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Old 22nd February 2007, 04:27 AM   #1
SuperH is offline SuperH  United States
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Default Custom PCB manufacture question - toner transfer issues...

Hey everyone,

I'm currently making PCBs for a senior design project but I'm having a bit of an issue.

I have a recently-purchased Brother HL-2040 laser printer. I have been attempting the toner transfer method (with an iron) to no avail. The toner simply stays stuck to the paper. The toner comes off fine when I use my friend's Samsung printer. I've tried multiple papers, from satin to gloss.

I think the fuser may be working too well but I'm not sure. There's really no way to adjust the settings. I've tried to set the paper type to "transparency" to see if I could improve things, but alas, it didn't work. I've tried 1200dpi, as well as 600dpi with "toner save" off. Does anyone have any ideas on why my printer won't work but his will, using the exact same process? Does anyone have any experience with this issue and Brother printers? Thanks so much in advance! I appreciate it!
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Old 22nd February 2007, 10:43 AM   #2
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This is the only page I found that mentions problems with toner transfer and your printer:

Quote:
4. "Brother" brand toner-density printing problems

After 17 years of making PCB's we have never run across a "bad" printer. Yes there have been those that need some special "tweeking" to get the density of the toner up to par, but never a report of a useless printer for our purposes of making PCB's. Well, that was up until now.

Recently (starting in late '05), we have been getting problem reports with the Brother brand of their newer 1,200dpi printer line. The specific model numbers are listed below. If you have one of these listed printers there is an option or alternative method you might want to consider. Canon makes some very inexpensive "briefcase-sized" copiers that are terrific to have around the house. Everybody would love to have one but sometimes hard to justify... well, consider the copier as your way out of this "toner density" problem. These copies work great to reproduce your Brother (or any other laser or inkjet printer). All you do is slide the 'contrast' control up a bit and run the TTS transfer paper through the copier for a great image to start making your PCB.

BROTHER MODELS:

> HL-2040
> HL-1240
> HL-1440
Would be nice to see an explanation why though... Have you tried a higher temperature iron, or maybe running the paper through the printer twice?
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Old 22nd February 2007, 11:10 AM   #3
SuperH is offline SuperH  United States
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Darn it! Thanks.

I plan to manually refill the toner cartridge. Once I run out, that will be step 1.
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Old 22nd February 2007, 04:08 PM   #4
Fenris is offline Fenris  United States
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My little $70 Samsung ML-1440 does a great job, I've made dozens of PCBs with it. You might want to invest in a different printer or just resign yourself to having to use someone else's printer. I'm not sure what the Brother's problem is, but apparently it's consistent through its xx40 range of printers.
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Old 22nd February 2007, 04:38 PM   #5
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I'd like to chime in here if I may and perhaps either straighten a few things out or complicate matters. I have a Brother 730 laser printer I purchased some years ago and did not initially intend to make pcb's from it, but later picked up on the fact it might be a possibility. Well, I still have not gotten to it even after all this time but have poked my nose into the pcb process every now and then when it suits me. So, here's what I have so far: The printer appears to be razor sharp to the eye, producing immaculate lines and text. However, under magnification, I do indeed see the dot formation, and can see where others may have had problems with toner xfer from this. Now, this is providing the drum is in new shape, as I have worn out one drum already and can see where a worn one would just really mess the toner method up. I have also read where some people have stated that copying the transfer twice helps. I would assume that the second pass would rely on the copy being just a little askew from the 1st pass to cover things up. I have not tried this for testing but it makes sense. This Brother printer is rated at 600dpi, which makes me wonder how the Samsung ML-1440 600dpi printer does what it does. Perhaps there is something in Brother's toner formulation that makes toner transfer a bit more difficult here, but the dot formation makes me wonder about it all even more at 600dpi, providing all 600dpi units are the same. Perhaps they are not. I have etched pcb's with hand layouts and can reaffirm the difficulties in the process and that any mistakes come through loud and clear. I would suspect that my Brother laser printer would not produce the results I would want in a pcb, but it's just a projected guess at this point knowing what I know about pcb's. I'd really like to eventually start producing pcb's but would like to get it right without having to go through all the trouble so many have already gone through. I guess doing this stuff by hand has given me enough of a head's up to know what questions to ask and what to look for.
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Old 22nd February 2007, 06:33 PM   #6
SuperH is offline SuperH  United States
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The problem is major with the xx40 series printers.

0% of the toner transfers over. As matter of fact, if you stick the iron on the paper toner side facing the iron, the toner still stays on the paper. It is great for document reliability!

The brother looks razor sharp -- in fact, I would have loved using that printer for text. But alas, I have decided to get an HP 1020 printer which I know will work.
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Old 22nd February 2007, 07:05 PM   #7
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that's kind of the way I feel about my Brother. The text is very good and I do print more often than not. No complaints at all. But, I'd get another printer if needed to do pcb's when the time comes. I'd also think about getting a 1200 dpi one, but it may not be necessary based on the input here and what others have experienced. Guess I'll keep posted as usual.


SuperH - keep us posted. I'm sure there is always interest by people like me.
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