Integrating electronics into materials such as paper bring up interesting questions about what computing in the future will look like.
This tutorial shows you how to make your own paper with embedded LEDs. It's easy and fun!
• paper to tear up to form substrate
• window screen cut to approximately 4 x 6 inches (or desired size of paper)
• tub to put pulp/water in
• blender to create pulp
• conductive materials to create conductive paths within paper (22 gauge
non-insulated wire, conductive thread: http://www.sparkfun.com/products/8549,
twisted tinfoil, etc [conductive thread works best])
• LEDs: http://www.ledshoppe.com/led5mm.htm
• 3v battery
Step 1: Prepare the Paper
First, tear or cut paper into small (1 inch approximate) squares. Then reduce paper to a pulp. This can be done either by combining with water and then boiling or allowing to sit in water for a few days.
Step 2: Prepare Your LEDs
Next, while your paper is turning to pulp, prepare your LEDs. LEDs are polar, meaning that one side is positive and one side is negative. The longer side is the positive side.
Take your LEDs and curl the ends with small pliers to make hooks. Make sure to keep the positive side slightly longer, so that you will be able to tell which side is positive/negative. Then tie conductive thread onto each side (or wrap wire, aluminum foil, etc.), wrapping it tightly multiple times around the hooks multiple times to ensure a good connection.
Step 3: Make Paper Pulp
Once paper has started to deteriorate, combine with more water, and pulse in a blender until it is a pulp like consistency (like guacamole).
Step 4: Pour the Pulp Into a Tub
Pour the pulp into a 2 – 3 inch deep pan or tub. Combine with more water until it’s the consistency of soup.
Step 5: Dip Your Screen Into the Paper
Dip your screen into the paper pulp mixture.
Step 6: Flip the Screen & Squeeze Out Water
Flip the screen onto a counter (or cookie dough sheet for mobility) paper-side-down.
Pat dry with a towel. Remove as much water as possible.
Step 7: Peel Off Screen
Peel back the screen. (You now have a piece of paper!)
If your paper doesn't seem thick enough, repeat steps 3 - 7 until its the desired thickness (keep in mind you'll be adding another layer after you place the electronics).
Step 8: Lay Out Your Electronics
Lay out your electronics. In the picture to the left I have three LEDs. Make sure the wires of all the positives are together, and the wires of all the negatives are together. Below are two diagrams, one for just one LED, and one for three.
Diagram for one light.
Diagram for 3 lights.
These diagrams are just guides, feel free to rearrange the placements of lights and wires, just be sure all of the positives stay together, and all the negatives stay together, and the positives and negatives are never touching.
Step 9: Add Another Layer of Paper
Dip the screen and lay another layer of paper on top of the electronics. Repeat until the electronics are fully enclosed. Then allow the paper to dry. While still damp, use a knife or other flat object to remove the paper from the counter or cookie sheet. Then continue to dry. You can also use a hair dryer to speed up the process. To make it light up, connect a battery. Do this by touching the positive end of your string to the positive part of the battery and vice versa with the negative side.