Toner transfer: Now in color and with silkscreen

If you follow up my progress, after [getting the hardware ready], [getting first awesome results] and [throwing up an ultimate test], I decided to see if I can go true color. Although black looks cool & gothic normally you want silkscreen to assist you while populating the board. So I got myself a nice’n’shiny Samsung CLP-365. I decided to stick to samsung for a reason. My ML-2167 toner is mostly dielectric (e.g. I couldn’t measure any noticeable resistance), it has a known melting point, etc. In other words – it is well-tested by me. If you are willing to do the same with a different laser printer, I suggest following these tests:

  • Print a thick layer on a sheet of paper, and press on multimeter probes. If you can’t measure any noticeable resistance – you’re good.
  • Take a magnet from an old HDD, and see if toner sticks to it. If it does – I’d better not use it.
  • Take a wire coil, hook it to inductance meter and see if inductance changes noticeable when you insert a piece of paper covered by toner into it.

In my case all three tests passed.
Unfortunately CLP-365 wasn’t as good as ML-2167. First, it didn’t like the toner transfer paper, so I had to stick a piece of it to a sheet of usual paper or stick a piece of duct tape to the place where it grabbed the paper. Second – it proved to be quite greedy. Even with ECO mode off it would produce the layers way to thin to stick while laminating. The following is what I got with it. I used my old ML-2167 to provide the mask for the etching phase, and the solder mask and silkscreen are created with CLP-365

Second test was actually printing two times on the same sheet of paper. That proved stick better.

Unfortunately I couldn’t apply the silkscreen, since this was the time the motor of my lamination machine stopped working. I totally forgot about it and left it working for over an hour heated to 176 degrees and that looked like the end of it. Some of the plastic casing melted… But the last board it produced looked sexy even without the silkscreen:

So on my TODO list is the following:

  • See if I can revive the lamination machine or get yet another one.
  • DO implement auto-shutdown in the firmware to avoid such fails in future (Really, that makes the whole thing worth the Hack-A-Day FAIL_HARD section!).
  • See if I can hack the CLP-365 in software or hardware way to use more toner while printing. foo2qpdl sources look like a nice place to start.
  • Get alternative firmware for my printer that allows cartridge refilling and stock on toner.
  • Grab some of that white toner from ebay, see if I can get it to work with the hardware I have around.
  • Clean up the software, and post the rest of it to github.

Oh, and BTW, I started posting the sources right in here on github
And have a look at more hi-res pics here

So far I’ve opensourced the hardware designs of the laminator control board and the firmware. Userspace stuff and web-ui will follow soon.