PCB Prototypes in Minutes

As the technology advancement in PCB Prototypes and Prototyping becoming more in the last few years, the old methods of using photo-resist  developer and ultra violet light has been now confined to mass production of PCB. Electronics hobbyists and students will definitely welcome the use of PCB transfer film in the making of simple PCB Prototypes.

There are many companies that are supplying this film, but the author's favorite is using Press-n-Peel from Techniks Inc, New Jersey.

In a few short steps you can produce your own PCB Prototypes in minutes using Press-n-Peel PCB Transfer Film. Press-n-Peel offers you the ability to take magazine or computer generated PCB layouts, and either photocopy or laser print them onto the Press-n-Peel Film, and subsequently transfer that image onto copper clad printed circuit board material by using an iron. Peel off the layer and etch the board in ferric chloride and you have a high quality printed circuit board in minutes.

The steps below illustrates the simplicity of this PCB Prototypes method.

1) Photocopy or Laser Print circuit image onto the dull side (emulsion) of Press-n-Peel Image Transfer Film.

Prepare: Clothes Iron, Steel Wool #00 (or SOS/Brillo with all the soap washed out), Packaging Tape,Photocopy or Laser Printed Circuit Image.

2) Cut Press-n-Peel, leaving a 1/4" border around the circuit image. Cut board to size. Clean copper board with steel wool, S.O.S. or Brillo pads. Rinse cleaned board with soap and water. Be sure to remove all soap residue. Dry thoroughly with lint-free cloth. Be sure to scrape any burrs that appear on the edge of the board that may have resulted from the cutting/shearing process. Burrs tend to keep the iron from making solid contact with thePress-n-Peel Film.

3) Place Press-n-Peel with image face down onto clean copper board. Iron the Press-n-Peel Film to the board a peice of plain paper between the iron and the film to reduce friction. Temperature setting on the iron is critical, and dependant upon your laser printer or photocopier. Suggested starting temperature is 275-325 degrees F. Iron setting is generally "polyester". Iron temperatures vary. Iron until board has completely and fully reached the temperature of the iron. Time varies with the size and thickness of the board. Generally this is 1.5 to 10 min. DO NOT USE THE STEAM SETTING!

4) Quench the board/film combination under cold running water. Peel the film off. To remove small "fills" in between traces and "filled donuts", cover the imaged copper board with clear packing tape, and then remove. This will pull all unwanted filled areasoff the board.

5) After removing "fills", trim the board (if necessary) to the final size. Wash the board in soap & water before etching to remove surface oxidation . Etch with Ferric Chloride (Note: Techniks does not sell PCB etching supplies -- available through local electronic supply stores & Radio Shack)

6) Using steel wool, scrub the Press-n-Peel image off as to reveal copper traces. This is best done under running water. Suggestion: Do not do this until your ready to drill and populate the board. The Press-n-Peel transfer resist protects the board from oxidation. 

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