Using commercial standard paper as a substrate has a significant cost reduction implication over other more expensive substrate materials by approximately a factor of 100 (Shenton et al 2015 EMRS Spring Meeting; Zheng et al 2013 Nat. Sci. Rep. 3 1786). Discussed here is a novel process which allows photolithography and etching of simple metal films deposited on paper substrates, but requires no additional facilities to achieve it. This allows a significant reduction in feature size down to the micron scale over devices made using more conventional printing solutions which are of the order of tens of microns. The technique has great potential for making cheap disposable devices with additional functionality, which could include flexibility and foldability, simple disposability, porosity and low weight requirements. The potential for commercial applications and scale up is also discussed.