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Extremely simple printed circuits Answered

I was thinking of this theoretical circuit making system. I would get some sort of powdered or granular metal (possibly lead) and mix it with small amounts of water. Then I would fill the paste in an ink jet printer. Then I think it's as simple as just printing out the circuit. Maybe you would have to bake the print or maybe put it in a kiln to let the metal melt together.

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Skyfinity
Skyfinity

13 years ago

Wow Eric!...Awesome. That is really amazing. Unfortunatley, i'm not really sure any of us could get our hands on one of those Right now. Don't get me wrong, that's amazing, but Crash's idea is way more affordable and easy than heavy duty device. For Paste, i would use 1. Conductive paint, not sure where to buy but they definatley sell it 2. A strange mixture of Pencil graphite and glue. Graphite is conductive, right? 3.Molten iron, most unlikley of the three.

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pistolpete3521
pistolpete3521

Reply 13 years ago

graphite is a VERY poor conductor

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dsanco
dsanco

Reply 7 years ago

Graphite is used in high performance spark plug cables, about 8 ohms each. Poor perhaps, but plenty conductive.

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Skyfinity
Skyfinity

Reply 13 years ago

Well, yeah, conductive paint or conductive glue is more realistic. Graphite does conduct though, and anyone who doubts should tell it to my friend's sister who thought it would be safe to stick pencils in sockets.

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pistolpete3521
pistolpete3521

Reply 13 years ago

the reason she is alive is because it is a poor conductor, after about 2 - 3 inches all low voltages lose any effectiveness and fail to even complete a circuit. It can even be used as a make-shift dimmer/variable resistor.

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Crash2108
Crash2108

14 years ago

Well, it was inspired by industrial manufacturing, but I was thinking for more of a home/hobbyist use.

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Goodhart
Goodhart

Reply 13 years ago

I just have one problem....getting a fiberglass or glass piece to go down and around the platen :-)

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westfw
westfw

Reply 14 years ago

Perhaps "industrial inkjets are further from consumer inkjets than you think." Even assuming similar technology, industrial manufacturing is full of assumptions that don't apply to you and I. Things like "replace the inkjet heads after each 200 hours of operation, or after the printer has been shut down for more than an hour." (I don't know squat about industrial inkjets; that's just a guess...)

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ewilhelm
ewilhelm

14 years ago

It's interesting that you're thinking about this. I spent about five years working on systems to do just this.

The main material I worked with was nanoparticle colloids of gold and silver. In nanoparticle form (with appropriate capping groups, typically thiols), the metals are soluble in some organic solvents and can be sintered together into conductive lines or thin films at low temperatures (300 C). This isn't quite low enough for paper, but it is low enough for glass and polyimide plastic.

Here's a video of an ink-jet printed rotary actuator printed on polyimide plastic that electrostatically (700 volts) moves a small piece of tissue paper around like a clock. It's 3-phase and utilizes printed insulators at the junctions where the phases cross.



Here's a video of an ink-jet printed heatuator:



I've also attached a paper that describes the whole process in detail.
motors.jpg
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HamO
HamO

Reply 13 years ago

eric, I have a new and increased respect for you and your accomplishments. That article is awesome. Thanks for all you do for us!

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ewilhelm
ewilhelm

Reply 13 years ago

Thanks!

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bowakowa
bowakowa

Reply 13 years ago

Thanks for this.

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Goodhart
Goodhart

13 years ago

They make a "toner" for laser (not ink jet) printers that uses a magnetically charged plastic. It is known in the business as MICR toner, as they use it on checks etc. The would be conductive, but not good enough for a circuit board I am afraid. Just tossing out an idea...

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westfw
westfw

14 years ago

Neat stuff. Where can I get that nanoparticle silver and gold at reasonable prices? (that's supposed to be a joke!) OTOH, I don't think the original poster was talking about especially small scale printing. Direct circuit printing of PCBs with generous hobbyist design rules would be a neat thing... I've been very tempted to explore the limits of, say, graphite or conductive lampblack in elmer's glue. This is conductive when dry. Not VERY conductive, mind you. Nothing like silver, nickel, copper, or other things that show up in what people normally consider to be "conductive inks." I'd probably be looking at tens of ohms per inch or so. Maybe more. But modern low power CMOS logic shouldn't care much for digital; shucks, engineers pay extra for "bus" logic that has extra resistors in the output drivers. I built this circuit once where I left out a wire between an oscillator and an LED driver section; it worked fine if my finger bridged the gap... And it's awfully cheap; less than $10/lb for the carbon, and less than $10/gallon for the glue.

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bigpinecone
bigpinecone

14 years ago

that sounds like a great idea, i would try but i don't have an inkjet that i can do this with

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westfw
westfw

14 years ago

Heh. Inkjet ink is harder than you think. Even with something like pen plotter, where you can handle much more viscous inks, it's pretty hard to do "real" PCB printing with conductive inks. the Conductive inks that DO exist tend to involve expensive metals (silver) and nasty solvents, and you still can't solder to them very well. Still, there are some things made this way; take apart a modern laptop keyboard, and you'll find mylar film printed with conductive traces. You still can't solder to it (which is a big problem in general, but not for the keyboards), but it does seem to work.

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Crash2108
Crash2108

14 years ago

Why does it say I like sock monkeys and S hooks when clearly I don't?