This Instructable is all about the amazing technology of paper electronics and conductive materials. Instead of using stubborn wires and your rusty soldering skills to painstakingly connect components, why not use paint and glue? This tutorial will share various recipes to create your very own conductive paint, tape, glue, and ink. Using a maximum of 3 easy to find ingredients, these simple materials are easy to make. All of the conductive materials explained in this Instructable are based around the conductive paint (step 1). Using increments of different chemicals, the consistency of the paint can be changed from thick to thin (glue to ink). At the end of the Instructable a simple project will be shown using conductive materials (step 5). There is also a step that is dedicated interfacing conductive materials with kits and teaching classes and workshops.
Even though commercially available conductive materials work great, they are a wee pricey and often need to be ordered online. Another disadvantage of commercial products is that they are usually only available in conductive paint form.
To start off, I would like to share some of the science behind the main ingredient used in the conductive materials; graphite. Graphite is a mineral and a form of pure carbon. Graphite is very conductive and is sometimes used in arc-lamp electrodes. Because of its conductivity, graphite is the primary candidate for making conductive materials. Its other bonuses include being easy to obtain, mixing well with paint, and coming in a very fine powdered form.
Here are the supplies needed to make the conductive materials in this Instructable:
- powdered graphite lubricant- from from Ace Hardware or other hardware store
- black poster paint- from local craft store or from Amazon
- paint thinner- from local hardware store or from Amazon
- popsicle/mixing sticks- from local craft store or Walmart
- mixing cups- I used styrofoam cups from grocery store
- measuring spoon- baking spoons will work
To complete the ink and stamping steps and the project, you will need these additional supplies:
- light emitting diode (led) available at local Radioshack
- 3-volt coin cell battery- available at grocery store
- sponge- some type of sponge, I got mine out of an old printer ink cartridge
- airtight vial- any type of airtight container will work
- airtight plastic container- possibly tupperware or old food container
Now that the materials have been gathered, it is time to begin making conductive materials!
Warnings: Some of the projects and instructions in this Instructable use paint thinner. This chemical produces nasty fumes that probably aren't very healthy for you. Perform all projects using paint thinner in a well-ventilated room. I am not responsible for any accidents that may occur while using this Instructable.
This Instructable is submitted for Powell Cubs for the Instructables Sponsorship Program.