• Register
  • Login
  • 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.

    Attalus pcb laminator

    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).

    KSD301 BT-H200R thermostats

    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.

    Video presentation of the working PCB Laminator

    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.

    
    subscribe to newsletter

    12 Responses to "PCB Laminator"

    1. Nice Information.Thanks for sharing this interesting tip!

    2. Richard Knight says: on January 23, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      Hi, this is one of the best ideas I have seen simple and effective.
      Just one question what sort of special paper do you use.
      Kind regards Richard

    3. Very nice. Thanks for posting. I have experimented also with the iron and toner transfer. If there is no access to the special transfer paper, a transparent overhead projector foil will also do, especially if slightly polished with wax. The laminator is now on my work list :)
      kind regards, George

      • Back when I was doing my own PCB work I used Laser and Copier Transparency sheets. They are mylar rather than normal heat sensitive plastic yjat is used for dry erase and ink jet printers. This is what Joribo is referencing for overhead projector use. It works much better than paper because there is no penetration, like there is with paper, and being 100% clear it is so much easier to use than paper.

    4. Would thin copper plate (18 gauge maybe?) be an option, rather than a PCB? I was thinking of using this method to create copper pendants that have been etched through the same way copper circuit boards are etched in a solution. Thus, I would like to utilise the transparent laser sheets, as mentioned by Scotts, and print a pattern created on a graphics program like Paintshop Pro and printed out via a laser printer. Would this work? Or would the toner as mentioned in the video a different type of toner put onto the transfer paper as shown in the video? How was the toner placed on the transfer paper?

      • The toner was transferred using a laser printer. I am using the Samsung ML-2165 printer with the settings at maximum (Best quality, Toner Save: Off, Darkness: Dark)

    5. If the highest temperature you’ve seen is 140C and the new thermostat is 160-200C does this mean the heater now runs continuously? If so, would it be simpler to bypass the existing thermostat with a simple switch. This would perhaps allow normal running for conventional laminating plus an ‘overdrive’ mode for PCBs and avoid having to source the new thermostat.

      • It might be possible that the temperature near the thermostat was higher than the one that I’ve measured. I do not think is a good idea to bypass the thermostat because it can result in the destruction of the heating resistor.

    6. Jerry19 says: on March 2, 2014 at 1:41 am

      Somebody already tried printing directly on PCB ? Lot of printers have door on back side and are able to print on cardboard (goes straight thru printer without bending), so should be able also to print on PCB. Or there is some problem with printing on copper.

    7. @jerry19 ….printing on copper. Yes, problem. Even if the paper comes out straight and on the other side, it is twisted around some rollers internally. Have never seen a printer which could print directly on the PC board.

    What do you think about this article? Leave a comment!

    You may add a picture too (related to electronics)