There is a way of transferring a design onto metal without using any
The process uses a photocopy or laser printer image (black image)
and acetone. Photocopiers and laser printers use a black powdered
toner...this toner is dissolved by the acetone and transfers to the
This process can be used with simple or complex designs.
This is how to go about the process:
- Your design needs to be a reverse image. If you are saw piercing
or engraving lettering a reverse image can be done with a word
processing program, eg: Microsoft Word. Type the inscription and
arrange it the way you want it to look, then click to reverse the
image. Then print it out. If you only have an inkjet printer, print
the image and then photocopy it. Inkjet printer ink will not
Another way of getting a reverse image is to photocopy onto clear
transparency film. Turn the film over so that the image is reversed
and photocopy it, the paper photocopy image is now reversed.
Images could also be scanned into a computer and then reversed. You
would need a good scanner to get a finely detailed line.
One benefit of modern photocopiers is that the same design can be
scaled up or down to gain various sizes of the image.
The metal surface must be clean. I wipe with acetone on a cloth
to remove any dust or grease film.
Cut unwanted paper from around the design as you would if you
were using the glue technique, but leave about a 20mm tab on one end.
Lay the paper on the metal and fold the tab over the metal edge
and sticky tape the tab on the back of the metal.
Use a clean cloth and wet with acetone, hold the design down
firmly and starting from the tab end press the cloth down firmly and
wipe to the other end of the design. The toner is dissolved and
transfers to the metal. The acetone evaporates in a few seconds, lift
off the paper and you should have a nice black image on the metal.
The transferred toner image is reasonably hard and will not wipe off
This technique can be applied to polished or satin surfaces
A few points to consider:
Make several copies of the design to experiment with.
The photocopied image can only be used once.
A good black line original image will copy much better.
Have the acetone cloth damp and not saturated. The amount of
acetone on the cloth is important to control dissolving the toner.
Paper towelling can be used as an alternative to cloth.
Try to achieve the transfer with one wipe. Repeated wipes can
smudge the image or dissolve the toner off the metal.
When saw piercing use a brush to remove lemel from the surface.
Wiping lemel away with your fingers can scratch the black toner.
Apply acetone in a well ventilated area.
I like the technique because when I am piercing or engraving I am
looking at the metal and not a piece of paper.
I hope that you find this technique helpful.