Author Topic: Print transfer for PCB, decals etc? Sublimation printiter?  (Read 655 times)

Offline PekkaNF

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Print transfer for PCB, decals etc? Sublimation printiter?
« on: January 19, 2022, 01:23:10 AM »
I have been making print transfers with old trusty laser print and liron, laminator, cheap T-shirt press methods. With very varying decree of success. After I bought new printer more fails than successes. Process is really sensitive and takes lot of dialing in. New printer prints beautiful, but saves ink and does all sorts of stuff not to produce even resist coating. There are settings, but not really set for this sort of stuff. Although I am very happy I got new BW laser printer it does print all other stuff well.

I don't have a color printer and I just could not bring myself to buy laser color printer with our family user profile.

Few days ago I found something I might consider: Sublimation printer designed for picture transfer. The printer is expensive (for random use), but not really expensive.

Epson SureColor SC-F100:
https://www.epson.co.uk/products/printers/large-format-printers/surecolor-sc-f100

Black ink is separate and there is proprietary transfer paper that is quaranted to work with printer.

If this printer would:
1) Print "all solid black" transfer image that makes good etching resist for PCB
2) Print transfer decals for various purposes and there were way to transfer them on aluminium and some fairly common (some 3 printed) plastic enclosures and protect with something
3) Print some ocassional pictures to hang on fridge or "artwork"
4) Print transfer on mug, T-shirt or something.....my daughter likes that, but this is not even monthly occurence.


Anybody has some experience on sublimation printers or has an opinion of them?

Pekka

Offline ddmckee54

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Re: Print transfer for PCB, decals etc? Sublimation printiter?
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2022, 12:31:46 PM »
Pekka:

Have you tried laser printing on to clear plastic, like what is used for overhead projectors?  That's what I used for PCB masks years ago, worked fairly well.

I even used the laser printer technique to simulate spinning props for model planes that were posed in flight.

Don
Too many irons, not enough fire.

Offline PekkaNF

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Re: Print transfer for PCB, decals etc? Sublimation printiter?
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2022, 07:43:30 AM »
Don,

That is exactly what I used before. But now printers and inks have changed. It does not work anymore. It never was that reliable and great. I had some success with transfer paper, but that doesn't work either with my newest printer.

The printer I linked is made for picture transfer, but all info talks about transfer to polyester or mug.

Offline ddmckee54

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Re: Print transfer for PCB, decals etc? Sublimation printiter?
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2022, 12:51:26 PM »
Pekka:

I know a guy that knows a guy.....

One of the engineers I work with is working on a project that involves.... wait for it...  printer ink.  Actually he's worked on many projects there, this is just the latest.

If I remember it, I'll talk to him at the next staff meeting.  Maybe it he remembers it, he can ask them and see if THEY know somebody, and see what they reccomend.  If they are making inkjet ink though - you're probably screwed.

You never know, maybe the "Good Ole Boy" network can actually work.

Don
Too many irons, not enough fire.

Offline PekkaNF

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Re: Print transfer for PCB, decals etc? Sublimation printiter?
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2022, 01:32:27 PM »
That would be great....I managed to contact local printer box store and they really had no idea....they just sell them. Although they said that maybe local Epson representative could help. Maybe they could print an example, send it to me and I could my own tests with a print. I made query in the Finnish for in Finnish and from the answer I realized that whoever is in customer service used google translate or something....I wrote back in English and he said that he understand what I mean....but can't help. They just sell printers and transfer paper :doh:

I trawled some interweb and found out that the ink for picture transfer is somewhat special and works well with transfer paper....but wait: you need a prepped "polymer" surface for that ink to transfer when used in hot press. Polyester T-shirt or max 50% cotton blend works fine.

Aluminium etc. hard surfaces need a primer or such....basically a bummer, because I want uncoated for etch to etch. Pretty picture just isn't enough. I need resist for etchant and rest of the area free. Then I got a brainwave (or brain freeze): even with a primer all is not lost, if I can remove (with solvent) after hot press the exposed primer, if the transfered dye (and primer under it) will not dissolve as well. This could be possible, because sublimation ink is pretty tough stuff. But then again, what do I now about the prepped surfaces and primers. This information is not simply available.

Very preliminary hunch says that is something like polyvinyl alcohol would work as a primer, then maybe....but can't really know without trying.

Probably, if this were easy (or even feasible) someone would have tried long time ago.

I have checked the ink jet transfers....local store has some transfer paper, but apparently you get some sort of protective layer for the "picture" when you use ink jet transfers. And apparently the print process is geared for pretty picture and ink saving over the "full black echant resistant 100% porous free layer" = resist.

The process was a bit hit and miss even with old laser printer. Some ink brands worked better but it was doable to certain extent. I expected more with my brand new BW laser printer, but can't get good transfer I got with the old printer. I do get very good quality prints. Printer is fine, but this undocumented feature does not work anymore.

I was thinking of using 3D printer to print resist onto copper clad PCB, but found out that 3D printer does not make very solid layer of plastic. That would solve it easy though. Sounds simple. Maybe there is way to load the 3D printed plastic pores with a "paint" or something with a careful use of spraygun and solvents, and wipe or rinse excess out, but then it would not be very elegant anymore.

The printer and paper would be around 600€investment and firs I though that if I could use it for general purpose color prints and picture transfers, it would not be too bad. But can't really use it for general purpose. Just random T-shirt print and light hobby use does with a small possibility to use it for PCB making just doesn't sound that apealing anymore.

Offline mc

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Re: Print transfer for PCB, decals etc? Sublimation printiter?
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2022, 02:28:12 PM »
I happened to come across a couple TikTok videos the other week, and apparently if you get one of the newer Epson Ecotank printers, you can fill it with the proper sublimation inks, then use transfer paper to transfer the print to whatever you want.

I had been meaning to do a bit more research, but never got around to it yet.
A quick search on Youtube for "epson sublimation ecotank", turns up a few videos.

Offline PekkaNF

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Re: Print transfer for PCB, decals etc? Sublimation printiter?
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2022, 04:14:13 PM »
Jep, that's the printer Epson SureColor SC-F100 on opening post. "A4 dye sublimation printer"

Offline mc

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Re: Print transfer for PCB, decals etc? Sublimation printiter?
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2022, 04:34:16 PM »
The video I just watched was not the dedicated sublimation printer.
It was just a standard ET-4700, and there are other videos showing other Ecotank printers.

A quick google suggests 100% cotton transfer is possible.

It's something I'm kind of looking at, as I have a business idea, but I've got several other projects to get done first.