I am attempting to modify a laser printer to print toner directly to copper clad board. I'm quite excited about it, because it could be better than quite a few things...

  • Better than photolithography because it doesn't use presensitized board, so it's cheaper, but more importantly all the dodgy imaging steps that often go wrong are not involved.
  • Better than toner transfer because it doesn't involve any of that dodgy ironing and soaking business.
  • Better than direct inkjet printing because the toner doesn't require baking to be etch-resistant and the board hopefully won't need to be sanded or pre-etched.

The only chemical step will be the etch, which is ok because that never goes wrong. Until I introduce through-plating, of course!

Most exciting of all, however, is the possibility that one day I'll be able to click "print" from my CAD software and a bit of board will be sucked into a printer, selectively coated in high-resolution etch resist (toner), and dropped into an etch tank automatically.

As far as I can tell, nobody has attempted this with a laser printer before. Initial results are promising, and it's difficult to stop thinking about a completely automated PCB-fabricating utopia!

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