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Where To Get Sets and Parts For discussions about swapmeets, rallies, NVCF and BVWS, car boot sales, antique and charity shops, dealers, newspaper adverts, the local tip and just about any other source of equipment (other than eBay).

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Old 5th Aug 2019, 2:28 pm   #1
David G4EBT
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Default Micro-Porous film for PCB masks - Homecrafts closing down!

I know that PCB making is something of a minority interest on the forum, and those who are involved will use a range of methods, whether toner transfer or UV. For those such as myself who use the UV process, the first hurdle is to create either a positive or negative acetate mask which will be perfectly opaque where required.

Modern home printers of whatever make and model, whether laser or ink jet, seem to make a very poor job when using normal OHP type film, even when two or three copies are taped over each other to try to improve the density. A downside of that is that the areas of the mask that need to be transparent also become less so when copies are placed one over another.

I've never found other methods of creating a mask very satisfactory, such as printing on tracing paper (known outside the UK as 'vegetal' paper). I know that it's said that spraying the paper with WD40 helps to make it more transparent, but it's never worked for me, neither has 'transparentiser' spray.

The only acetate film that I've come across which makes excellent masks is known as 'micro-porous film' which is coated in a way that absorbs ink, and the only UK source I've found for it is Homecrafts:

https://www.homecrafts.co.uk/catalog...o+Porous+Paper

(They also supply ink-jet and laser water-slide transfer paper, but that can be found elsewhere, from 'Mr Decal Paper' for example).

I've just had notification that Homecrafts is shortly to close down, so I've ordered a couple of packs of film to keep me going. Anyone else on the forum who uses the film might wish to do likewise.

Rambling off the topic of PCB acetates, how sad to see the impending demise of Homecrafts, given it's origins. Although only branded as Homecrafts in 1994, the company goes back to 1907 when Harry Peach founded Dryad Handicrafts. The same family who were part of Dryad are involved with Homecrafts today.

Not sure why he chose 'Dryad' for his company name - a Dryad is a tree nymph or tree spirit in Greek mythology. Drys signifies "oak" in Greek, and dryads are specifically the nymphs of oak trees, but the term has come to be used for all tree nymphs in general, or all human-tree hybrids in fantasy.

Those of us who are long enough in the tooth will remember Dryad Handicrafts as a household name in the 40s and 50s, supplying all sorts of craft materials for the home and schools, such as lampshade materials, raffia and cane for basket weaving, along with instructional ‘how to do it’ leaflets and booklets on a wide range of crafts.

Initially Harry Peach founded a furniture company, ‘Dryad Works’. During the First World War, they provided a Leicester hospital with off-cuts of cane for basket-making by wounded soldiers. There was a growing demand for cane and other craft materials for use in occupational therapy and in schools. Hence, Harry Peach set up Dryad Handicrafts as an offshoot of his business, to supply this demand.

He was very active during the inter-war period when there was a huge revival of crafts with its roots in the Arts and Crafts movement. He believed in quality and education, and that if children were taught how to craft and design, they would grow up to demand quality goods. How different today - schools have dismantled well-equipped metalwork and woodwork workshops and other crafts such as pottery. All that seems to matter nowadays is 'coding and gaming' - not how to make or mend things.

Homecraft have supplied materials for cardmakers, weavers, painters, felters, printmakers, woodwork and metalworkers, sculptors, knitters, artists and a host of other crafts. I guess that there are other firms and internet suppliers to meet those diminishing needs.

Harry Peach and his cohort had quite an influence with the Arts & Crafts movement in Leicester:

https://gimson.leicester.gov.uk/leic...ach-and-dryad/

Waffling and dribbling again - sorry!
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Old 5th Aug 2019, 4:21 pm   #2
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Default Re: Micro-Porous film for PCB masks - Homecrafts closing down!

Thanks for this. I don't need any of your stuff, but I see that they do stock "Studio Gum" (the replacement for Cow Gum) rubber solution, and have ordered a couple of tins, as well as some replacement sponges for my Antex soldering iron. My last tube of genuine Cow Gum is almost exhausted.
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Old 5th Aug 2019, 5:07 pm   #3
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Default Re: Micro-Porous film for PCB masks - Homecrafts closing down!

Thanks for reading my post - glad the link proved useful.
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Old 5th Aug 2019, 5:54 pm   #4
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Default Re: Micro-Porous film for PCB masks - Homecrafts closing down!

In view of the problems in getting 60/40 solder noted in another thread, I note that they have stocks of it that will probably be only too ready to dispose of! Also proper "Antex" soldering irons.
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Old 5th Aug 2019, 6:53 pm   #5
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Default Re: Micro-Porous film for PCB masks - Homecrafts closing down!

A quick browse of their catalogue will show just home broad the range of crafting materials is. Every type of paper and card, screen printing materials, inks, paints, hat making materials. Admittedly a lot of their lines aren't relevant to us, but I think they'll be missed by many and I don't think the likes of Hobbycraft or The Range quite fit the bill.

I notice that micro-porous film is available at £1.00 a sheet from several internet suppliers, one of who seems to be Crafty Computer Paper, which - like Homecrafts was based in Leicester and as I recall ceased trading some years ago, so it's a bit odd to see the offerings on eBay. (Maybe it's old stock acquired from Crafty Computer Paper?). According to the accounts at Companies House, up to August 2018, Crafty Computer Paper is a dormant company with share capital of £100. It's last trading accounts were for August 2011, which showed a loss of £100,507.

https://www.companiesintheuk.co.uk/f...08-31/69977824

It was an excellent firm - I often bought clear and white waterslide 'decal' paper from them.

They did some useful little 'how to' videos on youtube, such as this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvWjEcSKnwY

(My 20 sheets of micro-porous film from Homecrafts cost me £16.00 inc P&P, so cheaper than eBay).
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Old 5th Aug 2019, 10:07 pm   #6
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Default Re: Micro-Porous film for PCB masks - Homecrafts closing down!

David ,as I mentioned sometime in past on PCB posts ( for which I am grateful for your input in bringing my methods up to date ), HOBBYCRAFT sell packs of ( from memory ) 5 sheets of film for use in inkjet printers . It (AFAIK) idntical to that you mentioned in that it accepts inkjet on one side . Price- long time since I bought any ,but (again from memory) less than £5 .
ETA -PRICE IS £3 per pack of 5.
https://www.hobbycraft.co.uk/stix-2-...ntable+acetate
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Old 6th Aug 2019, 10:00 am   #7
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Default Re: Micro-Porous film for PCB masks - Homecrafts closing down!

Thanks for reading the thread and for the link O.C.

The description of those sheets seems to be primarily for crafting - using marker pens, making windows for models etc. Though it does say they're 'printable' there's no mention of them being coated or specifically for use in ink jet printers or for OHP purposes. I'll certainly check them out when I'm in Hobbycrafts. I think that with all acetate sheets, much depends on the make and model of printer.

I used to use these coated OHP acetates, which are now 50 sheets for £12.06 (were £15.03 in 2012!):

https://www.amazon.co.uk/INKJET-CLEA.../dp/B000KJO7BO

They were excellent when I had an HP Photosmart printer, but when that died on me and I bought an Epson the results were very poor whatever setting I used for printing. I've tried all of the settings in my printer software, but none of them produce acceptable results with those sheets. I wrote a review on 29 March 2012 entitled 'Excellent sheets - blame Epson, not the acetates!'

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/customer...SIN=B000KJO7BO

On 10 October 2012 another user with an Epson ink jet wrote a review entitled 'Epson experiments paid off':

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/customer...SIN=B000KJO7BO

The ten most critical ( 1star) reviews of those acetates are for 2019, which suggest that the sheets differ from the originals and are inferior.

In trawling internet, I've come across these, which sound promising.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Inkjet-Acet...5QCETSWZFX7GST

Of the reviews, 86% are 5 star, 14% are four star, and no critical reviews:

25 x A4 OHP Inkjet Acetate Film Sheets 135 Micron, Instant Dry.

Reasonably priced at £9.49 for 25 = 38p each.

For now, I'm well stocked up with the micro-porous film sold by Homecrafts.
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Old 6th Aug 2019, 10:12 am   #8
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Default Re: Micro-Porous film for PCB masks - Homecrafts closing down!

Although I haven’t used it yet I bought some Transcopy acetate sheets that are suitable for laser printers from Seawhite of Brighton, although they are not actually in Brighton. I saw the samples on show which were really dense black.
I was with wife when she was buying artist materials.
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Old 6th Aug 2019, 11:06 am   #9
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Default Re: Micro-Porous film for PCB masks - Homecrafts closing down!

Before we got a scanner st work, I used to have to copy drawings on transparent sheets to make mirror-image versions. On one occasion some transparencies intended for ink jet printing got mixed up with the laser sheets, and when I used one it melted, wrapping itself around the photocopier's fuser drum. We had to get the service engineer out to fit a replacement.
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Old 7th Aug 2019, 8:59 am   #10
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Default Re: Micro-Porous film for PCB masks - Homecrafts closing down!

Have you considered or tried drafting film? I've had excellent results using it with technical pens and print shops, then transferring the drawings to dyeline prints. As that process depends on transparency, and drafting film retains a good thick black line, perhaps it will also be good for PCB manufacture?

I enjoyed your account of Mr Peach which was very informative and rather fascinating. I can't say I'd heard of the company in any of its iterations, and am now sorry that I hadn't as it appears a good source is going west. I avoid buying from Amazon because of their corporate practices, so am always glad to find alternatives to their ubiquity. In this case, it looks like I'll have to scour the Homecrafts catalogue before it disappears!
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