I have just taught myself to do chemical etching on copper and brass
using a paint resist, and scratching into the paint with a scribe. My
goal is to use PnP blue in order to be able to create the kind of
imagery and text I’m after. I thought learning the etch process would
be the hard part… but now that I’ve got that settled I find no one
(Office Max, Office Depot, the library, the drugstore, etc) will let
me run my PnP blue through their photocopier! No one. I’m so
I am going to have to buy a laser printer to dedicate to this
process and I am happy and willing to do it, but don’t want to buy
one which won’t work and will jam. Anyone using PnP blue
successfully with a laser printer, particularly one that is fairly
new so still available?
I bought my PnP blue from Thompson Enamel. (Yes, I called them and
they were no help, they insisted “We’ve never had a problem with
jamming, any printer will work.”) If you have a printer recommend
for me, let me also know where you get your PnP blue. I’m seeing it
in a number of places, and there may be differences between them.
Rachel, I recently gave a workshop on PNP etching and ran into the
same problem you have. Lazerquick refused to do the photocopying as
they now have the new copiers that run too hot for the PNP.
Fortunately, one of the participants in the workshop was kind enough
to let us use the copiers in her office, so that problem was solved.
In the meantime, I learned that Staples carried a small portable
Canon laser copier for about $75,and best of all offered a $45.00
rebate. Everyone in the workshop rushed out to purchase
one–including me. I am happy to report that they work just fine
with the PNP. You might check with Staples to see if they still have
the Canon portable copiers. Even without the rebate they are a good
buy. and as they run slowly, don’t heat up so there is no fear of
melting the PNP.
I don’t use a laser for my pnp, I use a copy machine at Kinkos. I
don’t ask them if I can. I just open the paper drawer, put my pnp in
and print it. No muss, no fuss. Find a self-serve somewhere and do
Rachel, first, it’s not a laser printer you need but a carbon based
one. I go into Kinkos and tell them it’s just another version of
overhead projector sheet. I have a tiny Canon copy machine that
works fine, also Canon D320 (a current model and sometimes available
from Staples/Office Depot for around $150), I used to have a Xerox
home copy machine/printer and that was ok.
As far as I know, there is only 1 producer of PnP. You can get it
from Reactive Metals in small supply. I got mine from the
manufacturer, 100 sheets at a time.
HP laser printers are available from the HP store…try their
closeouts.I got a laserjet1100 for 75 dollars with a 2 year warranty
and bought an extension to that for 15 dollars (5 years all
together) (the toner is around 45 bucks per cartridge). It’s B&W
but serves my needs well. It has an adjustable paper weight lever
that allows for thicker stock,.Office Max had a similar model in a
store for 30 bucks recently so check around your local office supply
co.'s. I registered my business online with staples and officemax and
they send me - it seems weekly coupons like spend 50 bucks get 25
off…and the like…Occasionally they send a card style offer that
requires no purchase limit (i.e.- t"his card good for 40 dollars at
Officemax")…like a free gift card to get you in to the store…rer
I have inquired at OfficeMax and Office Depot’s home office for
clarification. We sell thousands of sheets of PNP Blue and never had
a jamming complaint. Local managers may be just making up the rules.
I would gladly contact the manager of your local stores. Get me a
direct Email address to a manager and let me chew on them a bit.
Now, there is a reason to do it yourself. That is control. We have
seen problems arise when a store changes machines, components, and
pigment sources. Any or all of these could cause failures or at least
unexpected changes. That will usually happen when you have a dead
line. Also very frustrating and time consuming because you have to
trouble shoot every step of the process to find what went wrong.
We regularly run PnP through the Office Max copiers. But we don’t
ask anybody, we put it in the bypass tray that pulls down on the
left. We usually forget which side gets printed so we do a few
practice runs with white paper, marking the “up” side so we know
which side will get printed on and checking contrast and overall
print quality. The do-it-yourself machines have settings that are
pretty intuitive–when you’re ready to print on the PnP, set the
machine for transparencies. We don’t make any secret of it but no one
has ever asked us what that blue stuff is that we’re running through
I read where some of you are using Kinko to print your PNP. I was
informed that Kinko now uses an ink which is not carbon based and
will not hold up during the etching process. Have I been misinformed?
Why bother with PnP Blue? If you get a laser printer you can do just
as well with easily available or free! ordinary paper. The printed
circuit making community has been doing this for quite some time and
the technology is the same as you are wanting to use - i.e. etching
patterns into copper.
gives some instructions in detail but uses inkjet photo paper as the
transfer medium - this isn’t essential and other paper will usually
work just as well. I have had good success with the thin glossy paper
used in travel brochures, TV listings magazines etc. The fact that
the page is printed on makes no difference as the print is ink which
is soaked into the paper, however, it is best to avoid pages with
large areas of dark colour - if only because it is difficult to see
your own image! The image has to be printed in reverse so that the
etching comes out the right way round. When the print has been
transferred using a hot iron (domestic - no steam), the paper is
simply soaked away using warm soapy water which then leaves the toner
on the metal as a very effective resist. Any tiny holes in the toner
can be touched in with a permanent marker pen or a little enamel
paint. More on this method is here -*
Rachel - I have used HP Laser Printers very successfully for many
years for PNP printing. You do want to set your printing program to
maximize the print quality. I have heard (but do not have personal
data to back it up) that Brother laser printers do not work as well
for this application.
BBR - Sandi Graves
Stormcloud Trading Co (Beadstorm)
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Thanks all for replying with so many suggestions and ideas. And
thanks, Bill, for all your advice yesterday. For me the option of
going into the local Office Max or Office Depot and simply loading
the PnP in the feeder tray is not viable. I do not know their
machines, and if I were to use one that ran too hot and melted the
PnP I would be in big trouble. I’m sure they would make me pay for
repair and ban me from the store! That’s just my concern. Many of
you seem to have navigated things this way very well. I’m just too
nervous to do it.
But I think Bill is right, the issue is also one of control. I’ve
gotten several suggestions for printers, and also been advised that
almost any printer will work. My issue here is that I needed a
specific model that was working for someone, and it had to be fairly
new since I run both my PC and my Mac on current operating systems,
and I generate art on both, depending on the program I want to work
Alma came up with the best solution for me… the Canon PC 170 laser
copier. It came in at a price that was no more than I would have
spent for an inexpensive laser printer, and completely bypasses any
operating system/printer driver compatibility issues. I just ordered
one off Amazon, with a full toner cartridge (it only comes with a
“starter” cartridge) and I’m looking forward to getting it a moving
forward into the agony and ecstasy of learning the best way for me
to do the transfers onto brass and copper.
The fact that Alma and her students are successfully using it for
PnP gives me peace of mind.
Even though the Canon PC170 comes with a starter cartridge, they
claim it is good for 1000 prints—which is a lot of prints if one
is using it mainly for PNP. When a new cartridge is needed, if one
desired, they could get the larger one which fits the PC170, and they
could get more copies from it. In other words one has a choice of the
size cartridge. As I use my PC170, only for PNP (I have another
copier for regular use), the starter cartridge will last a long time.
My students and I have been using the portable PC170, and it does a
great job with the PNP. No problems whatsoever. It is quite handy to
have one’s own copier which saves a trip to the local photocopy
places. My local lazerquick will not allow any transfer paper used
except their own as their new high speed machines do run very hot.
So for me, having my own photocopier is a real convenience.
Yes, Ian, I’ve read all about this method. I spent a lot of time
lurking and then posting on the electronics forums while I was
figuring out what printer or copier to get. I’m going to definitely
try my PnP (since I already have it) but using magazine paper (which
is basically clay coated paper, which you can also buy as such) is
an interesting option and who knows where I’ll end up with this.
My impression is that the circuit board folks are mostly concerned
with cost. They are working on larger pieces (circuit boards) and
need to make lots of them, so PnP blue is costly for them. I’m
thinking that one piece of PnP will go a long way for me, I don’t do
any production work, every piece is one off, and I work fairly
small, and intend to use the etched metal for components in
mixed-media/mixed metal jewelry. But I’ll see how long it takes me
to run through the PnP (or whether I like the PnP) and then see.
Thanks for the suggestion and the link. I’ll bookmark it should I
get to where I want to try it.