Step 6: Make Conductive Fabric, Conductive Thread, and Conductive Tape

Make Conductive Fabric
You can make various fabrics conductive by coating them with the spatula method. Simply take conductive glue mix #4 and spread it thin and even on the surface using a plastic credit card or metal spatula (pic 17). Pic 18 shows the resulting coated fabric that can then be cut to size. For minimum resistance it usually takes a second coat after the first has dried. The resistance is usually around 300 to 1,000 ohms per inch. This is too high for most low power transmission, but can be useful for sending signals across flexible joints or for making switches and sensors. It may also have high voltage possibilities. I have not had time to try it, but it may be possible to plate this kind of conductive fabric with copper or nickel and decrease the resistance dramatically. Pic 16 shows the flexibility of the resulting conductive fabric.

Make an Almost Transparent Conductive Fabric
I have successfully coated nylon, cotton jean material, neoprene and polyester. Using the method above, you can even coat nylon or polyester netting fabric which results in an almost transparent fabric. See pic14. Pic 15 shows the 20 squares per inch fabric under a 50x magnification. You can see that the resulting conductive coating is quite thin.

If you are interested in buying metal plated conductive fabrics that are somewhat expensive but have very low conductivity, (.1 ohm to 5 ohms per inch) you should check out: http://www.lessemf.com They have a great selection of conductive fabrics.

Make Conductive Thread
By running thread through glue mix #1 or #4 and holding it down in the mix with a notched Popsicle stick, you can make most threads conductive. See pic 19. To make sure they dry straight, you should hang them with one end weighted until they are dry. I have successfully coated nylon fishing line, cotton thread, Dacron thread, and cotton yarn. Generally, the larger the diameter of the thread, the less the final resistance. With two coats, the resistance is around 700 ohms to 2k ohms per inch.

With this kind of resistance, this do it yourself conductive thread is not going to replace the commercial conductive thread, the best of which has a resistance of around 2 ohms per inch and is more flexible and easier to sew. It is however, useful for transferring signals and creating thin low power resistors. It may also be useful for some high voltage applications. It might be possible to plate this kind of conductive thread with copper or nickel and significantly decrease the resistance.

Conductive Thread at Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart sells a thread in their fabric department that is conductive. It is called: Coates Metallic Decorative Thread. It comes in a silver or gold color but I have had the best luck with the silver thread. It is unfortunately coated with a very thin clear polymer that insulates the spiral wound thin metal inside and probably keeps it from oxidizing. This prevents you from simply hooking up a test meter to measure resistance.

I have tried scraping the surface and I have tried various solvents to try and melt off the coating without much success. You can, however, use conductive glue mix #1 to glue wires or regular conductive thread to the ends of a length of the Coats thread. The glue joints will add resistance, but they make this very thin thread (it is thinner than the commercial conductive thread) usable for conducting signals. Since they are insulated with a plastic coating they can be bundled together without shorting and run like wires. The resistance varies depending on the quality of the glue joint, but it usually results in a resistance of about 80 to 200 ohms per inch for a one foot length of thread.

Make Conductive Duct Tape
You can make the back of most tapes, including duct tape, conductive by coating one or two coats of mix #4 on the back side of the tape. If you want to use the tape for electromagnetic shielding, you can also coat the adhesive side with mix #4 and then wrap the tape around whatever it is shielding before the glue dries. A bit messy, but it works. For duct tape, the resistance is about 200 to 300 ohms per linear inch.

Make Conductive Aluminum Tape
You can make a more conductive tape using regular aluminum foil (see pic 20). For instance, if you want to transmit low power DC across a wall, you can cut the foil about 1/2" wide and glue it flat with Dap contact cement or Goop. Where you need to glue two strips together for longer runs or to turn corners, you can use conductive glue mix #1. While 1/2" wide aluminum foil has a resistance of about .1 ohms per foot, glued splices 1" long and 1/2" wide tend to have a resistance of 3-4 ohms. You can then use the same mix to glue on LEDs or other components to the foil. If you paint over with a good latex paint, you can make most of the circuit almost invisible.

Another way that works well and is less messy, is to coat the duct tape or aluminum foil with conductive glue #4 and wait until it is fairly dry but still sticky and then press it onto a surface. If you put on the right thickness of glue this can eliminate the ooze out and it will work similar to regular tape.

<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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