I'm trying to find a cheaper alternative to the Datak stuff ($18 for 4oz!), and I came across this (MG Chemicals 418). I'm wondering if it will work with the pre-sensitized Datak boards I'm using (ex here), or if Datak boards require Datak developer.


2 Answers 2


WHAT!!?? Those prices for NaOH are pure robbery!

Anyway, here's a trick how to compare chemicals: Every manufacturer has to provide material safety datasheet for each potentially dangerous chemical product. You basically go to Google and write product name MSDS and you get the document. It will contain the ingredients for the product. If you had some very basic chemistry training, you should be able to identify what's inside.

So for MG Chemicals 418, we can see in the MSDS that main ingredient is sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and it's 7% to 11% by weight and that the rest is deionized water.

I couldn't dig up the material safety datasheet for that exact developer (but you should be able to request it from manufacturer or distributor), but here's the concentrated version. If you look up ingredients, you'll see that it's "caustic soda" which is one of the names for NaOH.

Based on this, we can see that the active ingredient in both products is the same, so they should basically work the same. Only possible difference could be the concentration, since I couldn't dig up the MSDS for the exact product you've been using.

Also here in Serbia, 1 kg of NaOH costs between $1 and $2 and you can make around 100 l of developer with it, because usual concentration is 10 g of NaOH per liter.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Wow, I didn't think to check the MSDS for the actual content. Great tip. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 17, 2013 at 15:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @sacredfaith Best thing about it is that companies must provide it to you, so they can't actually hide what's inside. They can make it hard to read though. \$\endgroup\$
    – AndrejaKo
    Oct 17, 2013 at 16:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Awesome. I might have to consult my friends Google and Dusty Chemistry Textbook to parse it out. Thanks so much! \$\endgroup\$ Oct 18, 2013 at 14:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ It does not say that the remainder is all DI water- there could be non-hazardous ingredients included that make the product better such as surfactants (wetting agents) or anti-foaming agents. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 20, 2014 at 19:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ A 90:10 solution of distilled water and NaOH ate EVERYTHING off the board in less than a minute including the photo sensitive traces that showed up initially. I'm guessing that ratio might be too strong. \$\endgroup\$
    – ipmcc
    Feb 25 at 16:14

It should, but it's cheap enough that testing it is probably worthwhile. There really isn't a very wide variety of photoetching chemistries in PCB manufacturing, so while the timing might be different, it will probably perform the same function just fine.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think you're right - I'll be purchasing some soon, and let you know how it goes. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 17, 2013 at 15:30

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