Toner transfer to ABS


ABS melts at about 105°C and the toner in your printer melts at a higher temperature, maybe 150-200°C.

So, you shouldn’t be able to make super good looking front panels for your ABS enclosures with toner transfer, right?

But it works!

I decided to give it a try. With special precautions it works like a charm. So what is different compared to a normal toner transfer for making PCBs?

Well, the answer is rather short: do things fast so that the ABS will not melt. It took something like less than 10 seconds of ironing on the paper with the image you see below. The paper appeared to stick very fast to the box, unlike you see when making PCBs. Next, put it in cold water and scrub the extra paper with a sponge.

The result is great, minus the fact that i have used paper from some magazine and some extra text came out and that needed extra scrubbing which removed some of the toner.  The text appears to be very smooth too.  I just can’t wait to make the front panel of my next project with this method.

Check out the images of the process:

P.S. If you didn’t know, toner transfer can be used to make nice drawings on aluminum front panels too. It might work on other metals, but it didn’t try it yet.

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  1. Hi,

    Can I transfer image on ABS with acetone???

    Thanks… :)))

  2. Last Picture ——-> Stoner Transfer !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Hi, so let me get this straight because i am a little slow. Have you transfered the toner on to an ABS substrate or have you actually printed ABS?

    Sorry for the daft question.

  4. 105grdC is the softening temperature for abs, meaning that it is the temperature where the melting is starting.

    “melting” is made in a range, so the melt temperature when you are processing abs is between 220-270grdC

    my comments are that you have to move fast with iron because you can deform the laminating surface, but in the same time, if you acquire for the short time+cooling the temperature closer to 245grdC is the best way to have a very nice finishing

    good luck! 🙂

  5. I am looking to transfer logos, lettering and even small drawings to abs plastic, would this work? Trying to understand – must use laser printer not inkjet, right? could I use iron on transfer paper for fabric with inkjet and get the transfer? If the item has been painted will transfer work? If it has been clear coated do I sand off clear coat or can I transfer on top of it and then clear coat again? Your help would really be appreciated.

  6. Would it help putting the plastic object in the freezer for a few minutes and “pre heating” the paper with toner before “mating” the two?

    • It definitely should help, but because i was able to do it without colling(not that i didn’t think o cooling the box with water) it means it should work without all that trouble.

  7. is the last picture a 420 reference? Looks cool though.

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  9. Think this would work for putting custom labels on cds or dvds burned on a computer?

    • It might work, but i wouldn’t use it because i usually value a lot the data on the disk, so I don’t want to risk.
      It may not damage the disk at the beginning, but it may shorten its life.

  10. Toner does contain abs particles already, one indication is that you can remove it with acetone. On top of that, abs does not melt at 105 deg Celcius. It melts at a range between 220 and 300 deg C. This info comes from my colleague well versed in printing with 3d printers.

  11. Pingback: Tuesday Two-Fer: Battery Cases and ABS Lettering « Black Hat Security

  12. Will this work on glass? I have something I want to try and I think using this method would be best if it sticks to glass.

  13. Taking the laminating pouch idea a step further, has anyone tried to inkjet onto the glue, and then iron that?

  14. some one above has commented on how permanent is this,
    i wonder if anyone has tried using laminating pouches which are essentially heat activated glue on a plastic layer.
    i wonder if after using this method, a single layer of pouch, glue downwards on to the artworked abs,
    ontop of this a cloth, followed by a hot iron?
    this would essentially form a clear plasics coating over the artwork to protect it from abuse.
    i think a little experimentation is needed?

  15. Pingback: Tuesday Two-Fer: Battery Cases and ABS Lettering · Computer Hardware

  16. Stoner transfer, lol.

    How durable is this method?

    • It should have no problem lasting years. Toner is essentially plastic and has a high durability on prints too. Too the looks of it I’d say that it is fused directly to the ABS. I’ve tried scrubbing it off with a sponge and cleaning powder and it proved quite resistant, more resistant than toner is on copper on a PCB.

  17. i think most laser printers should work, even color ones. It’s just like toner transfer to make pcbs.
    Do a google for that and you will find lots of useful info and tutorials.
    The paper and surace should be dry and clean, grease might make toner not stick.
    I think you should be able to use any paper, but i recommend something more glossy. Also, you have to do the ironing quick so that the plastic doesnt melt, or at most melt just a little at the surface.

  18. That looks really good! I’m hoping to do something similar to put drawings on plastic that I can then cut out.

    Can you just use any laser printer and paper, or do you need a specific type? Should the paper and plastic be dry when you start ironing?


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