Etching printed text on to copper or brass

by Debbie

I want to use print that is white text on black fill done on a laser printer. Do you know what kind of paper I should print the text on? I've read that the text should be printed on glossy photo paper. Do you have a recommendation on the paper?

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Stacy's Answer:

Hi Debbie!

Glad to have you on the newsletter list!

As to the etching...just about anything that can be copied from your computer can be transferred onto transfer paper for etching. The style of etching you're wanting to do sounds like intaglio etching - where the entire surface is covered with resist like your black ink and the design lines are left unprotected or scratched away and eaten away by the etching process, as opposed to relief etching - where the resist is applied along the design lines and these lines remain raised after etching.

There are different toner-transfer products available on the market today that use a laser printer to transfer your design to the paper. A household iron is used to transfer or adhere the paper/design to the metal and the glue of the transfer paper acts as a resist to the mordant/acid. I have never tried this method of applying a resist to copper. Most of the patterns I etch are drawn on by hand using a Sharpie marker as the resist or stamped on using the red Staz-on ink as resist.

I don't have a laser printer and I've heard that ink jet printers don't have the hot ink application of the lasers for getting a good pattern transfer when using the transfer paper method. I believe that you can go to a local office supply or printing service company to have the transfers done for you on a laser printer. Office supply companies sell the blue transfer paper as well.

Comments for Etching printed text on to copper or brass

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Aug 09, 2010
etching paper
by: Paulette

I think what you are talking about is transferring the design from the paper to the metal...PNP blue is the paper I use. It is what is used to etch the computer boards. You can search on line to find it. You must use a laser printer to print the design (yes, it is the heat transer that does it) then iron that design onto the metal (don't move the iron around...just press). When I use PNP I print as many 1" or less (you can do any size)that will fit the page. Just cut the one you will use outout and save the rest for later. It is easier to print a whole sheet at a time rather than trying to get the thing to print exactly where you want a design after you have already cut the paper.

Aug 09, 2010
by: Paulette

Forgot to add, if you are doing test, don't forget to reverse it!

Aug 09, 2010
Etching printed text on to copper
by: Debbie


Thank you for the information on the blue paper. I tried glossy photo paper and it transferred the text okay, but could have been better. I didn't etch the piece because of that. I'll look into getting the paper you suggested.

Jun 10, 2015
by: Anonymous

Can you use photo paper to etch on copper. I went to Target to buy the PNP, I could not find it so I asked the rep and they didn't know what I was talking about.

Jun 29, 2015
PNP Paper
by: Stacy

PNP paper - Press and Peel Transfer Paper - is available at some Kinko's, Staples, Office Depot, etc. and of course Amazon dot com. While you can transfer a design using any printer to photo paper, you can't then transfer that to the metal and have it act as a resist.

The sticky PNP paper acts as a resist for the mordant when etching. You must have a laser printer to transfer your design to the PNP paper and then heat such as an iron to transfer that design onto your metal. When you carefully peel back the paper backing, your design portion sticks to the metal. This becomes the resist (area not etched) in the acid/mordant.

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