Make your own conductive fabrics, thread, glue, and tape, and use them to make potentiometers, resistors, switches, LED displays and circuits.

Using conductive glue and conductive thread you can make LED displays and circuits on any flexible fabric. They can be made flexible enough to roll up (see pic2). using the techniques presented here, you can replace solder in many instances and create circuits on almost any hard or flexible surface.

This instructable is the result of some of my experiments with making conductive materials and components. While some of the techniques shown in the following steps were not used in this particular project, they may be something you will find useful for future projects that involve conductive materials.

This instructable will show you how to:

1. Make several kinds of conductive glue, paint and ink.

2. Connect LED displays and micro controllers on fabric using conductive glue and conductive thread.

3. Make magnetic glue, a flexible potentiometer, and a magnetic plug and socket

4. Make your own conductive thread and where to find conductive thread at Wal-Mart.

5. Make conductive fabric, conductive foam, and foam switches, membrane switches and pressure sensors.

6. Make a conductive glue that will glue battery packs and eliminate the battery holder.

7. Program the 18x Picaxe micro controller to display words and numbers.

Step 1: Make Conductive Glue, Conductive Paint, and Conductive Ink

To make your own conductive glue, you will be taking an insulator (Liquid Tape rubber or DAP Contact Cement) and turning it into an electrical conductor. This is done by the addition of carbon graphite powder which is a conductor. As the binder (LT or DAP) sets up, the carbon crystal flakes stack on each other and intertwine to make the glue conductive. The result is a flexible conductive glue that will stick well to most things.

The glass circuit doodle in pic3 below, is used to illustrate some of the ways the different glues can be used. Click on the comment squares for details.

Since my first instructable on how to make conductive glue: https://www.instructables.com/id/EYA7OBKF3JESXBI/ I have been experimenting with various conductive materials. In the process, I have come up with a few new mixes using other binders that have somewhat different characteristics than the original conductive rubber glue.


Performix (tm) liquid tape, black-Available at Wal-Mart or http://www.thetapeworks.com/liquid-tape.htm

DAP "The Original" Contact Cement- available at Wal-Mart or most hardware stores.

Carbon Graphite, fine powder- Available in larger quantities at http://www.elementalscientific.net/
Available in smaller quantities at your local hardware store. It's called lubricating graphite and comes in small tubes or bottles. The brand I used is called AGS Extra Fine Graphite, but no doubt there are other brands that will also work.

Conductive thread-Available in small spools at http://members.shaw.ca/ubik/thread/order.html
or at:

Clear contact cement such as Welder Contact Adhesive or Goop- available at Wal-Mart and hardware stores

Tuloul solvent- available at hardware stores

WARNING- All of these mixes involve strong solvents that evaporate into the air quickly. Do this only in a VERY WELL VENTILATED room. The fumes can be harmful. Better yet, do it outside.

All of the mixes below are best mixed in small quantities and used immediately. I have tried storing them in airtight containers but all of them seem to harden up after just a few days. Mix them in a stainless steel or glass container. You can mix them in plastic cups, but you will have to do it fast as most of them will dissolve many plastics.

Glue mix #1 Conductive Glue Using Liquid Tape (LT)
This is the original formula that uses a mix of Liquid Tape and Graphite powder. It results in a flexible conductive rubber that actually shrinks as the solvents evaporate, thus tightening it around whatever it coats. It has the lowest resistance of any of the unfibered mixes (32 ohms per inch). For details on how I measured the resistance see the original instructable (link) on this glue. I find it best for gluing wire to wire, or wire to conductive thread or conductive fabric. It can also be used to make conductive foam (see step 4).

Mix the glue 1-1/2 Graphite to 1 Liquid Tape by volume. Mix it fast in small quantities and use it fast as it tends to evaporate and skin up rather quickly.
I usually use 1/4 teaspoon as my unit of volume.

Mix #2 Conductive Paint Using Liquid Tape
This is the same mix as above with the addition of extra solvent to make it the consistancy of thick paint. Because it is a thinner mix, it has a higher resistance (60 ohms per inch) than the conductive glue. It is useful for making conductive thread and conductive fabric (see step 6). It also sticks better to glass than the thicker glue above.

Mix the paint 1-1/2 Graphite to 1 Liquid Tape to 1 Tuloul by volume.

Mix #3 Conductive Ink Using Liquid Tape
I mainly use this ink for touch up if the glue lines get too sloppy or to re-coat close together joints. Because it is so thinned out, it can have a rather high resistance in the hundreds of ohms per inch. It can also be used to create thin film high value resistors and It may be useful for high voltage applications.

Mix the ink 1-1/2 Graphite to 1 Liquid Tape to 3 Tuloul by volume.

Mix #4 Conductive Glue Using Dap Contact Cement
It turns out that most contact cements will become conductive if you add graphite. Even Elmers rubber cement has very low resistance when mixed with graphite. It is however, a raw latex rubber and I do not trust its longevity as raw rubber tends to deteriorate with time.

The DAP Contact Cement is a more industrial strength rubber and it had the lowest resistance of any of the heavy duty contact cements that I tested. While Its resistance is higher (62 ohms per inch) than the Liquid Tape glue. Its biggest advantage is that it does not shrink as much as the LT glue. It is also much more flexible than anything else I tried. This makes it ideal for coating the surface of fabrics without making them curl, to create conductive fabrics, potentiometers, resistors, switches and sockets.

Mix the DAP Contact Cement glue 1-1/2 Graphite to 1 Dap.

Mix #5 Translucent Conductive Glue.
See pic 3B. While I have so far been unable to come up with a clear conductive glue, this is as close as I have gotten. In all of the glues I have been making, I have resisted adding metal powders, or graphite fibers to increase the conductivity, as this makes the glue much more brittle or stiffer. I am trying to keep all the glues flexible as this makes for more interesting possibilities in what can be made conductive. So instead of stiff fibers such as graphite fibers or metal wire, I added flexible conductive thread. And yes, I know, you could just run the thread and skip the glue, but this has interesting artistic possiblilites.

The translucent glue is simply conductive thread that has been unraveled and chopped up into 1/4 inch long pieces. It is then mixed with a clear contact cement such as Welders or Goop. With Welders Contact Cement, I obtained a conductivity as low as 12 ohms per inch.

Mix the translucent glue 1/4 teaspoon clear contact cement with 6 to 12 inches of unraveled and chopped up conductive thread.

Mix #7 Resistor Glue
Mix the resistor glue 1/2 Graphite to 1 Dap contact cement by volume
Less than 1/2 units of graphite can result in a very high resistance or even an insulator.

<p>The idea for a clear conductive glue was super helpful for my project. Thanks!</p>
<p>DUDE! You just saved me $175... An hour ago, I thought I was going to have to buy a new dishwasher or spend the $$ on a replacement input panel. The electronic ribbon that connects the push button controls to the motherboard was corroded in several places. Fond this article, scrounged around to find contact cement and lubricating graphite in the shop, and 30 minutes later the dishwasher is running like new. FWIW: I scraped of the plastic and corrosion until I had good conductor exposed (its super thin, so I think I scraped away some good stuff too), laid down the wire glue mixture with a tooth pick. A few of them merged together while I was applying, but they were easy to separate using a new toothpick after the glue had set up about half way. Anyway, thanks for writing this up and sharing. Saved a long evening of manual dish-washing (the horror...). </p>
<p>Is how safe is it to make and use? Would it be suitable for this project? http://www.popsci.com/article/diy/light-your-love-life-diy-electric-valentine</p>
is the glue and paint water resistant
Yes it is. <br> <br>In a fairly thick coating, it should be fairly waterproof.
The old version of this site was better. Flipping through pages is so annoying now. <br> <br>Worst layout ever.
For those trying to fix PC boards, go with Circuit Writer -- a pen-shaped dispenser with a silver-bearing glue and a push-and-squeeze-to-dispense tip. Usually available at Radio Shack or Mouser.com (under $20). Once opened, it remains usable for over a year. <strong>Not intended to be flexible.</strong> For very thin traces, I lay strips of scotch tape on either side of the intended conductor then remove them when dry. I've also used it to adhere Surface Mount Devices directly to the pins on a DIP IC, and &quot;draw&quot; voltage and ground bus traces on the body of the IC. Tiny pieces of Kynar wire (40 gauge, easy to strip with Kynar tool, both available at Radio Shack) make good hookup wire for SMD projects.<br> <br> <strong>Terrific instructable. Gave me just what I was looking for.</strong>
Will glue #4 stick to automotive glass? I have a rear defrost that had a contact pulled off the glass. Hoping to use this to re-attach.
This conductive glue only works well with low currents. <br> <br>While it may stick to the glass OK, I doubt that it would be able to handle the high current of a defroster. <br> <br>You could try conductive epoxy that is silver filled. It has a very low resistance.
Have you experimented with using an epoxy glue for added strength?
Can the be used as the tip of a capacitance stylus?<br><br>What other solvents work? Toloul/toluene is not availible to me.
great idea &amp; tutorial - wonder if i can ...<br>- use e.g. Mix #1, 2 or 4 to fix components on breadboards (probably even replace soldering)<br>- replace the cement or liquid tape with Acrylic binders/Polymer resin emulsions such as those used by painters to create their colours - since these are very stable materials
hi..cool idea..neway, whats the conductive mix made from? and what type of glue did u use?<br><br>thanks
I ask because that question is clearly answered, and on THIS page lol.
Did you read the entire article? :P
this is a I-sobot robot tunnig right?<br>is it in instructable?
Just came across this, LOVE IT. And the earlier one too. great stuff.
very nice and informative. But, tell me, what can be used instead of liquid tape?
Haha. The first picture looks like a robot newspaper!
Ah, Mikey, Mikey--the answer to my online wishes. I replaced two chips in a word processor and the work was successful but I did some damage to a flexible printed circuit. A word processor which works "great" but no space bar action is sub-par I think. A circuitwriter would be $30 and not available at all locally. Besides, the printed circuit includes black resistive lands (for some reason) and so to make a long story short your technology fits the bill. Not only that, but after reading about the liquid tape experiment, I found I could not obtain that locally, but then discovered the later essays. I had graphite and I had the Dap. So I am in business! So far I have been experimenting with acrap print circuit. I found that a looser more flowing mix is not good enough. It must be thicker than what one would desire for ease od application. Unless, the looser batch will improve with age? It is still quite pliable. But the stiffer mix makes a strong enough joint even if it is not smooth. I have not yet attempted a final repair. I will have to approimate the original resistances--even though I don't know why any resistance should be introduced to begin with. But I think I stand a chance. And the investment so far stands at $2.46 for extra graphite just so I have plenty. I cannot praise you ingenuity enough and I think your freedom from inhibiting structures bodes well for your creativity.
When you say &quot;word processor&quot; do you mean something like an alphasmart?
he is talking about a very type old computer (I think) a computer made only for word processing. Look up Wang Laboratories, they were based in Massachusetts (My hood!) and their computers could only word process. Their HQ building was in the shape of a W :3
Or keyboard?
or typewriter? or teletype + modem? or replace modem with Altair? also, alphasmarts are awesome. but my netbook is actually the same price as one, and I'm typing this comment on it.
$2? :D
Yup, two AS3K's for 2$ each at a garage sale. Love the things because I can send the stuff i type on there to my Palm m515. Only thing I hate is the keyboard...
this is fking amazing!!!!
Will the conductive glue cause scratches in plastics or glass with prolonged contact? Or is the carbon graphite powder fine enough to protect against unwanted wear?
<style type="text/css"><![CDATA[p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0.0in; font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: Times New Roman; } div.Section1 { page: Section1; } ]]></style><span style="font-size: 12.0pt;font-family: Times New Roman;">We still awaits your reply.</span> <style type="text/css"><![CDATA[p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0.0in; font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: Times New Roman; } div.Section1 { page: Section1; } ]]></style> <p class="MsoNormal">Do your paint stripper would also strips the silver ink which we do use before electrofoaming.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">please revert asap.</p>
<style type="text/css"><![CDATA[p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0.0in; font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: Times New Roman; } div.Section1 { page: Section1; } ]]></style> <style type="text/css"><![CDATA[p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0.0in; font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: Times New Roman; } div.Section1 { page: Section1; } ]]></style><span style="font-size: 12.0pt;font-family: Times New Roman;">one querry that makes us able </span><span style="font-size: 12.0pt;font-family: Times New Roman;">Do your paint stripper would also strips the silver ink which we do use before electrofoaming</span>
What silver ink? Also, what is electrofoaming?&nbsp;
I'd like to lay down conductive strips on a door, but the lengths are long, and the glue alone would create too much resistance. If I used the conductive glue to attach conductive thread to the door, would that effectively reduce the resistance over a longer distance (say a few feet) to the resistance of the thread?
Great instructable! I'm curious as to how much heat this could produce and how quickly. I'd like to use this on a fabric which I want heated to approx 30 degrees but it needs to heat up and cool down to ambient temperature pretty quickly, in a matter of a seconds. Does this sound achievable using typical batteries considering the modest temperature requirement? I'm willing to experiment but would really appreciate a professional opinion on the matter.
where you get the robot?
The conductive ink/paint/glue used powdered graphite. I want to know if you could use powdered copper?
im gonna use this technique to turn my winter gloves into tazers:)
Your instructable helped me convert my nice dance pads for my (now deceased) PS2 to work on my Xbox 360. My kids are so happy! My kids are DDR fanatics. I bought them nice dance pads for the PS2 a long time ago. After the PS2 died, I got the game with pad for the 360. The kids hate the pad that comes with the game. But no one seems to make the nicer pads for the 360. So I decided to open up the pads to see what I can learn. The two are basically the same design, even the traces line up. But I had no idea how to attach the plastic sensor to the circuit board. A google search for conductive adhesive led me here. I'm so glad it worked. I still have to convert the other dance pad. I will try to make an instructable for that and link to this article.
Wow ;<br/>What in informative Instructable!<br/>I actually signed up JUST to be able to post on this and rate it!<br/><br/>I was once planning on making my wife a <strong>&#8220;Taser&#8221; glove</strong> as a fun(cool) project so that she could use for self deffence or what not outside (gets pretty cold here) without needing to rush to her purse or anything.<br/><br/><strong>My original idea</strong> was to pour an attractive latex addition to an inexpensive glove I purchased some while earlier (they were called &#8220;jogging&#8221; gloves). And to try burying wires from the battery and high-voltage in the design (She has to be able to wear it outside remember?).<br/>Well it doesn&#8217;t take much to figure out that wires do not exactly stretch like a glove would! I was just too caught up with the &#8220;cool looking gadget&#8221; idea to correctly analyse correct functionality even though I was so busy evaluating of her ergonomics, cushion pads, her hand mould and etc...<br/><br/><strong>As an alternative</strong>; I was thinking of how we used to copper plate polyester statues we made in the academy and then chemically treated them to look like Bronze. I was thinking if there would be a way to do the same since to be able to electroplate it we used to paint it with a strong mix of (in that project) coppered paint, making it conductive.<br/>Why couldn&#8217;t I paint an insulated glove (Was NOT a good idea with such a high voltage)?<br/><br/>To no success I retreated to the <em>original idea</em> of giving wires a certain distance for motion and to put it all &#8216;under&#8217; the glove.<br/>Where safety was a concern though that maybe a rubber glove underneath would be a good idea and etc...<br/><br/>As you may guess:<br/>The project has been on hold for some time, due to impracticalness at the period of &quot;just begining&quot;.<br/><br/>Now that I read your instructable;<br/>I am full with many new ideas! If nothing; a few of my other glove projects had involved a glove that you would not need to take off in cold weathers to be able to use your touch-pad (there are two that I use often, a very thick one that is also battery operated for really cold weathers, and another that is more what a liner with conductive thread patches.<br/><br/>For all honesty; after my failure and no demand for such a &#8220;weapon/toy&#8221;; I didn&#8217;t experiment with other metals or binders&#8230; (Also due to lack of time and too many other projects to attend to)<br/><br/>Would you recommend the conductive glue or paint you have experimented with for such voltages ranging from 400 volts on (depending on the feed it gets up to a nasty 1100 even. It is something almost all of us must have done at some time with an old flash... nothing too new there)<br/><br/>I will try to experiment with your combinations first chance I get though.<br/><br/>THANK you for the inspiration!<br/><br/>Black<br/>
Thanks for your instructable mikey77! <br/><br/>As a sidenote:<br/>If any of you have trouble finding &quot;Tuloul solvent&quot;, I believe it's a typo. I think it's Tuluol solvent, or more commonly known as Toluene. Here's a wikipedia page:<br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toluene">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toluene</a><br/>
i'd love to get this conductive glue working. got the DAP contact cement & the graphite.. made a thick pulpy mess that conducts nada... i tried several different mixtures from goopy to liquid. also, i am trying to make switches conducting 5v. what am i doing wrong?
As I have said in the comments below, the purer the graphite the better the conductivity. Lubricating graphites may have additives that will increase the resistance. The only accurate way to measure the resistance of conductive glues is to embed good conductors in the mix. Measuring the surface of the conductive glue will not give you accurate results. I hope this helps.
Could you lay a line of Conductive Glue from wrist to fingertip to wrist, stick an LED on your fingertip, connect the glue to battery terminals, and have it work?
Yes, but as I have mentioned in the comments below, this conductive glue contains POISONOUS solvents which would be absorbed by the skin and enter the bloodstream. Not a good idea. A better idea would be to use conductive thread or conductive fabric and a non-toxic glue such as spirit gum (used to glue on latex molds for makeup) to run the thread or fabric to LEDs that were pre-glued to the conductive thread or fabric with conductive glue and dried..
W O W... thats all i can say, this is absolutely amazing!!!!1!!1!
Is there a more cost-effective method of conductive paint? Or maybe copper foil is more my deal for reducing interference. . .
hello folks!! does anyone know if there is any p-type conductive glue that can be used in polymer led...
This is awesome stuff, all dozen-odd versions! I especially LOVE the tiny nano-sumo robot. Do you have any instructions or anything on how I might begin to make one?
I am working on an instructible that will detail how it was made. I will post the link here after it is published.
Awesome. I can't wait to see it!

About This Instructable




Bio: I believe that the purpose of life is to learn how to do our best and not give in to the weaker way.
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