Laminator Modification Guide – Apache AL13P

Pulsar recommended using this specific laminator when using their products. I just got mine delivered a few hours ago and made the modifications as Pulsar suggested. Pulsar provided pretty good instructions but I thought they could use some pictures so they were fool proof.

Brand new Apache AL13P laminator from Amazon:

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The first step to unboxing:

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Remove the laminator from the foam, rip off the protective plastic. Be sure to remove it all, some got stuck to the side of mine and I had to kinda scrap it off. Flip the laminator over and it should look like this:

 

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Remove the 4 Philips screws from these 4 areas:

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Then you take these 4 screws and tighten them all the way down (turn the screwdriver clockwise). Start with the top left, then the bottom left, then the top right, and finally the bottom right screw. Once they are all tightened, you need to loosen them all 3 full turns (counter-clockwise). Make sure you do that in the same order, top left, bottom left, top right, and finally bottom right.

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Carefully flip the laminator back over (remember you took off the 4 screws that hold the top on):

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Then you need to carefully flip the top off. It won’t come all the way off because of the ribbon cable shown below. It is hot glued on so they know if you’ve tampered with it. Just be careful and this will be our little secret :)

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I flipped my top over and slide it under the laminator a bit so it would stay in place for the next step. At this point you should have something like this:

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Our goal here is to remove this plate from the front of the laminator. Apparently this is some sort of cooling plate and we want this thing to get HOT. The plate with the half circles is the plate we want gone.

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On the inside of the lid you’ll find these 2 tabs that hold that plate on. You’ll want to bend them both straight. I used to pair of needle nose pliers.

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Just to be clear this is the plate that you want off. Notice it is off :P

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Put the top back on, carefully flip the unit over and replace the 4 Philips screws that held on the top. You should look like this again:

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You are done! You now have a laminator that can make the toner transfer method of homemade PCB creation work like magic. My first PCB made using this laminator was a SMT board with extremely small traces. You can see some of those boards as part of my LED Matrix series.

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11 comments on “Laminator Modification Guide – Apache AL13P
  1. Rahul Karnik says:

    Excellent directions. I voided my warranty within minutes of its arrival. Not really. I had the lid propped up nicely tucked under as you mentioned.

    I did goof to begin with, unscrewed 2 of the inner screws on the right, and one came right off. But it was easy enough to put the spring and tab back together again onto the screw once it was all open.

    Your images are wonderful — but I wish they were smaller sizes (download took for ever when I panicked to look at which screws I *should* have removed).

    I suppose, for the sake of clarity of anyone reading this — you remove the outer screws. And perform the tightening and unscrew-3-rotations rigmarole on the inner ones.

    I’m not exactly sure I did that tighten-then-3-anticlockwise precisely. I guess I’ll soon find out!

    • Kit Ryan says:

      My experience is that this is not the full mod needed for really good pcb results. There is a 2nd set of rollers in the Apache which is NOT heated and cools off the boards right after they go through the heated rollers. If you feel the boards, you can tell they’re not getting hot enough. The boards should be hot enough to almost make you want to drop them! Even 15 passes were not enough to make a perfect board, so…..

      My solution was to completely remove the 2nd set of rollers (the unheated ones) by unscrewing their bottom screws all the way until the brackets came off and I could pull out the rollers. To put the boards through, you must run with the cover off (a safety issue, for sure) and re-enter them manually 10X. This gives superb results from end to end of the board.

      Good luck!

  2. mftCreeks says:

    I’ve tried two different laminators, including the Apache AL13P, and have had only negative results. I’ve returned to the iron on method which has worked well for me. My experience with the toner transfer is outlined at http://www.goldseeker.org.

    • Kennedy says:

      I’ve had mixed results with regular photo paper and magazine paper (magazine paper = free retries :D). However, I have had about 95% success rate with the Pulsar Toner Transfer Paper. I can’t recommend this stuff enough. I’ve made a few revs of my brew system’s control boards using this stuff. The traces come out amazing. They also sell a foil that is supposed to seal the toner. It works wonders when it works, but I haven’t figured out what causes it to be a pain yet.

      Try the Pulsar Toner Transfer Paper in your laminator and let me know how it works!

  3. I just unboxed my Apache laminator and followed your excellent directions. Thank you for such a thoughtful post.

  4. Tin Duc Vo says:

    Did anyone elses tabs attached to the inner screws warp a lot? I followed the instructions but that still happened.

    • Kennedy says:

      I haven’t noticed any warping issues. The only thing I’ve noticed about the laminator after my modifications, is that if I let it run for too long it starts to make a high pitch screech. This only happens when I let mine cool since I turn off the heat but the leave the rollers on for quite a while to make sure things cool down evenly and don’t warp. Maybe not cooling that way caused the warping?

  5. Ancel says:

    FYI guys, I am doing a mod to add shutdown protection should the temp control fail and to slow down the PCB pass through by about 5 – 10 times so as to make magazine paper lamination a single pass event. Also I might add an automatic 2 minute cooldown for the rollers upon shutdown as well.

  6. Ancel says:

    The project mod is complete and should go online shortly, here is the brief. t does complete toner transfer in one pass using parchment paper and adds overheat protection and a cool down sequence for the rollers!
    http://www.clubjameco.com/index.php/projects/project_brief/24/21353/laminator_mod-_pcb_toner_transfer_from_parchment

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