PCB Toner transfer using nail polish remover without heat

Here we show how you can make your own PCB at home using nail polish remover without applying heat

Have you tried making PCB at home without applying heat and instead use PCB Toner transfer using nail polish remover?

PCB design using toner transfer by applying heat is used commonly for PCB fabrication at home. In this usually one uses the cloth iron or laminator to heat the paper on which the circuit is printed and the copper board assembly to transfer the toner form paper to the copper board. While this technique works there is also an alternative way for the toner transfer called the cold transfer method because no heat is applied. As you perhaps know if you have used the heat toner transfer method, it requires hard work and often you will get burns. Similarly, the copper board may be stretched due to the applied heat. For this hot toner transfer method see the tutorial How to make PCB at home easily.

PCB Toner transfer using nail polish remover without heat

Using the toner transfer without heat for making PCB at home is easy task. You might have heard about this method and you also might have heard that in this method, acetone and alcohol mixture should be used. But it is also possible to use ordinary nail polish remover and alcohol. The nail polish remover contains acetone and other ingredients including oil and chemicals to create good smells. But all the extra chemicals won’t harm the PCB toner transfer.

In the figure below is shown a copper board on which the toner was transferred from glossy paper using ordinary nail polish remover.

PCB Toner transfer using nail polish remover without heat

For this a mixture of 50% nail polish remover and 50% alcohol was used. So the ratio was 1:1. There was no connection broken.

To do this, print your PCB circuit onto a glossy paper. As far as experience is concerned the thinner the glossy paper the better. Then put the mixer of nail polish remover and alcohol onto the cleaned copper board. Quickly place the paper onto the board such that it just touches the board. After letting the toner on the paper interact with the mixture on the board for about 5 to 10 seconds, press gently at first and then press harder onto the paper/board. Press them for about 2 to 4 minutes then dip the assembly into room temperature water. Keep it in water for about 2 to 8 minutes and then peel off the paper. You should get the toner transferred.

Now there are many variables here. The quality of the nail polish remover, the alcohol, the paper thickness, the temperature at which you are working and so on. So there is variation of time for mixture, pressure applied and how long to apply, how long to dip the assembly into water.

From the experience, we can say that you should experiment with creating the mixture that works with your nail polish remover and alcohol. At first use 1:1, if it is working then its good and you can make larger amount of the mixture and put it in safe bottle. Otherwise, increase the proportion of alcohol to 1:2  and so on. Repeat the experiment. Somewhere you will get the right amount and you are ready to go for home made PCB fabrication.

Other examples of PCB made using this method can be seen in the tutorial Home Made RN52 Bluetooth module break out board.

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