Etching Your PCB using Toner Transfer Method

Etching and Soldering your PCB sounds difficult to do if you come to think of it. But with a little help from experienced people around and some videos on YouTube I successfully came through this step with minimal effort.

First off when buying a glossy paper I would recommend a single sided one, because the double-sided glossy paper smells really bad during ironing. I think it is also bad for your health if you inhaled that burnt plastic stuff so opt to buy the single-sided one.

After your design has been printed on a glossy paper cut the excess paper and place it face-down on the PCB with the ink touching the copper plate. I recommend ironing on wood with a layer of newspaper and bond paper. Also make sure that the iron is at MAX before ironing it.

Starting at one side, slowly but surely iron the paper towards the other side. If you feel that the paper stuck through the copper plate push the iron at the middle and hold it for about 5 seconds.

One technique that worked for me is pressing the tip of the iron along the lines or the connections like you're sketching your design using the tip of the iron. I noticed that if you can see the outline of your circuit at the top it means that you're doing it right. Continue till you can see it clearer.

Once you're confident that the ink will stick on the copper plate (or better yet have a spare PCB just to make sure) immerse it in water and let it cool, then slowly peel off the paper.

Scrape off the excess paper with your fingers till the circuit is free from unnecessary paper, this is important because it may cause problems at the etching process.

Your PCB is now ready for etching. For this step we'll need two containers, some hot water and Ferric Chloride solution. 

When buying Ferric Chloride I recommend the one that is already a solution (liquid) instead of the powder one. In my experience (and my friend's) with these two the solution etched significantly faster compared to the powdered one.

I saw this video about etching and his technique on placing a hot water below the container with the Ferric Chloride solution made the etching process even faster. Check it out below.

And that's it you're now finished on Etching your PCB! On the next post we'll talk about soldering and some maintenance tips on using your soldering iron properly.

If you have some questions or suggestions about Etching feel free to comment below!