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'[EE]: Printer to PCB?'
2002\11\03@102633 by Roman Black

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Has anyone tried to adapt a bublejet printer
to print ink direct onto PCB?? I'm thinking it
would make an excellent fast prototyper to ink
a single-sided PCB for easy etching and SMD
use. This eliminates all the drilling and other
time issues with prototyping through-hole designs
and eliminates the photodevelop hassle with
expensive consumables.

I've checked the bubblejet ink onto a PCB but
it beads and contracts. However the ink can be
replaced with a different type by the popular
refil method so I don't see that as a big issue.
In years past I have used everything from nail
varnish to waterproof felt tip to do PCBs, the
ink just needs to be waterproof and adhere well
to copper.

Obviously a flatbed plotter or CNC machine could
be used, but i'm thinking the speed and fine
detail of a bubblejet coupled with ease of having
a printer driver to work straight from Protel or
Eagle would make it a very fast prototyping
system. :o)
-Roman

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2002\11\03@115148 by s Lehmann

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Hello Roman,

do you know the toner transfer method?
In this case you print the positive picture of the pcb
on a heat resistant plastic film with a laser printer.
Afterwards you take the raw pcb with the copper side upwards,
put the plasic film with the picture side down on it.
Then ironing the plasic film. The toner will melt and the
image is transfered to the copper. Plastic film is removed afterwards.
While the melting toner particles are etch resistant you can put
you pcb direct in Fe(III)Cl or something else for etching.
After etching you can remove the toner with something like aceton,
and voila, the pcb is ready for drilling.

Regards Thomas

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2002\11\03@123238 by Mike Singer

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Roman Black wrote:
> I've checked the bubblejet ink onto a PCB but
> it beads and contracts. However the ink can be
> replaced with a different type by the popular
> refil method so I don't see that as a big issue.
> In years past I have used everything from nail
> varnish to waterproof felt tip to do PCBs, the
> ink just needs to be waterproof and adhere well
> to copper.

  Hi, Roman,
  some wise man wrote on 2002-07-29 04:11:28 PST:
  "Re: [OT]:Jet-printer ink that could resist ferric chloride."
{Quote hidden}

    Seriously, I've partially disassembled Epson-IIS,
 lowered paper feed shaft 5 mm down, so pcb could
 be transported horizontally.
    But I had to stop this sort of relaxation between
 my main win-software works. Even postings to Piclist
 are now problems because of the lack of time since
 I've new customers to my program.

  By the way, you wrote on July 12, 2002:
"Re: [OT]: Client, who absolutely trusts in Delphi."
{Quote hidden}

  I answered then:
>    For the last time this is my approach to customers
>  too, they are real bastards sometime, at least here
>  in the Ukraine. But the reason, why I posted my
>  questions is I doubt this way is most effective.

Now I should admit this way is really effective.

    Regarding ink, you  can try deferent options when
 printing: micro- weave, glossy paper, film etc.
 Maybe pcb heat or UV treatment before etching will work.
 Please, if you succeeded with  ink, drop a message
 to the List.

  Mike.

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2002\11\03@163834 by Cristian

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I've succeed to pass a PCB through a bubblejet printer.
The ink problem remains unsolved for me.
Cristian

>Has anyone tried to adapt a bublejet printer
>to print ink direct onto PCB??

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2002\11\03@165318 by Brad Woods

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I don't know how you would do this, but... Most bubblejet ink is water
soluable, adding soap to the ink will keep it from beading up.

-Brad Woods


{Original Message removed}

2002\11\03@165733 by hard Prosser

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Doesn't the ink already contain a high proportion of wetting agent in order
to get through the fine nozzles etc?
I think some sort of pretreatment of the pcb may be more effective.
Richard P





I don't know how you would do this, but... Most bubblejet ink is water
soluable, adding soap to the ink will keep it from beading up.

-Brad Woods

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2002\11\03@210053 by Victor Faria

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I have read some where ''' a pcblist I think where someone had some results
with floor wax.
also steel blue (steel marking ink)
regards
victor

{Original Message removed}

2002\11\04@085510 by Roman Black

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Brad Woods wrote:
>
> I don't know how you would do this, but... Most bubblejet ink is water
> soluable, adding soap to the ink will keep it from beading up.


Yes water-soluble is a large part of the
problem, both causing bad beading (ie low
adherence to the copper) and is totally
unsuitable for etching anyway. :o)

It has to be a non-water soluble ink, which
are usually alcohol or acetone soluble and
mostly adhere well to metals.
-Roman

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2002\11\04@085511 by Roman Black

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Cristian wrote:
>
> I've succeed to pass a PCB through a bubblejet printer.
> The ink problem remains unsolved for me.


Hi Cristian, how did you get the PCB to pass
through the printer? Will it work with very small
PCB's like 1" square??
-Roman

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2002\11\04@085718 by Roman Black

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Victor Faria wrote:
>
> I have read some where ''' a pcblist I think where someone had some results
> with floor wax.
> also steel blue (steel marking ink)


Yes the steel blue or "Prussian Blue" is a good
ink for this use and is alcohol soluble and
waterproof. It might be a bit thin out of the
tin but from memory the alcohol dires out quite
quickly and it thickens up, it should be possible
to use a painters viscosity measure cup, and get
it to the right viscosity and then fill a bubblejet
cartridge in the normal way.
-Roman

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2002\11\04@091144 by Roman Black

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Thanks Thomas. :o)
Yes I have seen the toner method work, and
it works with plain paper too if the toner is
dark enough. But the idea of ink straight to
PCB is tempting. ;o)
-Roman


Thomas Lehmann wrote:
{Quote hidden}

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2002\11\04@092150 by Jim

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Cristian, what brand/model number printer did you
use?

I've got a 2nd-hand computer consignment (resale) shop
nearby that always has a selection of printers on hand
from large Epsons inkjets to HP LaserJet IIs and HP
Inkjets ...

RF Jim

{Original Message removed}

2002\11\04@092614 by Roman Black

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Mike Singer wrote:

>      Seriously, I've partially disassembled Epson-IIS,
>   lowered paper feed shaft 5 mm down, so pcb could
>   be transported horizontally.
>      But I had to stop this sort of relaxation between
>   my main win-software works.

Shame. :o) I'm interested to see how it turns
out.

{Quote hidden}

I thought you would see the light. Chasing
after difficult customers is OK if you have
lots of time and very few customers. But in the
real world those 5% of people are mongrels no
matter how hard you try and please them. The
moment they get unreasonable just tell them to get
lost and spend that time finding or helping the
GOOD customers. Like that 80:20 rule, the bad
customers take 80% of your time and return 20% of
the income.


>      Regarding ink, you  can try deferent options when
>   printing: micro- weave, glossy paper, film etc.
>   Maybe pcb heat or UV treatment before etching will work.
>   Please, if you succeeded with  ink, drop a message
>   to the List.

Ok, will do. The main issue for me is not the ink,
I see that as easy, but the feeding of the circuit
board. To be really useful for small SMP protoypes
it needs to be able to handle 1" x 1" boards, so
that points to a flatbed system like moving the
printer and the tiny board(s) sit on the flat bed.
-Roman

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2002\11\04@093232 by Alan B. Pearce

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> Hi Cristian, how did you get the PCB to pass
> through the printer? Will it work with very small
> PCB's like 1" square??

Citizen used to make a flat bed ink jet printer about 10 years ago. Would
have been ideal for this use. Unfortunately I cannot remember the model
number.

It also had this other idiosyncrasy that you could print "normal way up" for
doing long print jobs which would go over many pages, or it could print
"upside down" in which case it would feed to the top of the page, and then
print down as you viewed the printout. Designed to be used for tear off
invoices at a counter. Come to think of it, this must mean it was a normal
dot matrix print head rather than inkjet, because it would do multipart
paper :)))) Just needed a ribbon with water resistant ink (not) :)))

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2002\11\04@093439 by cdb

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Why not use a second hand plotter? I recall that Oately/Silicon Chip
had a plotter design.

I also seem to recall someone once suggested using embroidery tracing
paper and then applying a coating of some kind that transferred by
dissolving the paper leaving the pattern on the PCB.

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2002\11\04@093818 by Alan B. Pearce

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>Ok, will do. The main issue for me is not the ink,
>I see that as easy, but the feeding of the circuit
>board. To be really useful for small SMP protoypes
>it needs to be able to handle 1" x 1" boards, so
>that points to a flatbed system like moving the
>printer and the tiny board(s) sit on the flat bed.

If you really want to use such small pieces of laminate then I think you
will have to get an electrostatic hold down plotter. The only other way
would be to tape the piece of PCB to a sheet of paper. Pretty well every
printer I have come across relies on the paper being of a minimum width
(typically A4 or American equiv) or continuous tractor feed stationary just
to pass through the printer without problems.

The only other way I see is to be able to punch your small bit out of a
sheet, a bit like a cookie cutter making a hole in pastry, or a sheet of
Avery labels. Then you can refeed the laminate for the next small pcb in 3
days time, taking care to print on a different spot, and not the hole ;))

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2002\11\04@101817 by Katinka Mills

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> -----Original Message-----
> From: pic microcontroller discussion list
> [.....PICLISTKILLspamspam@spam@MITVMA.MIT.EDU]On Behalf Of Roman Black
> Sent: Monday, 4 November 2002 22:21
> To: PICLISTspamKILLspamMITVMA.MIT.EDU
> Subject: Re: [EE]: Printer to PCB?
<elsnipo>

> Ok, will do. The main issue for me is not the ink,
> I see that as easy, but the feeding of the circuit
> board. To be really useful for small SMP protoypes
> it needs to be able to handle 1" x 1" boards, so
> that points to a flatbed system like moving the
> printer and the tiny board(s) sit on the flat bed.
> -Roman



Roman,

Try an EPSON CD writer, the PCB could fit into the tray with a cardboard
adaptor (dummy cd)

Regards,

Kat.

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2002\11\04@115333 by Mike Singer

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Roman Black wrote:
> ... To be really useful for small SMP protoypes
> it needs to be able to handle 1" x 1" boards, so
> that points to a flatbed system like moving the
> printer and the tiny board(s) sit on the flat bed.
> -Roman

  Yes, since I've shifted paper feed shaft down
about 5 mm, my next step would be to place on
it "flat bed" - textolite sheet with dimensions
more than A4 format. It requires a couple of
small bearings in front of the shaft, and a couple
from behind, and some slide guide on each side.
  Starting position could be set by printer's paper-in
mechanical switch, when the printer starts to rotate
the paper feed shaft.
  The bloody old Epson Stylus Colour IIS mechanism
lies uncovered on one of my bookshelves waiting
for the better times. :-)
  I tried to print on a horizontal sheet of cardboard
helping it with my hands: It worked.

  Mike.
PS:
Correct me, please, if I use " paper feed shaft" term
wrongly: English is not my native.
( The rubber-coated roller rotated by stepper to feed
a paper ).

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2002\11\04@123547 by Dal Wheeler

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I've got an old citizen color thermal transfer printer that I've been
playing with to do something similar.  I'm able to pass CD's through the
transport but the ribbon breaks when passing over the sudden transitions in
media hights.  I think I can overcome this by building up the surrounding
areas of the cd carrier card to keep everything on the same level.  I've
seen similar carrier cards on ink jet based cd printers as Kat suggested.
Perhaps something similar really could be rigged for small circuit boards.

I originally got this printer with proto circuit board production in mind;
but the printer overlaps the colors with a clear protective layer that makes
etching a bit fuzzy.  Need to figure out how to build a custom print driver
to kill that function off.
-Dal

> > {Original Message removed}

2002\11\04@123820 by Francisco Ares

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Why don't you build your own?

Check http://www.luberth.com/plotter/content.htm . There are lots of
interesting links.

Francisco


cdb wrote:

>Why not use a second hand plotter? I recall that Oately/Silicon Chip
>had a plotter design.
>
>

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2002\11\04@124121 by Doug Hewett

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What would happen if you printed to the Canon cloth medium?  Could you transfer that image to the PCB?
Doug Hewett

{Original Message removed}

2002\11\04@134052 by Peter L. Peres

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On Mon, 4 Nov 2002, Alan B. Pearce wrote:

*>The only other way I see is to be able to punch your small bit out of a
*>sheet, a bit like a cookie cutter making a hole in pastry, or a sheet of
*>Avery labels. Then you can refeed the laminate for the next small pcb in 3
*>days time, taking care to print on a different spot, and not the hole ;))

There is another way: spot-glue the part to a larger sheet.

Peter

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2002\11\04@134054 by Peter L. Peres

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On Tue, 5 Nov 2002, Roman Black wrote:

*>Yes water-soluble is a large part of the
*>problem, both causing bad beading (ie low
*>adherence to the copper) and is totally
*>unsuitable for etching anyway. :o)

You could use inversion masking. Print with bubble on copper then spray on
a nitro or other based laquer while the bubble ink is still wet. The
laquer won't catch on the wet parts. Thus you would obtain a negative in
laquer after partly drying the laquer and washing with water. This has not
been tried but certain kinds of stone printing used in graphics arts use
this method (or nearly) and do work (and have for hundreds of years).

I am under the impression that the wax transfer jets work directly for
etching if enough print density is achieved (i.e. Epson etc).

Peter

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2002\11\04@134258 by Josh Koffman

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There used to be people on eBay that sold plans to turn various printer
models into CD printers, presumably by allowing them to pass the thicker
material through the machine. I don't know if these people are still
around, but it might be worth a shot, or at least, a google search about
home made CD printers. I think the only way to get a small size PCB to
pass reliably is with some sort of carrier. If the carrier was cheap
enough, then it could easily be remade for each new PCB size. Cardboard
of some sort springs to mind, though I suppose it might wear after a
while. As a side thought, if you did use cardboard, perhaps you could
use little spikey wheels along the edges to move it along. Something
like tractor feed on a dot matrix printer, but without preformed holes.
Since the carrier would be basically garbage anyways, who cares what it
looks like after?

I hope you come up with something useful in regards to the ink and then
share :) The gun bluing sounds interesting, will it work with regular
print heads though? I'd love a machine that could print directly onto
PCBs. Part of the reason I hand wire all my projects is it's just easier
(in my current situation) than doing a PCB. Of course, the other reason
is that I don't know how to design PCBs :) I did download Eagle
yesterday though, and I will likely try it eventually. Figures the
project I want to use it on will need a bigger board that I can do with
the freeware version.

Josh
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Roman Black wrote:
> Hi Cristian, how did you get the PCB to pass
> through the printer? Will it work with very small
> PCB's like 1" square??

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2002\11\04@151058 by Cristian

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Hi, Roman,
Using a tray you can do that.
You have to mill that tray for precision.A double scotch will position that
1" piece of PCB.
Cristian

{Quote hidden}

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2002\11\04@151059 by Cristian

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There are two ways to search for:
       1. Ink to copper
       2. Ink to photoresist.

The acetone-soluble ink will melt the ink cartridge, for sure.
Cristian

>Brad Woods wrote:
>>
>> I don't know how you would do this, but... Most bubblejet ink is water
>> soluable, adding soap to the ink will keep it from beading up.

>It has to be a non-water soluble ink, which
>are usually alcohol or acetone soluble and
>mostly adhere well to metals.
>-Roman

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2002\11\04@151102 by Cristian

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What about 'toner to PCB'?
Is there any way to transfer the toner from the drum directly to a metalic
(conductive) surface? Is that a stupid question?
Cristian

>Thanks Thomas. :o)
>Yes I have seen the toner method work, and
>it works with plain paper too if the toner is
>dark enough. But the idea of ink straight to
>PCB is tempting. ;o)
>-Roman

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2002\11\04@151104 by Cristian

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A Lexmark Z31.Very easy to modify.

Sory for my delayed response, but the internet is a lot expensive in
Romania. I only check the mails once, after 11PM.
Cristian

>Cristian, what brand/model number printer did you
>use?

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2002\11\04@163217 by Mike Singer

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Josh Koffman wrote:
>              ...I'd love a machine that could print directly onto
> PCBs. Part of the reason I hand wire all my projects is it's just
easier
> (in my current situation) than doing a PCB. Of course, the other
reason
> is that I don't know how to design PCBs :) I did download Eagle
> yesterday though, and I will likely try it eventually. Figures the
> project I want to use it on will need a bigger board that I can do
with
> the freeware version.
>
> Josh
> --
> A common mistake that people make when trying to design something
> completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete
> fools.


  Another great reason why use ink-jet, old PCB
fighter Roman have not mentioned, is the ability to
produce _VERY_ big PCBs very cheaply.
  Imagine big indicator panel about 0.4m x 1m.
Even from Olimex this PCB could cost  hundreds $.
With A2 ink-jet printer it could cost 10 times less.
The cost of the "system-on-pcb" gets reasonable.

Mike.

If you think of something to be foolproof, the fools
are always greater then the proof!
  Eduard Teller,       American Nuclear Physicist

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2002\11\04@184449 by cdb

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Actually I've just remembered there is a printer designed for
printing PCBs it was advertised in Nuts & Volts - I'll look it up, th
e printer looked like a modified HP photo printer, however this was a
commercial enterprise but you could only contact the manufacturer by
email, if it helps anyone the contact was a Chinese man.

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2002\11\04@195919 by Dale Botkin

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On Mon, 4 Nov 2002, Cristian wrote:

> You have to mill that tray for precision.A double scotch will position that
> 1" piece of PCB.

In my experience a double Scotch will about guarantee it will be crooked.

8-)

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2002\11\05@043347 by c Scheepers

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Hi there,

I had the best results with the backing paper on the back of labels. What I do is peel the labels off and then print the toner with a lser printer onto the wax side of the label paper. It works very well as long as you make sure that the PCB has no greasy or filthy spots on.

Regards

Nic Scheepers
Group Software and Integration Manager


> {Original Message removed}

2002\11\05@074809 by Roman Black

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Katinka Mills wrote:
>

> Try an EPSON CD writer, the PCB could fit into the tray with a cardboard
> adaptor (dummy cd)


So that is an Epson PRINTER that prints onto
CD's?? I've never seen those.
-Roman

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2002\11\05@080014 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>So that is an Epson PRINTER that prints onto
>CD's?? I've never seen those.

First one I came across was designed to look like LaserJet Printer as far as
the PC was concerned. I do not know what the printing technology was, but
assume it was probably inkjet.

Came as part of an automated CD writer system. Put a stack of blank CD's in
one side, and the autofeed stuffed one into the writer, when finished
writing it went into the printer. That would have been about 8 or 9 years
ago now. Was used to archive scanned census data in NZ for the statistics
department.

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2002\11\05@094650 by Dr Martin Hill

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I have one, it's actually called a Seiko Precision CDP-2000A.  Never used it
for pcb's though.

Martin

{Original Message removed}

2002\11\05@115634 by Dal Wheeler

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cdrom2go.com/equipment/ezcd.htm

My dad has one o' these in his home recording studio setup.  It looks like a
standard epson printer with a flat transport and a plastic cd carrier.
Prints fairly nice, but needs specially coated CD's to print upon.
I've been playing with an thermal transfer printer to see if I can't get it
to work as well --it won't need a prepped CD.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Roman Black" <EraseMEfastvidspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTEZY.NET.AU>

> Katinka Mills wrote:
> > Try an EPSON CD writer, the PCB could fit into the tray with a cardboard
> > adaptor (dummy cd)
> So that is an Epson PRINTER that prints onto
> CD's?? I've never seen those.
> -Roman

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2002\11\05@154314 by Cristian

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Don't be so glad. Print is water soluble. They sell a laquerer to protect it.
Cristian

>> Try an EPSON CD writer, the PCB could fit into the tray with a cardboard
>> adaptor (dummy cd)
>
>
>So that is an Epson PRINTER that prints onto
>CD's?? I've never seen those.
>-Roman

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2002\11\05@170803 by cdb

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Roman,

here is the info on a supposed printer designed for PCB making.

The information is from the New Products section of the June edition
of Nuts & Volts magazine

MCU Electrostatic PCB Maker

Will take output from most EDA software and Front Panel design s/w
such as Autocad trace widths down to 0.006" (note Inches ) precision
is to 1200dpi.

The blurb then gets confusing as it waffles on aboutcorrect pressure
and heat application.

The magazine has a photo of the printer

Contact : Charles Liu , 9300 Flair Drive, 106, Dept.NV, El Monte, CA
91731

Fax: 626-287-7607    email: charlesliu_88spamspam_OUTyahoo.com

I though of enquiring about its use for prototyping, but was put off
by no website and a yahoo email address.

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2002\11\06@013853 by Roman Black

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There's been some great posts on the PCB printer
thread. Looks like this would be a popular
project if it's workable.

I'm still favoring the ink (correct type) direct
to PCB as an etch resist to remove all other
processing steps.
-Roman

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2002\11\06@014104 by Roman Black

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Mike Singer wrote:

>    Another great reason why use ink-jet, old PCB
>  fighter Roman have not mentioned, is the ability to
>  produce _VERY_ big PCBs very cheaply.
>    Imagine big indicator panel about 0.4m x 1m.
>  Even from Olimex this PCB could cost  hundreds $.
>  With A2 ink-jet printer it could cost 10 times less.
>  The cost of the "system-on-pcb" gets reasonable.


Good point! You could do very long PCB provided
your printer feed was reliable and the page length
was long enough. I worry a bit that the PCB would
move like the problem with stick scanners that
roll the page through.
-Roman

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2002\11\06@015550 by Roman Black

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Josh Koffman wrote:
>
> There used to be people on eBay that sold plans to turn various printer
> models into CD printers, presumably by allowing them to pass the thicker
> material through the machine.

Interesting.

> I think the only way to get a small size PCB to
> pass reliably is with some sort of carrier.
> if you did use cardboard, perhaps you could
> use little spikey wheels along the edges to move it along. Something
> like tractor feed on a dot matrix printer, but without preformed holes.

I think this is in the right direction, what would
be better still would be to move the printer along
using a tractor feed type system and have all boards
placed on a flatbed. The positively registered feed
would save all dimensioning problems as there could
be no slip.

Since the paper feed is usually a stepper motor
maybe you could make the printer movement as a
leadscrew/threaded rod etc then just make sure that
the steps/inch is the same so it would use the same
printer drive hardware.


> I hope you come up with something useful in regards to the ink and then
> share :) The gun bluing sounds interesting, will it work with regular
> print heads though?

It's not actually "blueing" as that is a nasty
chemical process. The "prussian blue" is simply
an alchohol based INK used in metalwork to aid
in marking out the metal with a scriber. It's a
dark blue/purple and adheres well to the metal and
is cheap in large tins. Viscosity should be fully
modifyable by adding alcohol or drying it out a bit.


> I'd love a machine that could print directly onto
> PCBs. Part of the reason I hand wire all my projects is it's just easier
> (in my current situation) than doing a PCB.

Yep I do a lot of veroboard (stripboard) work for
one-offs and being able to do small boards in
minutes would be very handy. I'm thinking in
conjunction with the $20 hot air SMD solderer
we discussed here a year back you could do nice
small apps in minutes.
-Roman

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2002\11\06@020056 by Roman Black

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cdb wrote:

{Quote hidden}

Thanks Colin, i'll check that out. Not sure I like
the sound of electrostatic operation though...
Laserprinters etc rely on the paper NOT scratching
the photographic film on the drum. Can't imagine
small PCBs with hacksawed edges being good there. :o)
-Roman

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2002\11\06@021706 by Roman Black

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Cristian wrote:
>
> There are two ways to search for:
>         1. Ink to copper
>         2. Ink to photoresist.
>
> The acetone-soluble ink will melt the ink cartridge, for sure.
> Cristian


Alcohol soluble ink will be ok with most newer
types of plastics.
-Roman

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2002\11\06@024000 by Mike Singer

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Roman Black wrote:
> ... You could do very long PCB provided
> your printer feed was reliable and the page length
> was long enough. I worry a bit that the PCB would
> move like the problem with stick scanners that
> roll the page through.

  Perforated "bed-sheet" and some cog-wheels
on the roller could help, I think.

  Mike.

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2002\11\06@072455 by s Lehmann

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Hello Roman,

as a veroboard user this link might be of interest for you.
Is something like "veroboard CAD". They have a working demo,
which is only limited in the number of parts to use.
http://www.abacom-online.de/html/lmaster.html
They also have some ohter useful electronic related software.
Hope this helps until your pcb-printer is ready.;-)

Regards Thomas



>Yep I do a lot of veroboard (stripboard) work for
>one-offs and being able to do small boards in
>minutes would be very handy. I'm thinking in
>conjunction with the $20 hot air SMD solderer
>we discussed here a year back you could do nice
>small apps in minutes.
>-Roman

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2002\11\06@144838 by Josh Koffman

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Comments within

Josh
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Roman Black wrote:
{Quote hidden}

The only problem I see here is that this project suddenly starts to get
very hard to make for the average joe with no machining experience. If
it was just a simple modification of an existing printer that allowed
the thicker material, plus perhaps the cardboard carried, and of course
the ink modification, I think most people could handle it. Once you
start changing the printer too much, why not just take the controller
electronics and a couple mechanical subsystems from the printer, and
fashion a totally new machine. I know I don't have the skills/time to do
that (not that a machine like that wouldn't be useful).

> It's not actually "blueing" as that is a nasty
> chemical process. The "prussian blue" is simply
> an alchohol based INK used in metalwork to aid
> in marking out the metal with a scriber. It's a
> dark blue/purple and adheres well to the metal and
> is cheap in large tins. Viscosity should be fully
> modifyable by adding alcohol or drying it out a bit.

So this would be the stuff that flows into the scratches to increase
contrast? I was wondering about the gun blueing, IIRC it's actually an
acid of some sort.

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2002\11\06@180948 by cdb

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Another option might be to buy a cheap hobbyist CNC machine and
change the routing tools to Draughtmans Ink pens.

There's a German firm who have a kit about 700 Euros, for a record
player platter style 3 head machine - put together bit like an Airfix
kit -now that dates me, I reckon the drill bits could be replaced by
pens.

Colin
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2002\11\06@210308 by Josh Koffman

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Of course in that case, why not just mill the board directly. For small
prototypes this would almost surely be quicker. To me, the big
attraction to something that would print right on a board is the fact
that I could do artwork on my computer, print it onto the board, and
etch. If the printer was made/modified cheap enough, I think there would
be a huge response. I'd love to have a machine that milled the boards
directly, as that would cut out the etching phase, and the associated
chemical problems. I just don't think I could ever afford/make a milling
machine.

Josh
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cdb wrote:
> Another option might be to buy a cheap hobbyist CNC machine and
> change the routing tools to Draughtmans Ink pens.

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2002\11\06@211755 by Justin Grimm

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I'm attempting to make one now. The only problem I see is the milling bit
would have to be small, probably 0.3mm. I plan to make my milling machine so
you can change from a milling bit to a resist pen or even a larger milling
bit for engraving metal. The plotter is constructed entirely from brass and
stainless steel for strength, at the moment I'm waiting on some toothed
pulleys from RS so I can complete the mechanics. But like you say, I plan on
sending the drawing from my PC to the plotter which will give me an almost
completed prototype.

Justin

{Original Message removed}

2002\11\06@220434 by SM Ling

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Would it be possible to use conductive ink on a thin sheet of insulator?

I only did a 5 minute search, there might be such an "ink", but then there
are adhersion and heat-tolerant issues.  Would have to dig deeper when time
allows.

cheers, Ling SM

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2002\11\06@223553 by Josh Koffman

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I was thinking of this too. I definetly think there would be some sort
of heat tolerant issues. I also wonder about the avilability of suitably
substrate. Etching all the copper off a blank PCB just to end up with a
copper free board to print on seems like a waste :)

Josh
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SM Ling wrote:
> Would it be possible to use conductive ink on a thin sheet of insulator?
>
> I only did a 5 minute search, there might be such an "ink", but then there
> are adhersion and heat-tolerant issues.  Would have to dig deeper when time
> allows.

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2002\11\06@224759 by Josh Koffman

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Are you using a custom written driver to interface directly to like
AutoCAD or something, or are you using one of the available packages out
there that translate a standard file into the proper control signals for
your machine?

Josh
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fools.
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Justin Grimm wrote:
> pulleys from RS so I can complete the mechanics. But like you say, I plan on
> sending the drawing from my PC to the plotter which will give me an almost
> completed prototype.

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2002\11\06@234839 by Robert Rolf

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There are machines that do directly router a board. They don't remove
all the copper, they just cut it free from the surrounding material.
What you end up with is a board that from a distance looks like unetched
but up close you can see the fine lines of missing copper that makes
trace 'islands'.

These machines are great for prototyping and one offs, and could probably
be built by a home user from a solid flat bed plotter and a Dremel (r)
cableflex tool. The routing software would be a pain though...

Robert

Josh Koffman wrote:
{Quote hidden}

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2002\11\07@004949 by Justin Grimm

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I've already written half the program in visual basic. It reads the hpgl
file, draws it on the screen, then it will probably send to the plotter,
serially, a group of bytes stating the hpgl commands. I've got to get the
mechanics finished first before doing the electronics. It's dc motor driven
with encoder position feedback.

Justin

{Original Message removed}

2002\11\07@005000 by Justin Grimm

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This is the plan, to mill around the track only and leave the rest of the
copper there. This way it won't look unsightly with milling marks all over
it. Yes the software will be a nightmare.
What is this Dremel cableflex tool?

Justin

{Original Message removed}

2002\11\07@023323 by Nate Duehr

face
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I've seen a more expensive machine that mills the boards to look just
like they'd been etched... except that the traces are a little higher
(thicker vertically) when it's done... and the traces look a little
"squared off" is the best way I can describe it.

I have a little board that was made on this machine that a friend made
up that uses an 8-pin PIC one-shot with A/D to measure automotive
voltage and shut down my ham radio gear if the battery falls too low.
It also has a five minute "turn off the radios" timer that kills the
power to the radios via a hefty 30A relay after I get out of the
vehicle, and it monitors an accessory line from the key-switch in the
Jeep to put it in "turn them back on" mode.

It's kinda nice... I just get out of the vehicle knowing that the little
PIC board will turn everything off a few minutes later... and it waits a
little bit so you can get that last "talk to you later" in when you
arrive at your destination.

And if you're sitting there in the vehicle waiting for someone and want
to listen to the radio, you just turn the key-switch back on for 3
seconds and then off, and it "latches" on... but if you stay too long
like that and run the battery down, it kills everything... giving you a
large hint that you ought to start the vehicle and charge things back up
again.  (GRIN)  (One of the guys here found his alternator failed on the
highway, not by any indication from the vehicle itself, but when all his
radios dutifully turned off one night driving down the road... heh
heh...)

Useful little gadget.

(By the way, he wrote the code in PICBasic Pro, and no, I don't have
it... but it'd be pretty easy to do again...)

The machine made nice boards, but darn expensive machine I think... not
exactly hobbyist stuff.

(The person who gave me the board said the machine was owned by a local
electronics college at the time he had access to use it, so they can't
be super-expensive, but I'm sure they're not cheap...)

Nate

On Wed, 2002-11-06 at 21:44, Robert Rolf wrote:
{Quote hidden}

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2002\11\07@043740 by Alan B. Pearce

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>I just don't think I could ever afford/make
>a milling machine.

The trick would be to start with the mechanics of a small mill that
companies like Proxxon (and possibly Dremel) make to go with their hand tool
range. Then all you would need to do is provide motors to drive each axis.

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2002\11\07@044819 by Alan B. Pearce

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>There's a German firm who have a kit about 700 Euros, for a
>record player platter style 3 head machine - put together bit
>like an Airfix kit -now that dates me, I reckon the drill bits
>could be replaced by pens.

That sounds rather like the machine that was described in a series of
articles in Elektor magazine. IIRC it was fairly complex mechanically with
epicyclical gearboxes and required a PC for position computation.

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2002\11\07@051249 by cdb

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That be the one!!

By the time it was converted to A$ about 1800 or so.

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2002\11\07@093604 by Cristian

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Routing software: start with Eagle's ULPs. See Eagle site.
Cristian

A The routing software would be a pain though...
>
>Robert

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2002\11\07@094403 by Josh Koffman

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True, but (at least for me) that presents a rather large construction
challenge. Plus, much of the work should be precision so that you end up
with repeatable accurate results. This basicaly ends up scaring me away
from trying to construct such a beast.

Josh
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"Alan B. Pearce" wrote:
> The trick would be to start with the mechanics of a small mill that
> companies like Proxxon (and possibly Dremel) make to go with their hand tool
> range. Then all you would need to do is provide motors to drive each axis.

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2002\11\07@112108 by Alan B. Pearce

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>True, but (at least for me) that presents a rather large construction
>challenge. Plus, much of the work should be precision so that you end up
>with repeatable accurate results. This basicaly ends up scaring me away
>from trying to construct such a beast.

Well that is why I suggest using a small commercial mill assembly, as the
close tolerance work is already done. It should not be a big deal to attach
motors to the knobs that drive the X/Y axis, and get repeatable accuracy.
Something less on the Z axis to lower the motor against a preset stop to get
the cutter depth correct should be easily done with a stepper motor.

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2002\11\07@215826 by gaston gagnon

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cdb a écrit :
>
> That be the one!!
>
> By the time it was converted to A$ about 1800 or so.
>
> colin
> --

May I ask to what message this refers to? Gaston

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2002\11\08@005253 by cdb

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A Hi-Tech DIY PCB drill/router machine project featurewd over 5
articles in Elektor magazine - should have been in the French edition
as well.

colin
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2002\11\08@234637 by cdb

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I've had another thought how this could be done - how about a wax or
dye sublimation printer?

I seem to recall that a company once produced a wax printer for the
Amiga 1500 and Atari computers, about £300.00 10- 15 years ago.

Colin
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2002\11\09@031341 by c Scheepers

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Come to think of it, what about those printers that prints the plastic security cards (i.e. FARGO 4850). Yes it will not be able to do big PCB's but it surely would do a hell of a good job on the smaller pcb's up to the size of a credit card, You get some of the models that can print both sides or can print two or more at one go.

Maybe it would be a problem getting the ink (dye sublimation) off afterwards but I think it is worth a try at least!

Regards

Nic Scheepers



> {Original Message removed}


'[EE]: Printer to PCB?'
2003\03\04@015410 by Brandon Fosdick
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Josh Koffman wrote:
>
> I was thinking of this too. I definetly think there would be some sort
> of heat tolerant issues. I also wonder about the avilability of suitably
> substrate. Etching all the copper off a blank PCB just to end up with a
> copper free board to print on seems like a waste :)
>
> Josh
>
> SM Ling wrote:
> > Would it be possible to use conductive ink on a thin sheet of insulator?
> >
> > I only did a 5 minute search, there might be such an "ink", but then there
> > are adhersion and heat-tolerant issues.  Would have to dig deeper when time
> > allows.


Sorry to restart this discussion. I've been off-net for a few months
(new job, moved from VA to CA, etc...) and I'm just now getting to the
12,000+ PICList messages that have piled up.

A few or 6 months ago I came across a research paper talking about
making micro 3D structures using modified inkjet printers. One of the
things mentioned in the paper is the fact that standard inkjet ink is
electrically conductive. Naturally I whipped out a multimeter and
applied it to the printout of the paper, and sure enough the printed
lines were conductive. However, I think the resistance was about 300K
per letter (vertically, 10-12pt font). A few brief experiments revealed
that the resistance would drop considerably if the same image was
printed repeatedly (more layers), I'm guessing it has to do with the
increased x-sectional area of the "trace".

After playing around a bit more I decided to finish reading the article,
which went on to mention that there are special inks readily available
that deposit metal particles (silver?) after drying, which greatly
increases the conductivity. Unfortunately I can't remember exact numbers
or where I saw the article, but I'm sure I found it with google.

I'm thinking such inks could be used to print traces and pads directly
onto veroboard, with or without predrilled holes. That would solve the
substrate heat problem, but I have no idea if the resulting pads will
hold up to soldering. Anyone know of a conductive glue that could be
used? Low temp solder paste?

If would be really nice if you could print conductive traces in
different colors. Then the board would look like the layout on the
screen.

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2003\03\04@042003 by Nigel Orr

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> If would be really nice if you could print conductive traces in
> different colors. Then the board would look like the layout on the
> screen.

Even better, if you are printing the conducting layers on- you could coat
the printed board with a layer of non-conducting lacquer/varnish and print
another layer of 'track' over the top of that.

As big a multilayer board as you wanted, and no vias needed, just gaps in
the insulating layer where you want conducting layers to contact... it
would be murderous to debug though!

Nigel
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2003\03\08@024952 by Brandon Fosdick

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Nigel Orr wrote:
>
> > If would be really nice if you could print conductive traces in
> > different colors. Then the board would look like the layout on the
> > screen.
>
> Even better, if you are printing the conducting layers on- you could coat
> the printed board with a layer of non-conducting lacquer/varnish and print
> another layer of 'track' over the top of that.
>
> As big a multilayer board as you wanted, and no vias needed, just gaps in
> the insulating layer where you want conducting layers to contact... it
> would be murderous to debug though!

I like the sound of that.

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2003\03\08@134735 by Kyrre Aalerud

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It's being used today to make flat button-panels etc.
We are getting some made for our PIC-project :-)

The use of PFC and PTF technologies can be seen here:
http://www.polyflex.com/peripheral.htm
(Just an example I found rather fast...)
A much better example for possibilitys with the CLF technique is found here:
http://www.emernet.org/workshops/PCBWorkshop/brunel.pdf

Hope u find it good reading :-)

   KreAture

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