Maker Vítor Barbosa has converted a Lexmark E460 laser printer into a device capable of printing directly to printed circuit board (PCB) substrate — offering high-resolution, high-quality PCB production at home.
"Well, PCBs are dirt-cheap nowadays and arrive fast, right? Actually that's not the whole story here in Brazil, where I live," Barbosa explains. "Truth is boards for hobbyists here are still expensive or they will take a long time to be made. Most local PCB services take a week to make your board + shipping time (4 days). The cheaper ones start at $50 BRL for 3-5 boards, 2 layers max, but quality is great to be fair."
"For comparison, the used Lexmark E460DN for this project was about $350 BRL. The goal of this project is to provide a decent way for quick PCB prototyping in regions where commercial solutions aren't quite there yet. Every hobbyist should be able to roll out his or her own design quickly!"
Barbosa's conversion of the Lexmark E460 to print designs directly onto a blank PCB builds on an original Instructable for the earlier Lexmark E260 first published five years ago - which, in turn, inspired the Haxmark project for the E360D before finally receiving an update for the newer E460 range from Barbosa.
The process, however, does require considerable modification to the printer: The fuser needs to be removed, the paper platform cut and the rollers replaced, and a carrier for the PCB fabricated. The electronics need to be modified so the internal sensors don't throw a fit, but eventually the printer is ready for service — and with considerably improved resolution over the typical home-printing method of printing onto paper first then transferring it to the PCB with a hot iron.
The full project details are available on Barbosa's page.