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Author Topic: Best method of making PCB .. Toner tarnsfer or Photoresist or what .. help?  (Read 35111 times)
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ktek
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« Reply #75 on: October 21, 2010, 07:20:03 07:20 »

Ok Ok Mario

I agree with you

In past  I made   own  cs, but I do not say how many dresses  damaged  from acid
and then  considering  the lost time, drilling, manual jumping vias, etc

actually with more few  euros  I have a very professional result
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ChaosReigns
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« Reply #76 on: December 22, 2010, 07:38:41 07:38 »

Step by step instructions along with pics. Hope this helps somebody.

http://www.riccibitti.com/pcb/pcb.htm
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Magnox
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« Reply #77 on: December 25, 2010, 08:27:01 20:27 »

I found that making the kit required for photoresist-style PCB making was part of the fun. I suppose it depends on whether one is mostly a hobbyist or serious student/professional though. I've always been a hobbyist, so the extra time required to make my own boards and fact that I can do everything myself, and save money, is appropriate. If I wanted to publish anything I would probably have a board made.

Anyway, I've tried most of the available methods and find making a transparency with a laser printer and using a pre-sensitized board the best for fine pitch. I can reliably do down to 0.5mm tqfp double sided. I've used Brother, Oki and now an HP laserjet printer, all with good results on laserstar film. I made a double-sided UV exposure box from thin wood and a heated bubble etching tank from acrylic sheet, an aquarium air pump and a chain of power resistors in heat shrink tubing.

For etching I much prefer ammonium persulphate to ferric chloride. It's much cleaner and easier to see how etching is progressing.

For larger scale stuff, i.e. nothing smaller than 0.1" (maybe with a single trace between i.c. pins) then I print onto glossy photo paper and do the iron-it-on and soak-it-off trick with an iron. That works OK, but not perfectly.

I did buy a high temperature (180 Celcius) laminater that can take 1.6mm thick material, but it takes so many passes through that it's quicker to just use the clothes iron!

Plated though holes are possible by using PCB repair kits like the Copperset tubes. A bit fiddly to do but with care they work perfectly. These days I stick to SMD parts as much as I can though; it's much easier.
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night_mare
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« Reply #78 on: February 11, 2011, 04:35:46 16:35 »

Here is my one......
I ve use "Readers Digest" magazine Paper  Grin
Its work very well for me  Cheesy
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« Reply #79 on: February 14, 2011, 09:17:19 09:17 »

I'm using the sticker paper backing......the yellow one and I get amazing result!





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bigmaurizio
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« Reply #80 on: March 27, 2013, 09:55:18 21:55 »

Photoreist is the better, but not fast and more expensive. Toner transfer using photo paper (for ex. hp glossy is economic and work very well) is good too, but less resolution and maybe hard to make a good pcd for smd devices. I usually use toner transfer for double layer, photoresist for single layer. To etching a mix of 20% solution HCl  and 9% solution H2O2, it's very fast, clean and economic
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« Reply #81 on: April 07, 2013, 03:07:36 03:07 »

I already tried with dry-film (from ebay) and the toner transfer method. I use a cheap Scotch laminator (TL901) that I bought from Amazon.

Both works fine, as soon as you learn how to work with then. For instance, with this laminator and the transfer method, printing with a Xerox printer, I have to pass the board about 20 to 25 times in the laminator to guarantee that the toner will fully transfer to the board.

On the other hand, I had some problems with bubbles when applying the dry-film. But carefully working with it and the bubbles were gone.

Definitively the dry-film have a better resolution.
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pickit2
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« Reply #82 on: May 28, 2019, 12:26:15 12:26 »

old topic seen this  no heat toner transfer
https://youtu.be/cVhSCEPINpM
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ratovarius
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« Reply #83 on: May 28, 2019, 01:02:58 13:02 »

Good method! I didn't know about it!
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« Reply #84 on: May 28, 2019, 01:54:24 13:54 »

I'm doing some experiments with the UV-curable paint usually used for protecting PCB tracks (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvU2yyfH-XE) for making a PCB  by using a cheap UV oven (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QDpAUkfjY8).  This seem to work no so bad but I need further tests. In alternative the Heat tone trasfer with laser-printed ink on copper works very well, maily when I use magazine paper.
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« Reply #85 on: May 28, 2019, 05:47:25 17:47 »

I always use UV PCB method. you can get the highest quality in that method. also all methods (Except milling) require some sort of Ferric-chloride or similar for etching. So there is no reason why people don't use this method.

you can make your own exposure box using old scanner
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« Reply #86 on: May 28, 2019, 06:14:42 18:14 »

I think most nail polish removers are acetone based. Apparently there are non-acetone based ones that use methyl acetate (easier on skin?). The one in the video does not say "non-acetone", so I'm guessing it is acetone based.
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Parmin
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« Reply #87 on: June 03, 2021, 11:38:51 23:38 »

Jumping into this topic once more time Smiley
Lately I have been getting PERFECT results by using my laser engraver.

The technique is very simple:
1. coat the blank PCB with engineering blue (dykem) or cheap spray paint from dollar store   - try to get thin and even coating, the thinner the better)
2. Use a laser engraver to burn the paint off the part you wish to etch (I use either my CO2 but you can also use a cheap 10 watt diode engraving machine)
3. etch the exposed board.

I managed to get quite consistent 0.1mm lines and separation with this method with dykem coating.

Cheers - happy trying.
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Vineyards
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« Reply #88 on: June 04, 2021, 01:37:51 01:37 »

I opted for a mini CNC from China many years ago thinking that it would be the best solution. Ever since that time, I have been working to make that solution work but I haven't lost my hope in any way.
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optikon
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« Reply #89 on: June 04, 2021, 02:46:18 02:46 »

I opted for a mini CNC from China many years ago thinking that it would be the best solution. Ever since that time, I have been working to make that solution work but I haven't lost my hope in any way.

I have a desktop 3018 and can get consistent, clean results. what trouble do you have?
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REZA
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« Reply #90 on: August 25, 2021, 01:07:15 13:07 »

1) wash your board and clean it
2) print your pcb in glass paper
3) put it your paper on board and with ironning it
4) next put ypur board nad paper to cold water
5) after 2 or 3 minute dig your paper slowly but just becarefull Smiley
6) after with nail clean it very carefully
7) put it in acid and shake it
Cool when it finished you can pick up your board and wash it
9) then you must drills the pad but carefull
10) the last step solderring the board
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« Reply #91 on: June 01, 2022, 10:29:36 10:29 »

I have used just about every method here, some with great results. I always used chemical tinning afterwards for best results. But when I started using 100 pin FQP and other surface mount stuff you cannot fault Press 'n Peel. I generally print the pcb centered on a sheet of paper then cut a piece of film about 20mm larger all round. I use a laser label or two to hold the film to the paper (centered over the print) then print on the laser printer. The results are very good if you iron it correctly. I always use fine wet and dry paper, it gives a far better finish than wire wool etc. especially if you are goin to plate the tracks.
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Xwing
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« Reply #92 on: June 01, 2022, 11:20:13 11:20 »

I have used just about every method here, some with great results.

In all fairness, thinking of building pcbs at home in 2022 is not a very wise thing, especially when it comes to pcbs with high-density pin density smd components.
There are various Chinese services that produce excellent pcbs at very low prices in 48 hours, e.g. from JLCPCB 5 pcb 100x100 mm cost only 2 Euro, made in double-sided, solder and silk-screen printing, with tracks and insulation up to 6 mil, pcb contouring for any shape.

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kreutz
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« Reply #93 on: June 01, 2022, 03:30:39 15:30 »

Check this: https://www.instructables.com/Photoresist-Dry-Film-a-New-Method-of-Applying-It-t/
and this: https://hackaday.com/2021/12/28/uv-printing-pcbs/
Note: With a newer 4K screen models it is not necessary to remove the glass, look for 35x35 um pixel size 4k mono lcd screen. Larger sizes screens are 50x50 um pixel sizes

Making pcbs at home is the fastest way to get from idea to prototype testing, or proof of concept, before your inspiration dries up waiting from your pretty pcb from China. Some are happy with a simulator until reality hits them.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2022, 03:36:47 15:36 by kreutz » Logged
Xwing
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« Reply #94 on: June 01, 2022, 04:08:54 16:08 »

From the moment I send the gerbers to the service in China to when I receive the pcbs, on average only 5 days pass.
I am not a youngster and in the past I have made many pcbs by myself, starting with the use of the appropriate inks with nib and stencil, with the transfers, ending with the photoengraving using film and UV, ending with laser printing on paper and hot transfer on copper.
The problem is always the same, very small tracks never look good, the double face with metallic vias is a utopia, especially if you work with high density smd.
Obviously, each of us is free to choose the path to follow, but not taking advantage of the solutions that technology makes available to us easily at low costs is not a wise thing.
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Frez
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« Reply #95 on: June 01, 2022, 10:29:48 22:29 »

Yes, companies such as PCGOGO supply PCB's quicjkly and cheaply. But when you need to make a small breakout board on a Friday to mount your lastest smd device for that urgent project.... It is better to at least have the ability to do so considering it taks about 30 miniutes.
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kreutz
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« Reply #96 on: June 02, 2022, 02:58:58 14:58 »

DIY vs PCB houses, it all comes to TIME. How many days from your first pcb design to your third pcb's revision? DIY approach will take hours or a couple of days, PCB house will take several weeks. COST is less with the PCB house approach, and QUALITY: don't even have a talk about it.
If you want your prototype to look professional, then send the pcb design files to the PCB house only after you have corrected all the design problems on the DIY boards, it saves weeks of waiting time until the end of project.
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optikon
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« Reply #97 on: June 03, 2022, 12:19:25 00:19 »

DIY vs PCB houses, it all comes to TIME. How many days from your first pcb design to your third pcb's revision? DIY approach will take hours or a couple of days, PCB house will take several weeks. COST is less with the PCB house approach, and QUALITY: don't even have a talk about it.
If you want your prototype to look professional, then send the pcb design files to the PCB house only after you have corrected all the design problems on the DIY boards, it saves weeks of waiting time until the end of project.


Yes, this.

Of course we know PCB houses can be cheap and for some people a couple of days is *fast*..  Roll Eyes but for me, I like to prototype ideas quickly and iterate through them very quickly.. so with DIY, I can do that in one *afternoon* and it is cheap as well. So DIY PCB ** Definitely ** has  place in the shop even in 2022 and can't be beat for speed.

and then .... after I get proto circuits working well enough, I might polish it up and do a more complex prototype with a Chinese PCB.

« Last Edit: June 03, 2022, 12:22:02 00:22 by optikon » Logged

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mars01
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« Reply #98 on: June 03, 2022, 08:11:28 20:11 »

I think people that advise to get PCB's from China don't understand that nothing beats something that is done by yourself.

Because:
1. It is deeply satisfying
2. As already told it allows a much faster process to get a working prototype.


Obviously this is a real market since there are companies that make equipment's that allow having PCB's done in the office (at home).

Besides. The OP question imply that it is about something belonging to DIY area.

Here I am going to enumerate all the DIY methods of making PCB's that I am aware of.

1. Toner transfer using a laser printed PCB pattern on a substrate (either paper - IKEA catalog works best Smiley or vinyl).
The limitations of this method is that it require uniform heat/uniform pressure and good quality toner, in order to get the best results. And very good results can be obtained without much bother.
a) The transfer is done by applying heat. Some use an household iron but the best results (impeccable results for as low as 7 mils trace width, or less) is by using a laminator modified to allow the thickness of the PCB. When using heat, the used temperature depends of the kind of toner that is used. About 180C for HP toner and more (up until 205C) for Brother, Kyocera, Xerox printers.

Pay attention to how much toner you use when printing. It is desired to have as much as possible (set in the printer settings) but once you get to under 10mils traces you need to be careful because too much toner will be pushed to the sides and may create short-circuits.

a2) Some use professional toner transfer paper (like the one from Pulsar) but I never had the need to use it, not when the Ikea catalog sheets works so great (100% transfer when used with a HP LaserJet 1022 with original toner and transferred at 190C using a laminator - I have this one: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32866074378.html).

b) Some do transfer the PCB pattern from the laser-printed paper using acetone. They wet the paper with acetone (or the PCB laminate, or both) and then the sheet of paper (vinyl) is pressed onto the PCB laminate until the acetone evaporate and the toner is transferred.

Due of limitations of how the laser printing is done, there may be a need for a post-process step involving a so-called "toner blackener" that will be sprayed over the printed PCB pattern to fuse together the toner and remove small spaces between dots. Here are used some commercial sprays (like Takter 330) or simply spraying "white spirit" solvent (stink) over the paper that holds the PCB pattern.

After transfer you need to remove the paper substrate (vinyl is removed much easier) by immersion in moderate-hot water (with a bit of soap). Clean the traces (especially between them) of the residual paper or it may create issues when etching.

After etching the toner can be removed by using acetone.

2. UV transfer
This is the so-called professional way to make PCB's, it is the most involved and will take a lot of time (about 2 hours from start to the end results, etched PCB).
The limitations of this method are that you need a perfect printed mask, any imperfections are transferred to the PCB.
a) positive transfer - means that what you print on the film mask (the opaque regions) is what you get on the PCB laminate after UV exposure. All the UV sensitive stuff that is exposed to UV light will be softened and removed after the developing step.
b) negative transfer - using the negative photosensitive UV film  found on Aliexpress, what you print and is opaque on the printed film will be removed after etching. This means that everything touched by the UV light will be hardened (will survive to the developing step) and all that is hidden from the light will be removed after the developing step.

The steps are:
 - print (laser or inkjet) onto a transparent medium. If using laser, the heat will deform slightly the film if using acetate transparent sheet. Try to compensate when printing (Sprint Layout software has a nice GUI but it has issues when loading Gerber files generated by some software like Altium - the ground plane is covering everything). Some laser print on tracing paper but I found that sometime the toner will not stick correctly and leave some gaps which are annoying because then the PCB needs corrections.

If using inkjet, it require the usage of pigment ink (not dye inks) to get the required degree of opaqueness. Some print them in double and overlap them one over the other to increase de opacity. Some fill all the colors with black ink (I do that).
- clean the PCB laminate. I start by using fine sandpaper to promote better adhesion. After that use some Unilever CIF (household cleaning stuff, the one with bleach and crystals - works best) to remove the oxides and greases. Fingers have a lot of grease on them so if you know you can't do without, use gloves.

Also, when printing with the laser, it will benefit if using a toner density spray (like Takter 330 or the like) it increases a lot the opacity (no longer the need to print in double the pattern).
- laminate the photosensitive film if using the negative transfer. This can be done dry or wet. The dry method involved applying the UV-film sheet to a the PCB using a laminator set at about 108C. Sometime the film is sticky (especially if old) and for larger PCB patterns the curvature (it come rolled) can get in the way because once it touch itself (after removing the thin layer that exposes the sticky side) it glue to itself and you need to repeat the process.

The wet method involves spraying a mist of distilled water (not too much) over the cleaned PCB laminate followed by applying the film by hand. It gives you some time to get it right, you can remove the already applied film a few times in order to make sure that there are no bubbles of air caught here and there. Then starting from the center with gentle moves, press the water out to the sides. Once the film is applied and there are no bubbles, put it through the laminator (108C) a few times.

I find that it is better to do this laminating step a few more times after I decide I should be over.

When using positive transfer either you get pre-made PCB sensitized o UV laminates or you need to spray yourself the stuff onto a PCB laminate by using special sprays. This is messy and it also is hard to get a homogeneous layer which matter when doing the exposure.
- UV exposure - apply the printed film (UV mask) over the sensitized PCB laminate, the printed part should be oriented toward the PCB, toward the copper sheet. This way the mask is as close to the sensitive UV film and therefore minimize the light spread under the mask. When using the Chinese photosensitive film, it is better not to overexpose, it is actually better to slightly underexpose. When exposing using an A4 board covered with one of those 5 meter UV LED strip - Aliexpress/Ebay - I found that about 20 seconds exposure is OK.

I say slight underexposure because after exposure, you need to be patient and wait about 10 minutes for the polymerizing process to finish. Leave the exposed board covered for about 10 minutes until the next step and you are good to go.

- develop the exposed PCB - you may need to remove a thin sheet of plastic over the now exposed PCB if you used the negative photosensitive film. For the negative film a solution of 9 grams of sodium carbonate (warning: not the sodium bicarbonate you get in the kitchen) to 1 liter of water will do the trick. One can make sodium carbonate from sodium bicarbonate by heating it in the oven for a time. Look on the YouTube/Internet for the process (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpGEc-pLXN4).

For the positive film PCB's a 10g of sodium hidroxide (NaOH) to one liter of water should be enough. Others use the sodium metasilicate pentahydrate (About 100 grams to one liter of water from what I've read but I never used it).

Use a brush to speed up the process (if you are lazy like me and don't want to heat the solution to about 30C as it is recommended) and brush continuously to remove the gunk that is forming when the photosensitive stuff is attacked by the developer solution) and exposing the lower layers.

When you see that all is developed insist for another minute or so to make sure that the transparent stuff that may still be there is removed. It is interesting how a very very thin layer can still protect the copper, of course it depends on the kind of etching solution you are using.
- etch the PCB board using chemical reagents

3. Direct laser printing
You can use:
- A 3D printer with a laser head
- a CNC machine with a lser head
- dedicated laser cutter machine with a laser head, the ones without an enclosure

Make sure you have a UV sensitized PCB laminate. I will talk about one covered with negative photosensitive film (made like indicated above) but you can adapt this for the per-sensitized positive PCB laminates.
Make sure you use a laser head that is not too powerful. The more powerful Laser LED diodes do not have a round dot but a square or worse, a rectangle. The 400mW Laser diodes should be OK.

Create a GCode that will cover the areas that will have to be sensitized by the laser light (the traces, pads, regions etc).
This can be done by either:
- rasterize a picture (BMP, JPG, PNG) at real size of the PCB (check LightBurn software).
- make sure you focus the laser beam the best you can and get an idea of how wide is the beam dot
- vectorize the Gerber features using software like Vectric or FlatCAM (beta version has those features) using a suitable feedrate and the dot dimension as tool width

The steps:
- expose the PCB pattern on the PCB UV-sensitized laminate
- develop the PCB like above
- etch the PCB board using chemical reagents
Or:
- paint the PCB with normal black paint and let it dry
- use a more powerful laser beam to create isolation paths inside the paint by burning the paint where the laser beam touches the PCB laminated. It may need a slower feedrate to allow for cutting into the paint.
- etch the PCB using chemical reagents.
Note: this can be used to create soldermasks too.


4. Direct printing using a modified printer.
This require to mechanically modify a printer such that the "paper" will travel in a linear way. Some modified a laser printer and made it to print toner directly on the PCB laminate.
Some others modified inkjet printers using a special ink that acted as a resist when etching (some yellow ink is reported to work).

There is also a UV ink that can be printed by Epson inkjet printers (they use a reusable head with piezo elements) and then can be hardened by UV exposure. This needs to be looked up as to how high the PH needs to be for removal of the stuff after etching

5. Use a CNC machine (or 3D printer) to guide a marker with a suitable tip diameter and plot the PCB pattern onto a PCB laminate. The CNC GCode can be obtained from FlatCAM (using the so-called Paint functionality) or from the Inkscape GCode plugin.

6. Mechanical isolation (aka scratching). This is done by scratching the copper layer and creating islands of copper to act as traces and pads.
The limitations are that it creates dangerous dust of glass particles that are so fine that can cross the blood barrier in the lungs and get into the blood). It is also a very long (and boring) process but the results can be unexpectedly good. The up side is that it does not involve long steps and chemicals.

The most primitive way is to manually scratch the copper layer using a sharp tool (either a needle of a knife/cutter).
The advanced way is to use a CNC machine (3D printer) to actually go around and isolate each trace using special milling bits (V-bits or pyramid-shape bits or the most advanced and expensive spiral milling bits with diameters of 0.1mm or greater).

To get the GCode to guide the milling bit you can use the following software:
- venerable CopperCAM (paid software)
- Inkscape plugin
- AntFarm new software: https://github.com/TheAntTeam/TheAntFarm
- FlatCAM: https://bitbucket.org/jpcgt/flatcam/downloads/

PS:
When doing chemical etching some do it using one of the following chemicals to remove the excess copper:
- ferric chloride - nasty stuff, stains anything it touches and in time it degrades. Needs a bit of temperature to accelerate the process and shaking (air bubble mixing) helps a lot.
- sodium persulphate, amonium persulphate - slow process, the stuff is not stable for long after it is mixed in water (it comes as a solid), only for a few days. Needs about 50C temperature or the process is simply to slow.
- a mix of hydrochloric acid and peroxide (hydrogen peroxide) - fast process, needs to be slowed down if you have fine PCB features by diluting with water. I use (when in hurry) about 2 part hydrochoric acid, 2part peroxide (depending on how concentrated is the stuff, for 3% found in pharmacy use 2 parts) and 3 or more parts ordinary water.
You see if you need more peroxide if the copper is not turning to brown color immediately after immersion in the solution of the PCB laminate in the exposed copper areas. Add more peroxide.
If the copper is turning brown color but you don't see bubbles of gas developing then add more acid. Slowly, do not splash. Use glasses or you might remain without eyesight,
- some use nitric acid . Nasty stuff, I still have a healed mark of a small hole in my left arm from since I played with it. Nasty and toxic fumes, burns almost anything except aluminum.
- BEST: use the copper chloride. Requires maintenance (hydrochloric acid and peroxide added from time to time) but you can basically use it forever and it is gentle with the underside etch.

Ok, I hope I covered everything. Took a while to write this huge post, I hope it will help someone.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2022, 09:03:59 21:03 by mars01 » Logged
kripton2035
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« Reply #99 on: June 04, 2022, 09:22:45 09:22 »

the best method for me today would be to etch directly the copper using a 20-30W fiber laser
fast and no chemical, only need a well ventilated place, ... and $2000 !
otherwise I wouldn't bother and use a cheap pcb company, or if I need double sided complex board.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dQzufH8FEQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU7iKe2trIw
« Last Edit: June 04, 2022, 09:26:11 09:26 by kripton2035 » Logged
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