"Print" vs "Plot to PDF"


I’ve been happily using KiCad for a long time. Since I use toner transfer method for making PCBs at home, it was a breeze to hit “print” in pcbnew and get a high-quality result.

Lately I’m using bleeding-edge KiCad (built from the very latest source available at Launchpad) and the “Print” output is horrible. I can reliably manufacture 10-mil trace/space, but printing 10-mil trace/space now gives overlapping/merged traces, pads with drill hits that are misaligned, not to mention text output (if I include a silkscreen layer, or the page frame) looks just awful.

By comparison, if I use the “Plot” function and plot to PDF, I can then print that PDF and it’s pristine.

I’m on the development mailing list, but before I bother them with this, I thought I’d pose the question here in case anyone else has some insight.


I have always used “Plot” to put toner onto paper because “Print” to pdf puts the image into a frame,
but “Plot” prints only the image with no frame. I don’t need a frame for making a toner image for toner-

However, “Plot” makes a pdf file for each layer selected in its dialog box, one file per layer.

I only use the latest stable kicad version, Version: 5.0.1+dfsg1-2~bpo9+1, release build.


Print has always “simplified” output and was never suitable for etching, at least since 4.0.0 days


Print is however the only tool that can scale differntly in x and y direction which is kind of necessary for home made board manufacturing (at least if you want your board to be produced as close as possible to what you see in kicad. Most printers don’t really print 1:1 so you will need to tune in your process quite a bit.)
But for that to work well one really can not go via pdf or some other format but would really need to directly print from kicad.