I used to design my PCB using one of the free pcb design software available on the website and then using the toner transfer method with an electric iron tried to transfer the toner from the paper to the printed circuit board. I must say that the end results were pretty good but not too good so I decided to find another way of transfering the toner. After long searches on the internet I heard about the PCB laminator and how a lot of people use it with great success. Click here to jump to the video presentation.
So I decided to buy a cheap laminator to test it and I chose the $25 Attalus 400 from Ebay. Unfortunately this model is not produced anymore but you can buy other brands.
I advice you to buy a cheap model because you’ll have to change its thermostat for sure. For example the Attalus couldn’t reach a sufficient temperature to allow the toner to transfer (it reached only 80°C) so I had to disassemble it and replace the original KSD301-110 thermostat with a new one that can operate at higher temperatures.
I bought the BT-H200R thermostat which disconnects the power to the heater resistor that heats the metal plates inside the laminator when its temperature reaches 200°C and then reconnects the power when the temperature is below 160°C. In this case the average temperature of the metal plates is in theory around 180°C but I never measured above 140°C which is kind of the required temperature (~150°C).
It was pretty easy to disassemble it and replace the original thermostat and I am pretty sure you can make it too if you decide to make your own PCB laminator that will ease you life for sure (I know it worked for me!).
I will now let you watch a 15 minutes video that shows how it works and the end results which are kind of impressive for a first time test.
Forward to 6:40 if you want to see it disassembled.
For better results make sure to repeat the process of PCB lamination (at least 10 times) to ensure that the toner is properly transferred to the copper.
Be aware that if you decide to buy one it might be difficult to replace the components that adjust the temperature. This is why I bought the cheapest laminator on the market and you should probably do the same thing! You can buy some models that work without any modifications: APACHE AL13P and Swat LMP-330.