PCB Etching tutorial

Transferring Toner from paper to board

As shown in the image, cut out excess paper so that it is easy to hold and handle. Place the paper with the printed side on the copper and align it on the board. If required you can use tape so that the paper does not shift. I never had to use it; try it out if you need to.

PCB Circuit Printed on Paper

Turn on your cloths iron and set it to maximum heat and wait for a couple of minutes. No steam please..!

Cloths Iron

Carefully position the iron onto the paper and apply pressure for a couple of seconds (5-10 seconds). Don’t move it. Now slowly and carefully move the iron. Another technique is to use the tip of the iron to heat the center of the board first and then move towards the sides. Keep moving the iron for 2 to 3 minutes.

Apply heat over paper and board

The tracks were visible from the top in the paper I used. It is normal to ignore the sides and later repent. To avoid that, make sure you have heated the entire region of the board so that the toner is easily transferred onto the board.

Drop PCB into water

If you are sure that you have done the brilliant work, drop the board into water and wait (approx. 1 minute) for the paper to get soft. Check and test if you can peel off the paper from the board. If the paper doesn’t accept a defeat, use force. Rub off the paper (if possible under running water) and remove any left over paper from the board.

Peel paper from PCB

As you can see from the image, the paper just peeled off the board without creating a trouble. I used a toothbrush to gently rub off any left over paper between those tracks. You might not see those tiny paper leftovers, but they sure make a mess while etching. So it is better to clean the surface as much as possible.

Paper peeled from copper board

Check if there are any breaks in tracks, or if any tracks have been shorted when they are not supposed to. This is your last chance to set things right. Observe carefully and if you are sure everything is right, proceed to the next step. If you feel that there is something wrong, use thinner/acetone/nail polish remover to remove the toner from the board and repeat the above steps.

PCB cleaned with a toothbrush


Tutorial index:

  1. Introduction to PCB etching using laser printer
  2. Paper Selection
  3. Printer Setup
  4. Preparing the Copper Board
  5. Transfer Toner from Paper to Board
  6. Etching Process
  7. Removing Toner from Board
  8. Drilling
  9. Adding Components & Soldering

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