmodified have one or more electric overtemp cutout switches that must be removed or shorted since they stop any temperature rise above 130 to 140-deg C.

I had to modify each laminator I first experimented with to get it to reach the  higher temperature(180-DegC optimal for toner melt).  I used the thermistor found attached to the heating plate to measure temp and set the right temperature.

I destroyed two cheap laminators before I learned to get a tall unit and then learned how to get hotter, but not meltdown hotter operation.

You must get the laminator to operate at a slightly higher temperature than the toner melt transfer temperature. A few degrees higher will cause the internal gears inside the laminator to soften or melt after many minutes of operation.

I built a MCU circuit to control the temperature by turning on/off the heating element TRiAC or relay and my MCU shows me with a LED when the laminator is ready. I used a thermistor chart to convert the thermistor resisitance reading into actual temperature measured voltage.

You need to set the temperature accurately. If you don't have someway to  measure temperature, like reading the built-in thermistor or thermocouple, you must find a slower way by trial and error to set the lamination temperature high enough to melt toner.

2) After passing through the laminator for several minutes, an ideal paper must be able to easily disintegrate when soaked in water. I have best and consistent success with glossy lightweight photo paper.

Other papers, especially ordinary printer paper or magazine paper will give inconsistent and unexpected results.

The idea here is simple and most important, you need to remove completely the disintegrating paper which is holding the toner to be transferred. You must remove the paper completely and gently so only the toner sticking to the board is all that's left.

3)Board prep: You need to burnish(slightly scratch) the PCB stock with sandpaper to create more surface area(places) on the copper surface for the melted toner to bind to.

4)After sanding the PCB lightly, until you can easily see the fine scratch marks, you must clean the board with iso or denat to remove all dirt, and always use gloves to not allow skin oils to contaminate the board.

5)Before running the PCB through the modified laminator, bend the photopaper around the PCB and into a u-shape over the PCB and make sure the paper is pulled taught and secured on the back of the PCB with masking tape to make the best tight contact to the board.

6)Oversize the photopaper covering the board and fold it so that you can make u-shaped "wings" to fold over the back and bound securely.

7)When placing the PCB into the laminator, always feed the bottom of the u-shape in always first. When the paper emerges on the output tray, immediately take it out and feed in back in again but flip it over vertically top to bottom each pass.

8)After passing through the laminator,  wetsand (using iso or denat) to saturate the back of the photo paper to remove the paper coating to hasten the paper's ability to absorb water and soak. You should easily see the paper turn soggy-looking. After this pre-soak, you can continue soaking in circulating (dripping)warm water. From time to time,  the paper should be gently rubbed with your thumb to tell if the paper is ready to disintegrate into tiny pieces with only  very light rubs of the thumb.

The cause of most failures of toner transfer is in this step is from being impatient and fail to soak the paper until it has become fully soft soggy disintegrated paper pieces.

8)My MCU controlled laminator goes into a warm-temp standby mode with a push of a switch. If you don't have this feature, turn the
laminator off immediately after laminating a PCB  to minimize the change of overheating of the plastic gears to the point they soften and strip and melt.

9) If your attempt fails, you can always clean the toner off with fine sandpaper/steel wool/acetone and you can re-use the board. Be careful to not to use too much sanding pressure and begin to sand off the very thin copper surface on the PCB.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2021, 04:52:02 pm by SuzyC »
 
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Offline KL27x

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2021, 07:49:58 pm »
Quote
Proper toner transfer sheets will cost the same, if not more than photosensitive PCB.  Therefore, why not just use the photo sensitive PCB method?

That would just work no matter what, sometimes cheaper and with no tricky thermal transfer required.   

Lots of reasons that are obvious, if you figure out how to do it. 
1. it's not necessarily "tricky" to do a toner transfer. Compared to exposing and developing, it can be way simpler to do a toner transfer. When the developer gets old, the develop time will get longer. Or you can mix up a fresh batch each time, I suppose. The toner transfer is more consistent/easy if you don't do it regularly.
2. You don't use all of your copper clad board. A lot of it ends up as scrap or trash. Good transfer paper is a dollar fifty a sheet, but you use most of it. And 8.5 x 11" is a lot of area. Also, you might occasional find need for naked copper clad board for ground planes, manhattan style stuff, or simple mechanically created strips/pads.

Quote
1) All unmodified laminators fail to reach a temperature necessary to optimally melt the toner so that is will transfer.

Note most laminators unmodified have one or more electric overtemp cutout switches that must be removed or shorted since they stop any temperature rise above 130 to 140-deg C.

Messing with the laminator temp is not the only way to skin this cat. You could damage the laminator by running it too hot. Plastic gears and frame in most of these things. Excessive temp can cause cumulative damage and premature failure of these parts, even if the heater can handle it. Also, the board acts as a heat sink as it goes through the laminator, so expecting the laminator to be able to properly heat a very large or thick board the same as a small board is not realistic.

I have done this for over a decade, now, by shooting a heat gun on the board as it goes through the laminator. The main thing the laminator does to make your life easier is the silicone rollers. And on this end, many laminators can't handle a full 0.06" thick board. Egging out the holes for the rollers is an essential step if you want to get a full thickness board through such a laminator without stalling/jamming the machine or damaging the drive gears.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2021, 08:07:19 pm by KL27x »
 

Offline moffy

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2021, 01:47:26 am »
Thanks for your responses so far. Thanks to Skashkash for the specific device recommendation (it's a bit narrow for me).
Those of you that use a laminator it would be appreciated if you could specify it, mods done would be great too.
Thanks again for all your advice.
 


Offline moffy

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2021, 12:51:15 am »
Finally tried out my new laminator. Results were excellent, most minor problems were with feeding the same piece of paper through the printer twice. Once for registration then next onto yellow paper partially taped to that page. Will have to revise that.
 

Offline moffy

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2021, 05:56:41 am »
Unfortunately the etched PCB had pinholes. Used HCL/H2O2 very fast very aggressive. Have ordered some Ferric Chloride and some laminator foils. Will also try pre-etching and maybe a heat gun also.
 

Offline Whales

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2021, 11:02:10 am »
Unfortunately the etched PCB had pinholes. Used HCL/H2O2 very fast very aggressive. Have ordered some Ferric Chloride and some laminator foils. Will also try pre-etching and maybe a heat gun also.

How fast is fast?  My latest success has been from using a very strong mix and it takes about 30 seconds at room temperature.  Dramatically reduces my pitting.

If you suspect the issue is flatness/evenness of the toner: perhaps throwing an extra layer of paper into the laminator sandwich could help?

Looking at these laminator options now, I'm having poor luck getting reliable transfers with my existing one  :-+

Online RoGeorge

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2021, 11:19:21 am »
Another method I've read but never tried, try spraying some acetone then let it dry.  That is supposed to dissolve the toner and cover the micro holes.

Others were baking the whole PCB after toner transfer in an oven (no acetone), so the heat will melt the toner and make it fuse even better with the PCB and cover any pinholes.

One dude went even further, printed with an inkjet printer directly on the PCB clad, with nothing but water, then covered the whole PCB with toner dust, then gently shake the toner away.  This will make toner to stick only on the wet areas of the PCB.  Later, bake the PCB in an oven so the toner traces will melt and fuse with the PCB, then etch.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2021, 11:35:53 am by RoGeorge »
 

Offline Skashkash

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2021, 12:42:13 pm »
Re pinholes.
   Seems to just be the nature of the electrostatic transfer process. Hold the printed transfer paper up to a light before laminating.  Larger copper areas tend to be grey, not opaque black.     

   I've tried a lot of ways to get rid of pinholes.  Acetone, TonerBuddy (an expensive spray), hot foil transfer, and others.
 
   From experience, these techniques help me. But nothing totally eliminated it.

     The hot foil does seem to help and it's cheap and quick. Regular craft foil seems to work the same as the expensive stuff, I've used both.
     Running the clad through the laminator again to smear the toner particles slightly.  Different "backer" material can help. 
     Convert large copper planes to hatches if possible.
     Touch up really large bad areas with a sharpie.

     Not noticed that the etching process affects it much. I use ferric chloride or ammonium persulfate.  Have not tried the HCL approach yet.
     Have noticed that very aggressive etchants will etch under the toner from the sides if given enough time.   
       

     But mostly, I just just live with it if it's minor. These are just prototypes (for me). As long as the circuit works, cosmetics don't matter.   
   
   
 
     
   
 
 

Online Bud

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2021, 01:22:32 pm »
Unfortunately the etched PCB had pinholes. Used HCL/H2O2 very fast very aggressive. Have ordered some Ferric Chloride and some laminator foils. Will also try pre-etching and maybe a heat gun also.

There is a product that eliminates the pinholes problem.

https://www.pcbfx.com/main_site/pages/products/toner_foils.html
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Offline tooki

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2021, 02:53:19 pm »
Thanks for the reply. I had terrible results with my previous Brother printer, useless. But my new Kyocera printer does a fantastic job of the toner transfer onto the special yellow paper.
What model?
 

Offline moffy

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #18 on: April 19, 2021, 02:06:37 am »
Thanks guys for all of your recommendations. I will try and answer some of the points raised.
1. Etch speed: Under 1 minute, very aggressive. I think it dissolved some of the thinner toner areas.
2. The toner from the Kyocera is a bit thin in black areas, might try the acetone and or heat.
3. Have ordered foil will try that.
4. Now that I have a really good laminator I am going to try the Brother HL-2132 again.
5. Will also try some ferric chloride as etchant.

Let you know how it goes.
 

Offline moffy

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2021, 06:25:18 am »
I found in the manual for the Kyocera printer I can adjust print density from 1 to 5, it was on 3 and have changed it to 5 and will see how that goes. Density adjustment wasn't in the driver but you have to manually access it through the printer's menu system.
 

Offline moffy

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #20 on: April 21, 2021, 07:35:04 am »
Success! ;D With the extra density of the toner and using Ferric Chloride this time, the board was a complete success. I don't think the Ferric Chloride was essential, I think it was the extra toner that made the difference. Though if I use the HCL/H2O2 the next time I am going to halve its strength. There were a few tiny pinholes in the 60 mil traces, but they were few and far between, not going to compromise conductivity. The thinner tracks and details had no defects at all.
Next time I prep the copper I think I'll use a fine sandpaper like 800 grit.
Cheers to all and thank you for your help. :)
 

Offline Miti

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #21 on: April 21, 2021, 09:35:04 am »
When I was making my own boards, I tried both methods, toner transfer and presensitized boards. I had amazing results with the optical method using an Epson inkjet printer found at the curb side, printing on transparents. I made double sided boards with 10 mil traces. The transparent film made it very easy to align top and bottom, and the cold printing did not stretch the film. Exposure was about 10 minutes each side with a fluorescent bulb, and I used ferric chloride as etchant which lasted for many years. The whole process of making a double sided board was under 2 hours. The hard part was drilling the vias and soldering through wires, then flattening the vias under the components.
Once I discovered PCBWAY and then JLC, I took all the chemicals to a proper recycling centre and stopped messing around.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2021, 09:37:50 am by Miti »
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Online DiTBho

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2021, 12:27:50 pm »
Which is the precision you can achieve? Which is the smallest track you get?
 

Offline moffy

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #23 on: April 22, 2021, 05:42:19 am »
Here is the assembled board(missing 1 connector). It is going to be a 3 axis CNC controller based on grblHAL(I am writing the driver for this board/processor the SEEED ArchMix imxRT1052). I have the 20pin SWD port as well as on board EEPROM(I2C), an SPI port as well as the USB,Serial,LCD,Flash,SDCARD etc of the SEEED module.
With regards to resolution, I don't know, but small pads and traces have excellent detail. I'll find out when I go SMD.
Yeah, drilling holes is a pain, but for prototyping, mainly single sided, I love the DIY approach. The timescales, as you know, go from a week to hours. But for final boards once the design is stable then PCBWay or JLPCB is the way to go. ;)
 
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Offline tooki

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Re: Need Laminator recommendations for Toner Transfer
« Reply #24 on: April 24, 2021, 10:00:00 am »
. The hard part was drilling the vias and soldering through wires, then flattening the vias under the components.
Yep. Drilling holes (for legs you also have to spend time trimming) consumes so much time...

With SMD, where it’s impossible to use protoboard with anything resembling time efficiency, etching a board suddenly has a purpose again IMHO.
 


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