Acid Etching- Part 1.


  • 1. Materials and safety
  • 2. Methods
  • 2.1 Heat Transfer Method
  • 2.2 Cold Transfer Method (Acetone and alcohol)
  • 2.3 Overview: photo transfer


This is the first of a 2-part mini series, going over some methods for creating your own personal acid-etched circuit boards (or pictures). Part 1 focuses on the image preparation and transfer methods.

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1. Safety & Materials

First off is always the question of what you are going to need; and, often more importantly, how much of it you are going to use. This is where being a firm advocate of overkill comes in handy when buying materials: always buy a little more than you think you need. “Measure twice, cut once” is a good rule of thumb. Assume when you start your own etching projects that the first few will not work out the way you want them to. With that said, here is what you are going to need:

Safety first! You will need:
  • Gloves: Latex keeps your mitts safe and chemical burn free. All the same, gloves are not invincible: be careful.
  • Goggles
  • Common sense: Sometimes it isn’t what you do wrong so much as how wrong you do it.
  • This project (depending on which method you use) represents a significant hazard if done wrong. Always take care when using chemicals and power tools. If you do splash any chemicals on yourself, immediately rinse off the affected area with lots of water, and seek medical attention if necessary. Always work in a well-ventilated area.
  • High gloss laser printer paper
  • single or double sided blank printed circuit board (PCB): it really just depends on your build.
  • A laser printer
  • High grit sandpaper: anything over 800 grit will work well.
  • An iron (steam-free is highly recommended).
  • A surface to print on: I use a scrap piece of laminated wood with a patch of tinfoil taped to it.
  • Hot water: not boiling, you are going to have to stick your hand in it.
  • Ear buds
  • Alcohol: isopropyl alcohol, if you have access to it. If you don’t, 93% pharmacy brand alcohol works fine as well.
  • Lint-free wipes or coffee filters.
  • Acetone: once again, pharmacy grade stuff works just fine.
  • Tools: Anything that will accurately and safely cut the PC board down to the size you need. I used a Dremel rotary tool fitted with a diamond blade. However, any cutting heads should work just fine. You can use any method of cutting that suits you best, but we do not condone the use of a chainsaw in these situations


  • Baking parchment
  • Tinfoil: sometimes for hats, but not today.
  • Tweezers