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Old 9th Nov 2019, 8:59 am   #1
wireless_john
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Default Nail Varnish as Etch Resist

I am drawing a PCB layout with a Dalo pen at the moment. I have two pens that I've had for years and they still work!

There are a couple of large areas of copper that I want to leave and I know from experience that trying to block out a large area with a Dalo pen is not easy! Uses a lot of ink too.

I read on another thread on here that someone had used nail varnish as an etch resist so before I go off to the Pound shop to get some, has anyone else tried this?

John
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Old 9th Nov 2019, 9:25 am   #2
Craig Sawyers
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Default Re: Nail Varnish as Etch Resist

Back in the day in the early 70s I used nail varnish as an etch resist. If my rather foggy memory looking back half a century is correct, it worked just fine.

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Old 9th Nov 2019, 11:33 am   #3
Refugee
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Default Re: Nail Varnish as Etch Resist

Sticky backed plastic works too especially sticky letters for any input/output markings.
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Old 9th Nov 2019, 12:05 pm   #4
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Default Re: Nail Varnish as Etch Resist

I used to 'borrow' my mum's nail varnish. It worked very well.
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Old 9th Nov 2019, 12:19 pm   #5
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Default Re: Nail Varnish as Etch Resist

Yes, nail varnish works well - though it can be a bit tricky to apply (it can drag and form annoying 'strings' if you take your time applying it and it starts to dry).

I alsi tried "Tipp-ex" correction-fluid as an etch-resist, with less-than-impressive results.
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Old 9th Nov 2019, 3:49 pm   #6
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Default Re: Nail Varnish as Etch Resist

Thanks for your replies. I'll give it a go then. Interesting about the sticky backed plastic. I might try that as well. I have a roll of it that I use when I make a front panel for something.

I draw the front panel with Microsoft Paint. Print it on 100g+ paper then cover it with sticky backed plastic. Then glue it to the front panel. So I've got plenty!!

John
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Old 9th Nov 2019, 4:30 pm   #7
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Default Re: Nail Varnish as Etch Resist

Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig Sawyers View Post
Back in the day in the early 70s I used nail varnish as an etch resist. If my rather foggy memory looking back half a century is correct, it worked just fine.

Craig
I've mentioned before that I used this method to make a keypad for a xylophone using the magazine as a template ,drawingit through carbon paper to show the gaps,then removing the gaps with a nail . Worked a dream.
An alternative at 5that time ( may still be available ) was nail varnish pens. I asked Swimbo to look out for one, but she never seen any except in magazines.
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Old 9th Nov 2019, 7:31 pm   #8
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Default Re: Nail Varnish as Etch Resist

I rarely etch boards now but for psu projects etc I have used car scratch repair (clear coat ) repair pens available at little cost for large heatsink or RF groundplane. Readily bought online and in car paint accessory outlets.

Regards

Mike
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Old 9th Nov 2019, 11:54 pm   #9
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Default Re: Nail Varnish as Etch Resist

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Originally Posted by VT FUSE View Post
I rarely etch boards now but for psu projects etc I have used car scratch repair (clear coat ) repair pens available at little cost for large heatsink or RF groundplane. Readily bought online and in car paint accessory outlets.

Regards

Mike
That sounds like a good idea! Thanks.

John
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Old 10th Nov 2019, 4:19 am   #10
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Default Re: Nail Varnish as Etch Resist

There are two types of nail varnish too. One is pure acrylic, the type you want, made using acetone and the "cheaper" child safe stuff, which I can't be sure of, but seems to be made from thin PVA glue. It's not so suitable.

Joe
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Old 10th Nov 2019, 12:51 pm   #11
wireless_john
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Default Re: Nail Varnish as Etch Resist

Thanks for that - don't know a lot about nail varnish! I suppose if it smells of acetone, then that's the one. I'll check before I get any in the Pound Shop. My wife is sorting some old ones for me too.

John
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Old 10th Nov 2019, 1:22 pm   #12
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Default Re: Nail Varnish as Etch Resist

The chemical reaction between copper and etchant (traditionally ferric chloride, other chemicals are available) takes place in aqueous solution, so anything that does not let water through and doesn't itself react with either copper or etchant will work as an etch-resist.

Most nail polish is solvent-based and does an excellent job of excluding moisture if it is applied to clean, dry copper (perhaps slightly roughened with steel wool or similar to help with adhesion). There are water-based types available, but they are not yet so common; no doubt mass production and health, welfare and environmental concerns will change this. Usual mantra applies: If in doubt, test it.

Pound store nail polish is good stuff to have in the workshop anyway, for general marking and thread locking duties; it's already in a messy-bench-friendly, short, fat, narrow-necked container, and it even comes with its own brush.
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Old Today, 1:03 pm   #13
wireless_john
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Default Re: Nail Varnish as Etch Resist

Well, I can now report that nail varnish works well! So long as it's the stuff that smells strongly of solvent or something similar.

You will need a bottle of cheap nail varnish remover of some sort to get it off again after etching. White spirit doesn't touch it. My wife gave me an old bottle of varnish that used to belong to one of my children. It's called 'Twilight Teaser'

Basically, it's pink and that's not so good as it's close to the colour of the clean copper and not so easy to see where you've been with it. Black would be better along with a fine artists brush if you want fine lines. The brush that comes with the bottle is OK for large areas, ground planes and so on.

John
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Old Today, 1:10 pm   #14
Terry_VK5TM
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Default Re: Nail Varnish as Etch Resist

Nail varnish remover, cheap or otherwise, is usually acetone based, so anything acetone based can be used to remove it.

One BIG proviso when doing this - do it in a well ventilated place, acetone can have very nasty side effects which I can attest to (in my case, luckily, short term).
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Old Today, 10:10 pm   #15
Oldcodger
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Default Re: Nail Varnish as Etch Resist

Back on #7, I mentioned nail varnish pens.( solves the fine brush problem in #13) Swimbo has found that these are available on e bay for less than a couple of . She suggests the Gel coat ones ( no need for UV, as the varnish dries in air), but this type are more resistant to problems .( Nice to have a wife who likes to get involved ).
She also tells me that the stuff that needs to be cured with UV, needs a special remover. She did mention that she'd seen it in Poundland.

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