Author Topic: DIY hack - "Direct to copper/pcb" Inkjet Printer  (Read 18914 times)

Gurner

DIY hack - "Direct to copper/pcb" Inkjet Printer
« on: August 31, 2010, 03:34:56 PM »
So having researched this a little, it seems some Epson printers are good candidates for hacking to enable them to print direct onto copper clad board - how cool would that be?!!! (not just for printin tracks onto the copper direct, but for the pcb silkscreen etc - hell if you wana get carried away & take the mod to the nth degree, raise the pint head carraige far enough to allow a stompbox underneath the print head - direct to stompbox printing wooooaaaH!!!!)

So inspired by this page...

http://techref.massmind.org/techref/pcb/etch/c84-st.htm

And this huge thread...

http://www.cnczone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=30951

& the ubiquitous online "hey, look what I did" videos.....  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jncYUwvO7g

I've got myself a 'donor' printer - an Epson C66, [rings hands in mad frantic fashion while raising eyebrows up & down manically]


"Look honey ...a perfectly good condition & functioning inkjet printer...."





"Oops, the sidecheeks have apparently spontaneously been ripped off in a fit of mindless vandalism - quick call the 'Mishandled Inkjet printer Unit"

(after the sidecheeks were ripped off, the case shroud popped off easily enough)



Not sure how much time I'll get to dedicate to this in the short term, so consider this thread a placeholder for those with a passing interest - if there are any updates of note, I'll post some piccies here.
 
« Last Edit: August 31, 2010, 05:12:00 PM by Gurner »

waltk

Re: DIY Direct to copper/pcb Inkjet Printer
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2010, 04:06:41 PM »
I don't want to impinge on your DIY spirit too much (as you obviously enjoy ripping the sides off of poor defenseless printers), but there are Epson printers specifically made to print (labels) directly onto CDs.  There's also a company (http://www.fullspectrumengineering.com/pcbinkjet.html) that makes a special carrier with the outline of a CD, and a rectangular hole for holding pcb material.  They also have special ink that makes a good resist (after you bake it).

therecordingart

Re: DIY Direct to copper/pcb Inkjet Printer
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2010, 04:11:03 PM »
I've been toying with the idea of doing this for a few years now. I can't wait to see more updates!

Gurner

Re: DIY Direct to copper/pcb Inkjet Printer
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2010, 04:31:41 PM »
I don't want to impinge on your DIY spirit too much (as you obviously enjoy ripping the sides off of poor defenseless printers)

Impinge away! (but one false move & the printer 'gets it')

I don't want to impinge on your DIY spirit too much (as you obviously enjoy ripping the sides off of poor defenseless printers), but there are Epson printers specifically made to print (labels) directly onto CDs.  


Hmm......but what happens if your pcb design won't physically fit on a CD 'internal' rectangle?



(ie think ahead, consider potential problems   ...another good example "8 Minute ABS" - (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9mioHO4hoM )


You need to bear in mind ...this printer was free, gratis, zero pence, not one single British poundage of expendiure  ...a recession friendly, credit crunching piece of hardware ....so it hardly needs pointing out  that this particular electro-mechanical ouptut device is in fact a machine 'made of win'.

This will  allow printing onto A4 size copper clad board - just in case at some time in a future fit of boredom I decide to build a whopping 64,000 stage phaser on a floorboard 'mother of stomps'.....each stage with it's own high brightness LED.  ;D
« Last Edit: August 31, 2010, 06:01:06 PM by Gurner »

waltk

Re: DIY hack - "Direct to copper/pcb" Inkjet Printer
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2010, 05:51:22 PM »
Quote
Hmm......but what happens if your pcb design won't physically fit on a CD 'internal' rectangle?

Well, OK then.  Just don't blame me if you get a surprise midnight visit from the Printer Defense League  (and I hear they can be quite harsh on offenders).

Quote
a whopping 64,000 stage phaser on a floorboard 'mother of stomps'.....each stage with it's own high brightness LED.

Now that sounds interesting.  Maybe if you mixed in some high output IR and UV LEDs, you could roast some wienies and get a suntan at the same time.

Perrow

Re: DIY hack - "Direct to copper/pcb" Inkjet Printer
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2010, 06:17:10 PM »
I've tried sourcing an old pen plotter for the same purpose, but had no luck finding one (yet).
My stompbox wiki -> http://rumbust.net

Keep this site live and ad free, donate a dollar or twenty (and add this link to your sig)

Earthscum

Re: DIY hack - "Direct to copper/pcb" Inkjet Printer
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2010, 07:29:58 PM »
Direct to Screen (computer to screen): http://www.allbusiness.com/retail-trade/apparel-accessory-stores/4445096-1.html

Flatbead Printers: http://www.google.com/products?client=ubuntu&channel=fs&q=flatbead%20printers&oe=utf-8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wf

If your ink and substrate don't match, your ink just beads up. Generally, your copper will need some kind of coating for the ink to grab on to. The mechanical conversion is easy as pie, but the ink conversion isn't so easy. Ink pigments are milled down to nM's. If you try to force something with a particle size larger than the jets on the head, you are screwed. Square peg, round hole.

However, you may consider laser printers for this instead: http://www.pbase.com/mark10970/direct_laser_pcbs

Edit to add:
http://hackaday.com/2010/05/04/print-toner-directly-to-a-pcb/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkHpjzOhzxA

Direct writing of copper conductive patterns by ink-jet printing
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6TW0-4MT552G-4&_user=10&_coverDate=07%2F16%2F2007&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_origin=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1446756793&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=a0a262811791e9b1b3344939f3c3ccf5&searchtype=a
« Last Edit: August 31, 2010, 07:34:36 PM by Earthscum »
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Gurner

Re: DIY hack - "Direct to copper/pcb" Inkjet Printer
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2010, 03:10:24 PM »
I went with the easy option - don't dick with the head height & simply feed 0.8mm copper into the printer! (no outlandish hacking needed)...

This is 0.8mm double sided copper....



So the procedure is...

1. Buy a secondhand epson printer that uses durabrite ink (this is pigmented ink & means your 'possible contender' printer is capable of doing direct to copper printing)..

2. Remove just about all the paper feed mechanisms *except* for the friction roller (which pulls the copper through)

3. Relocate the optical sensor to a more appropriate place (this was an earlier test using paper to establish how to spoof the optical sensor)




(that's the optical sensor to the right of picture with the blu-tack holding it in place)

4. Tape a little bit of card to the copper (to spoof the optical sensor that it has found the paper edge)

An then reference this video for the actual feed sequence...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkHpjzOhzxA


About 2 hours work in total (less now that I've done one & therefore know the shortcuts!) ...I'll obviiously put in place a more robust feed mechanism, but at least it proves the point.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 03:16:58 PM by Gurner »

Top Top

Re: DIY hack - "Direct to copper/pcb" Inkjet Printer
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2010, 04:49:17 PM »
Gurner, does removing the paper feed mechanisms eliminate the part of the printer that sends the paper through a curve, or on these printers is there originally no curve to go through? It seems that would be the main thing that would get in the way.

If there was a more immediate way to print on the copper clad, I could see myself getting into PCB making. I've done etching years ago, but it never seemed worth the hassle vs perf or just poking holes in stiff cardboard.

Gurner

Re: DIY hack - "Direct to copper/pcb" Inkjet Printer
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2010, 05:09:13 PM »
Gurner, does removing the paper feed mechanisms eliminate the part of the printer that sends the paper through a curve, or on these printers is there originally no curve to go through? It seems that would be the main thing that would get in the way.

If there was a more immediate way to print on the copper clad, I could see myself getting into PCB making. I've done etching years ago, but it never seemed worth the hassle vs perf or just poking holes in stiff cardboard.

This printer originally had a vertical paper feed rack at the back - so the hack if you like, is to get rid of all that gubbins to allow you to feed the copper in straight (ie paralell to the printer's table)

With all that superfluous stuffout the way, it's then surprisingly easy (there's no hacking of head height etc) .....so long as you use 0.8mm copper clad board (which is easy enough to source) . The ink smudges though so baking is necessary (ironically, not eben sure how much I'll use this method in the light of the baking etc.....it kinda negates the convenience!) - but very fine tracks are definitely obtainable, not sure how this will etch (It's not mine), but shows yoi the possibilities...




I'd say that double sided would be tricky though - ultimately it's a rather crude friction rollerthat pulling the copper through the printer .....& you have to manually offer up the copper board - I doubt you'd get the accuracy.

i'm now pondering installing a flatbed arrangement  (& a stepper at the front) to rest the copper on - if I can find the 'triggers' on the pcb - and have them feed a PIC (which can then drive this front stepper), then this should provide excellent registration for double sided work.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 05:15:13 PM by Gurner »

tommy.genes

Re: DIY hack - "Direct to copper/pcb" Inkjet Printer
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2010, 09:32:00 AM »
I'd say that double sided would be tricky though...

You could print two one-sided boards with proper registration marks, drill through the registration marks and use those holes to accurately laminate the two boards back-to-back.

[edit] You might have to solder some components on both sides of the board, however, since you wouldn't have the benefit of copper through the hole.

-- T. G. --
« Last Edit: September 03, 2010, 09:36:01 AM by tommy.genes »
"A man works hard all week to keep his pants off all weekend." - Captain Eugene Harold "Armor Abs" Krabs

therecordingart

Re: DIY hack - "Direct to copper/pcb" Inkjet Printer
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2010, 11:35:59 AM »
I have an HP D5360 that has a CD/DVD printer tray that is nearly the same thickness as my copper clad stock. These are cheap printers that a crafty hacker may be able to get working. I haven't tried it yet, but plan on it soon.