The Cold Transfer Method.

This one is a bit more involved. This method is relatively (or near completely) unknown, and I’ve only seen it used in one place, ( click here to view the Instructable) but color me intrigued. As the very first sentence implies, you are going to have to do this a couple of times to get the hang of it.

Here’s the long and short of it: acetone likes the ink and will readily dissolve it, bringing it to that all too important “gooey” stage that the image needs to be at, BUT (and this is a big but), pure acetone will cause smudging. This method is pretty much the same as the first, but instead of using an iron, you are going to use a mixture of alcohol and acetone to make the image stick. The important thing to remember here is that this was designed for a very specific purpose, to create large prints. The reason for this is because any material that is heated up will want to expand, thus the larger the surface area, the larger the shrinkage that you are going to have to deal with after the fact, which can be hugely detrimental if it’s a complex build. For small scale boards like the ones we are planning that doesn’t matter. So why do it? Because I can, and there is no real reason for me not to.

First step: get a sealable container. It has to seal tight, because acetone likes to be a gas and will readily evaporate if given the chance. Alcohol will try to do the same, just not as fast. The premise of this method is that transferring the image becomes easier because of the volatility of acetone. The image doesn’t stay “wet” very long, so it doesn’t become a hassle to keep it in place for an extended period of time. However, this volatility makes the method harder to use, because if the image isn’t placed quickly (depending on your ambient temperature)the acetone may dissipate before any work is even done. Thus it’s best to keep things organized. Now for numbers:

There is no empirical way with this project to define a success. If a transfer occurs, HOORAY! If not, go back and try again. My first attempt was with an 80% alcohol to 20% acetone mix. And that failed, with no indication of what went wrong; it just stayed put. The next was 60% to 40% and still no luck. At this point I built a small yet sturdy coffee table, flipped it and went back; this time using pure acetone. To my surprise, this actually showed some promise! Sure, half the image did not transfer, but hey, at least it was something. So, rinse and repeat, this time using more acetone and pressing down hard on a block I put on top. Again only a partial transfer occurred, but baby steps. Next up I found a plastic bottle that had just enough give to not tear the paper. Using it like the sharp edge of an iron, I pressed down the image and cha bam, a complete image, just one smudged beyond recognition. Still, progress. Working backwards this time led to a 50/50 split again: nothing.

So jump ahead to the king of the hill :a 30% alcohol to 70% of acetone mix, a perfect example of how underwhelming success can be. This was still not a perfect situation because there was never a full transfer. There was always a piece of the image missing and during the washing stages pieces also came off. At which point you may ask if I'd I read enough of the Instructable? Probably not.

My opinion at the end? This method is cool, and shows how outside the box thinking can make something useful, but I don’t have the patience to deal with it. The key here is to try and expect failure, which isn’t the worst. Just run the board down with some acetone and you’ll be good to go again.