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Author Topic: Brass etching - FAIL  (Read 50978 times)
jringling
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« Reply #25 on: August 28, 2009, 08:34:54 pm »

I am surprised that it is the bubbles forming on the plate that causes the pixelation. I figured it was only the mask...
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Professor Damien Tremens
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« Reply #26 on: August 31, 2009, 03:27:17 am »

I am surprised that it is the bubbles forming on the plate that causes the pixelation. I figured it was only the mask...


If you look at the etch here, you can see the pits caused by the bubbles not being dispersed in a regular fashion,
causing the characteristic pitting. The area in the white box is a prime example of what can happen, but you can see
similar results in most of the etched ares in the areas of fine line detail.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
The actual size of the etched area in the image above is 3-3/4" by 1-1/8".

Go here and download the full rez image if you want to see the result in more detail.

In traditional acid etching a feather is used to waft off the bubbles...


I now recall that from my printmaking classes in college. It works quite well in a normal flat pan where you are
able to directly see the plate being etched (nitric acid in the case of the metal plates we were using in the class).
The etching setup we use with two plates for the electrical current, and the custom plate carrier I use to
keep the positive [plate that is being etched] and negative plates at a constant distance away from each other
there isn't enough space between them to easily get a feather in there to brush them down. I keep the spacing at
about 1/4" between the plates as they etch.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2009, 03:35:28 am by Professor Damien Tremens » Logged

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« Reply #27 on: September 02, 2009, 10:08:56 pm »

Current is a result of Voltage passing through Resistance (I=E/R).  If you add a larger motor or a higher watt bulb, you will get more current.
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« Reply #28 on: September 06, 2009, 11:27:07 pm »

I seem to learn this art the hard way. After I sorted out the electrical problems, and etched a few nameplates for the little boy, I got ambitious and took on a lamp project. The wooden things are cut and filed, pickled, varnished, but the thing was designed with several brass ornaments, which are actually needed for structure. I designed them with Photoshop, saved, uploaded for myself, and thought 'okay, I'll be at the office on Friday, print it, and be done in a few days'. (My household printer is an inkjet, but there is a heavy-duty laser at my workplace.) I knew I needed inkjet photo paper for this, which I happen to have at home, it is a high-end, high-gloss Canon Photo Paper Pro. Actually I had to reset the printer after every print, but it seemed fine.

As soon as I got home, I took a piece of brass, cleaned it with steel wool and alcohol, ironed on the mask, soaked in water and lo and behold, only a few lines managed it to the metal. (It was a small sample, about 6x6 cm.) So, I said, perhaps it wasn't clean enough. Treated with paint stripper (an acetone-based liquid), steel wool, rubbing alcohol until there was no black residue on the cloth. Fired up the iron again, and pressed and heated it and pressed and heated. Still no success. I have been doing this all weekend. Some of the pattern sticks, but none was transferred to be ready to etched. I'm not talking about minuscule holes here, but a complete fail.

The brass must have been almost chemically clean. Even tried to pre-etch for a few minutes. The iron on maximum, has no Celsius scale but its 1200W. Pressed like hell, for minutes. I can only think that my photo paper is unsuitable for this. The packaging shows a rather complicated, multi-layered structure, which may trap the toner. I hope the printer is OK, but I won't be seeing it until next Friday. I may try to get a pack of glossy paper, and go to a photocopier. I wonder if they accept an off-schedule paper, I'm afraid they won't.
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« Reply #29 on: September 06, 2009, 11:33:26 pm »

Some lazer printers dont work Sad specifically brother brand ones, perhaps you could try different paper?
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Gozdom
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« Reply #30 on: September 06, 2009, 11:56:39 pm »

It is a Kyocera. Big one. Where the toner trasferred, it was perfect, crisp, and sticking so well I could hardly remove it. But that was about 2 square cm from a 6x6 pattern. It must be the paper, too high end or something. At least I hope so, because I have no access to another printer! Except the photocopier, which I'll check out with my weird orders...

Oops, there is another trick I did not use: pre-heating the brass with the iron before putting on the paper. I'll try that tomorrow.
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« Reply #31 on: September 07, 2009, 03:26:54 pm »

So for that method can you only use a laser printer? I tried it with an inkjet and some glossy photo paper, and nothing happened. I wasn't expecting it to work, so I wasn't dissapointed, but is it because it doesn't work with inkjet?
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Gozdom
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« Reply #32 on: September 07, 2009, 03:38:25 pm »

No it won't work. Inkjet is water-soluble, so even if you could transfer it, it'd not act as a resist. Laser toner is actually not ink but a kind of plastic, which can be melted onto the brass. Well, it should melt onto it...
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alfa1
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« Reply #33 on: September 07, 2009, 05:22:15 pm »

It is a Kyocera. Big one. Where the toner trasferred, it was perfect, crisp, and sticking so well I could hardly remove it.


I've started doing some more brass etching for a project now, and initially I had the same problem.
As you can see in places the ironing DOES work, so there is nothing wrong with the paper, printer or the cleanliness of the brass, just the patchy transfer.

Turns out, after holding my iron onto a piece of wood for a minute, I could see the resulting heat/scorch pattern is decidedly non-uniform.   Perhaps some heating elements in my iron dont work anymore?   
Anyway, my solution was to *rotate* the iron during the course of the ironing to ensure the artwork gets even heat treatment.   

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« Reply #34 on: September 07, 2009, 05:27:45 pm »

You need to heat whatever you are transfaring for a good few minutes on a high temperature and move your iron around.
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Gozdom
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« Reply #35 on: September 07, 2009, 09:17:22 pm »

Duh, I moved it around for ages now! Put it on the paper, pressed and held, moved downwards half an inch, and so on, for about 20 minutes with a small piece. And it is definitely hot! Something must be wrong with the materials! But I'll find out in a few weeks. At least I have no deadline.
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« Reply #36 on: September 08, 2009, 02:03:32 am »

It occurs to me to wonder whether you are allowing enough time for the toner to cool and set before removing the paper.
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« Reply #37 on: September 08, 2009, 02:25:35 am »

It occurs to me to wonder whether you are allowing enough time for the toner to cool and set before removing the paper.

Yeah you're supposed to quench it in cold water before you remove anything really.
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Professor Damien Tremens
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« Reply #38 on: September 08, 2009, 11:44:02 pm »

According to the research I've done, and also from personal experience, you want to use the cheapest
quality version of the glossy inkjet photo paper that you can get. (I'm using OfficeMax "Everyday
Glossy Photo Paper", stock # OM96749) The reasoning on this is that the higher end papers tend to
have a lower plastic content on the surface, and thus allow the laser printer toner to bond better
with the paper.  The cheap stuff has a lot of plastic, so the laser printer toner doesn't bond as well
with the surface of the paper and thus is easier to transfer off.

Next, try to do the transfer within a few hours of printing the design. I've found that if I print the design,
and then don't get around to actually trying to transfer it to the plate fora couple days, the process seems
to be much more failure prone. In addition, if I can fit them on a single page, I always have multiple copies
of the design printed at the same time to let me redo the transfer if it doesn't work out well.

You do have to let the paper and the brass plate cool down after you iron it, before you try anything else.
My condo has concrete floors (can you say heat sink?), so I tend to just lay the plate on the floor for ten
minutes, before I move on to removing the paper backing. Make sure you have properly soaked the paper
before you try to remove it. I have a dedicated pyrex baking dish that I'm using only for etching related
things, such as soaking the ironed plates.

Cleaning the plate is kind of hit or miss for me at times, but I've had the most luck with using steel wool,
Comet cleaner, and water. When you are rinsing everything off, the water should "sheet" off of the metal,
with no beading on the surface. I've tried the straight alcohol wipe downs, and it doesn't seem to work as
well for me as the Comet does. The key thing is to get any oils or grease off of the plate surface.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2009, 03:39:15 am by Professor Damien Tremens » Logged
Gozdom
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« Reply #39 on: September 09, 2009, 12:23:09 am »

That's exactly what I came to, about the high-end photo paper. It seems to absorb the toner; actually it is indicated to have an absorption layer (out of 5 layers) under the glossy coat. It is probably not the iron: I tried it with the brass plate put on an electric stove, and the iron on top, it must have been really hot in there. Still, the toner only came off in little chunks, most of it stayed with the paper. Will try with plain glossy paper, I don't want to waste expensive materials when unnecessary. However, transferring within a few hours will not work for me. The office is too far away and I get home too late.

An exciting experience, this is. I work with computers most of the time, sometimes it's really shocking to find there is no Undo button and cutting, bending, coloring brass, or even pinewood is somewhat harder than selecting with the mouse pointer and clicking Cut or Paint (not to mention Emboss). But so much more rewarding.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2009, 04:26:13 am by Gozdom » Logged
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« Reply #40 on: September 09, 2009, 04:35:29 am »

A specific note on removing the inkjet paper masking...

The paper I use has three distinct "layers" to them, which are removed in distinctly different ways.

I place the whole ironed plate into a dish of water, then scuff the back of the paper with my
fingernails over the entire surface. You can see if you've scratched hard enough as the paper
will darken when it is able to get through the plastic-y coating on the outer surface. (Yes, even
the back of the paper seems to have some kind of plastic on it.)

After it's scuffed up, let it soak for a minute or two. (You will usually be able to tell at this point if
you have a solid transfer by seeing if any bubbles start forming in the paper.) Now peel off the
back part of the paper (Layer 1). You should be able to get it started easily by just scratching at
the edge of the paper, it'll start to separate fairly easily. Once you have the first top layer of paper
off, you can then start to lightly rub the bulk of the paper off with your fingertips (Layer 2). I do
all of this with the plate sitting in about 1/4" of water.

The final layer just above the toner is the shiny plastic you actually printed on. This is the most delicate
part of the removal, and where you will spend the most time. You *only* need to remove this layer
where you can see the brass underneath. If you're seeing black toner, don't waste time on it since it's not
an area where you will want to etch, so no need to remove the plastic there. My tools of choice? For bulk
removal I use a soft toothbrush. Gently scrub back and forth, keeping the area wet, and rinsing it off
occasionally to clear the working field. Keep an eye on where you are working, and stop if you start to peel
up large sections of toner. (Small sections you can patch in with fingernail polish or a fresh permanent marker
for smaller spots. For fine detail edging/lines, I use toothpicks or bamboo skewers to pick out stubborn bits.
You can tell if the final layer is gone by looking at the reflected light. It is much brighter in areas where you
have gotten things down to the bare brass.
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alfa1
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« Reply #41 on: September 10, 2009, 06:52:37 am »

A specific note on removing the inkjet paper masking...
The paper I use has three distinct "layers" to them, which are removed in distinctly different ways.



I'll agree with this layer effect, and also the comment earlier about using the cheapest paper.
For this latest round of etching, I first tried some (relatively expensive) Kodak Premium Photo Paper that I had already, which didnt want to transfer at all.    Then I bought some cheaper paper, which was better.
Lastly, I found some even cheaper stuff in another shop, which works best of all.

A little something hot off the presses...


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stockton_joans
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« Reply #42 on: September 10, 2009, 12:32:48 pm »

i had a lot of problems useing laser printer / photo paper method so i tried Press & peel blue.
http://www.techniks.com/
the proccess is the same, you prinf the reverse, inverted design onto the press & peel and iron it on but this stuff is designd and sold for making your own printed circuit boards,

i had much better results with this and its not too expensive.
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jringling
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« Reply #43 on: September 10, 2009, 02:00:01 pm »

I use the blue paper sold by Pulsar

http://www.pulsarprofx.com/PCBfx/main_site/pages/products/transfer_paper/transfer_paper.html

Great stuff. Last time I ordered, it was $15.00 USD for 10 sheets.
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Gozdom
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« Reply #44 on: September 12, 2009, 02:20:43 pm »

So, I bought another type of photo paper, and it seems to work. Not near perfect, some of the toner came off with the paper, but this might be because I rushed it a bit, and the brass piece was slightly dented. But that's repairable with OHP marker. I also have overhead transparency, which I'll try today. Unfortunately I don't know what paper this new one is, for it was sold per sheet at the local papershop, but I'll check.

Let that be a lesson for the ones to come: Canon Photo Paper Pro (PR-101) is not to be used for this purpose.
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Gozdom
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« Reply #45 on: September 13, 2009, 01:11:34 am »

Results with the new photo paper are still rather unreliable. Most patterns can be repaired, some cannot. I had a hard time removing the last bits of paper (and especially the glossy plastic) from small holes and tight curves.

Overhead transparency, on the other hand, is VERY good at transferring. A piece of newspaper is needed between it and the iron. Even better, it can be peeled off right after cooling. It does smear a bit however, I guess I'll need to learn mastering the iron (putting myself at the risk of having to use it on umm... clothes if my wife finds out). Transparency is less good with large masked surfaces, these tend to be lighter at their center. Perhaps the fumes lift the foil when heated? Not a big problem though, that's the easiest to repair.
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planish09
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« Reply #46 on: September 16, 2009, 09:03:37 pm »

hi guys im new to all this and noticed the thread last week after having a few days of nothing happening i also tried to etch copper plate using the salt method
i used on the first day half a cup of salt to a litre of deiornised water  negative on the screw positive on plate screw was fizzing nicely however very minimal etch i used 2d cell batterys in line.and left it for two hours
2 day used 1 cup of salt to 1ltr of deironised water same method using a 9v battery for seven hours it did etch but minimal
i cleaned the copper with the dremmel then cleaned it to remove grease from my fingers drew desighn used plastic tweezers to pick up and attatch positive to plate and negative to screw as shown in diagram  but still no real etch any help apreciated
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« Reply #47 on: September 16, 2009, 10:02:48 pm »

more amperage, not voltage is what you need. an old battery charger for a car will work wonders.  even an old one out of a resale shop will work nicely.  Simpler the better. 
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« Reply #48 on: September 17, 2009, 03:46:58 am »

hi guys im new to all this and noticed the thread last week after having a few days of nothing happening i also tried to etch copper plate using the salt method
i used on the first day half a cup of salt to a litre of deiornised water  negative on the screw positive on plate screw was fizzing nicely however very minimal etch i used 2d cell batterys in line.and left it for two hours
2 day used 1 cup of salt to 1ltr of deironised water same method using a 9v battery for seven hours it did etch but minimal
i cleaned the copper with the dremmel then cleaned it to remove grease from my fingers drew desighn used plastic tweezers to pick up and attatch positive to plate and negative to screw as shown in diagram  but still no real etch any help apreciated

Two things. First, make sure you are using pure salt, not table salt or sea salt. Morton's Canning Salt (it sells here in the US in a green paper
box) is ideal. Regular Morton's table or Iodized salts have added chemicals (iodine and anti-caking agents) that can affect how things etch.
Secondly, you don't really use a specific amount of salt to water. Just keep adding salt (and stir it occasionally) until it simply won't dissolve
into the water any more. My 2 quart storage tupperware jug that I use to hold my etching water has about a 1/4" of salt at the bottom that
simply refuses to dissolve. This process usually takes a day or so to fully arrive at the supersaturated saline solution that you want to be using.
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« Reply #49 on: September 29, 2009, 04:48:20 pm »

hi guys me once again,I'm still having trouble with this whole etching thing i have a car battery charger now some nice new brass sheet
now everything is set up as should how ever timing seems to be a big factor after forty five Min's very little etch
now i am using sea salt which i see from your last comments are not suitable so this may be the problem
how ever does anyone of you fine ladies or gents have any idea were i may purchase pure salt from in the UK
secondly i have been using a sharpie to mask out my pattern as suggested somewhere else  on the net more advice much appreciated
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