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|ETCHING COPPER USING A PCB TANK AND A VINYL CUTTER|
|V.Ryan © 2015|
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|The etching process is ‘modernised / simplified’, through the use of a PCB etching tank and a vinyl cutter. The process is relatively straight forward. It is cleaner and safer than the traditional method, explained earlier. Also, even people who are not particularly artistic can use the following technique effectively.|
|Select a piece of clipart or draw a shape / logo, using vector graphics software. If using clipart, it will need converting using the vinyl cutter’s software. For example, Craft Robo software allows the user to import a jpg image and to trace it’s outline. Once the outline has been drawn or captured, it can be cut out of vinyl, using the cutter.|
|Vinyl cutter shown cutting the outline of the jpeg image. HINT - do not waste the vinyl by only cutting one outline. Consider copying and pasting the image several times, so that they can be used sometime in the future. Or, cut the outline of several different images and save them for later use.|
Next, place the ‘vinyl image’ on the copper and press / rub it firmly in position. The outer edge will probably need trimming with a craft knife, so that it fits the copper accurately.
Also, fit vinyl to the back of the copper, so that when it is in tank, the back surface is protected against the etchant solution.
|Using a craft knife carefully, remove the parts of the vinyl, that will allow the etchant to reach the surface of the copper. This will ensure that the etchant solution ‘eats into’ the copper.|
Place the copper with it’s vinyl ‘coat’, into the etchant tank.
HINT - clear etchant works well with copper. However, do a test piece first, especially if you want to determine the length of time required, to produce the finish you are looking for.
|When you are happy with the level of etching, remove the copper from the tank and rinse in clean water. Then remove the remaining vinyl.|
|Use wire wool to clean the entire copper surface. This should make the etched pattern more prominent.|
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