Thursday, 23 February 2017

PCB Fab in a Box

A while back we changed printers. It wasn't by choice. But Steve busted up the desktop Dell and made it useless for press-n-peel toner transfer - so we went for a new Xerox 3260. As you'd expect from a Xerox, it works well, even with our cheap Chinese press-n-peel alternative paper.

Well, it did.
Until it got really, really cold recently.
And when trying to do toner-transfer in temperatures of about 10 degrees (it was -4 outside, so ten was positively balmy) we hit a few problems. The image transfer was suddenly really badly pitted - worse than even when we tried to use a (crappy) Brother laser printer!



So Matt suggested using some green film from PCB Fab in a Box. Matt had used the stuff in the past and swore that it would make good even a really badly pitted board. We remained unconvinced. But tried it anyway - running the green film through the laminator about four or five times, just to make sure.



The green transfer wasn't exactly successful - maybe we ran it through the laminator too many times, but the green film stuck in places we didn't really want it to!

So we tried again with some soic-to-DIP breakout boards.
As before, the toner transfer wasn't brilliant - plenty of missing bits in the copper pour areas, which would normally lead to pitting during etching.



So we applied the green film and ran it through the laminiator just twice. The results were  much more favourable this time.



And when the board etched....



... lovely, clean traces. Nice, large areas of copper pour with no pitting. The overall end result knocks spots off our usual toner transfer method. And at £9 for a 15ft length, the green film should last us a good long while, and help us make great looking PCBs for months to come!