Attempt 7: the heat transfer paper arrived and to me it looks just like the backing paper that is left after peeling off self adhesive labels – i.e it is very shiny paper that feels slightly waxy. Naturally it didn’t come with any instructions apart from one line of text that simply said ‘print on shiny side’. Okay, that i can do. This time around I replicated the plaque drawing 10 times so that i had a sheet of spares to play with. Good job i did too…
The laserjet print came out nice so:
Attempt 8 – iron the image onto cold but clean brass for 2 minutes. I then peeled off the paper. To be fair a lot of the toner did transfer to the brass but not consistently across the image.
Attempt 9 – heat up the brass plate with the iron for 5 minutes then iron the paper for 2 minutes… result was better but not *really* good.
Attempt 10 – heat up the brass for 5 minutes then iron the paper under pressure for 5 minutes – significantly better but now there is a sticky residue all over the brass. I have no idea what that is but it feels like glue. From experience i know that white spirit removes glue and a quick wipe easily removed the glue as expected AND unfortunately the toner image which went with it – oh how i laughed.
Attempt 11 – lets try a reduced ironing time, heat up brass for 5m, pressure iron for 2minutes – peel off paper – still the glue like residue covering the entire image. This is frustrating but gut feel says I am close to the answer.
Attempt 12 – search the interweb for some answers / guidance… aha the paper is apparently covered with a water based glue that holds the toner onto the paper. When it is heated the glue releases from the paper (bringing the toner with it) and sticks to the item you want the image on. Eureka – its *supposed* to leave a sticky residue… reading on – the trick is that once the paper is ironed for an appropriate time and considered ready (no clues offered) – you place the brass and adhered paper into hot water, after a couple of minutes the glue dissolves in the water and the paper simply falls off… a result!
Below is my first successful image transfer.
I am getting excited now so next, mask off all the areas I don’t want to be etched. This extends the life of the Ferric solution because it does not need to etch an excessive amount of brass. The back of the plate is also masked off for the same reason.
Place the plate into the pre-heated and agitated ferric solution for 45 minutes. (I captured a short video of the home made tank, heater and bubble agitator as the bubbling sound was pure 1940’s horror film but this blog site does not appear to like video files. The ‘tank’ comes with a lid which i have since discovered has a hole the perfect size for the heater. Perfect. I label all my acid containers so that i can remember what is in them for future use.
After 45 minutes, i took the plate out of the etching tank, washed it in water and then sprayed satin black paint over the image to create the background colour. You can see light reflected in the raised surfaces…
and finally, I lightly burnished (sand) the raised surfaces to reveal the brass highlights.
There are a few speckles where i clearly didn’t clean off the glue residue as well as i might and given the lettering at the bottom of the plaque is only 1mm high and is still clearly legible, i think i have pretty much worked out the process. As a prototype, i am pleased with the result but i want a perfect one for my car so i will make a few more. I will donate the next few ‘prototypes’ to the Artisans who are interested in having them to fit to their cars… perhaps a cottage industry starts here but it is time consuming so not really a money earner.