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An Unsophisticated Printed Circuit Board Fabrication Process Requiring Only A Laser Printer And Copper Etchant

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.84.1 - 4.84.13

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Paper Authors

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John Naber

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Jerry Branson

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Glenn Edelen

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Don Ruoff

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2532

An Unsophisticated Printed Circuit Board Fabrication Process Requiring Only a Laser Printer and Copper Etchant

Jerry Branson, Glenn Edelen, Don Ruoff and John Naber

Electrical Engineering Department University of Louisville Louisville Kentucky 40292

Email: Phone: 502-852-7910


A low-cost method of fabricating a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) is presented. The process is favorable over conventional PCB fabrication due to fewer processing steps and lower capital investment. A laser printer is used to print a circuit layout onto ink-jet paper or a commercial product (i.e. PnP-Blue from Technics, Inc.). The image is then transferred to a copper clad board using a standard household clothes iron. The transferred toner acts as an etch resist in a Ferric Chloride (FeCl3) bath. Using this method, it is possible to fabricate PCBs with state-of-the art feature sizes as small as 4 mils using a 300 dpi laser printer. A higher resolution printer is expected to give finer resolutions. Tradeoffs between the ink-jet paper and the PnP-Blue paper will be analyzed and discussed. This approach has been used for graduate-level courses including a VHDL class project to implement an ALU using a 44-pin CPLD and a microwave class project to implement a microstrip matching networks using a cellular band power transistor.


The current Printed Circuit Board (PCB) technology routinely prints trace widths of 6 mils as found in a typical four-layer PCB used in desktop PC motherboard [1]. The equipment to produce such PCBs in high volumes can cost well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is prohibitive for many universities and potential start-up companies. Even when less than state-of-the-art equipment is available, the process itself may limit its usefulness in a classroom setting as it requires the following steps:

1. Mask generation 2. Resist deposition 3. Resist exposure using ultraviolet lamps 4. Resist development 5. Copper etching bath


Naber, J., & Branson, J., & Edelen, G., & Ruoff, D. (1999, June), An Unsophisticated Printed Circuit Board Fabrication Process Requiring Only A Laser Printer And Copper Etchant Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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