Turn Paper Into a Speaker!




About: AgIC is named after Silver Ink Circuit (Ag is the chemical symbol of silver). We develop products to make electric circuits more accessible and catalyze fusion of technology with design and crafts.

Speakers are so common in the world, but do you know that you can make primitive one very easily? Using conductive ink pen, your simple drawing can work as a speaker. Let's see it works!

A coil drawn by a conductive ink works as a speaker, as the video shows. Draw your own speaker and play with it.

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Step 1: Prepare Materials

You will need the following materials to begin with.

Material lists:

  • AgIC Circuit Marker or AgIC Circuit Printer, and special paper (you can find them here)
  • Audio amplifier, such as Lepai LP-2020A
  • 1" diameter neodymium magnet, such as ones from Neodymium Magnets
  • 2 aligator clip cables
  • 1 male-male stereo audio cable (one we use to connect audio device to a car)
  • Optional: stencil to draw circles or rectangles (if you use Circuit Marker)

Step 2: Make a Coil

The point of this step is make a coil on paper using AgIC conductive ink. Follow the instruction below depending on which tool you use:

  • With Circuit Marker: Draw an incomplete circle, leaving some slice, in the center of the paper. We recommend to use a stencil. Do not close the circle - otherwise it shorts out and the coil does not work. Draw two lines from the incomplete parts to the edge of the paper - these will be contacts to the amplifier.
  • With Circuit Printer: Download the attached template and print with your Circuit Printer.

Step 3: Connect Things

Connect all components together:

Your audio player (phone etc...) <-(male-male audio cable)-> amplifier <-(alligator clip cables)-> paper with the coil

You may want to cut one side of alligator clip cables, and peel the cover so that you can insert them to amplifier easily.

Step 4: Hover Coil and Hear the Sound!

Turn on the amplifier, and play a music. Then hover the coil over the magnet. You should hear the sound when the circle goes on top of the magnet! Move the coil and listen how sound changes.

If you do not hear the sound, increase the volume of the amplifier. Also make sure the alligator clips do not scratch out the silver drawing.

Step 5: Try More Shapes!

From our research, the coil can be any incomplete circular shape, such as circle, rectangle, or star. See some examples in photo from an event at the Tech Museum of Innovation - it is surprising (even for us) that all worked well. There are good Instructables for your references and inspirations (explorations and amazing works). Let's try with your own shapes and listen how it works!

Step 6: Why It Sounds?

As you may have heard in science class, sounds can be made from vibrations of materials (which vibrates the air). A very simple speaker can be made of a magnet and a coil where audio signal flows as electrical current. The current generate magnetic force and react -pull and repel- with the magnet, which causes vibration of the coil. In this project, you will draw/print a coil with AgIC's conductive ink.

There are more information on web, such as one by Physics.org.

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    11 Discussions


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for your comment, too! We were also surprised this idea makes many exploration :)


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I received my paper speaker kit and I'm having some trouble. My paper speakers keep burning out on me. Is there something I can do to make them better, or something I might be doing wrong that I can fix? Thank you.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Hello Spencer, thank you for trying out the kit! I recommend to turn down the amplifier. A speaker may burn out when you put max volume from the amplifier. Also, if you use photo paper other than our special circuit paper, the trace burn out more easily. Please check there points and feel free to ask further questions. Photos may help us understand the problem.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    The special paper is a kind of glossy photo paper (with resin coating), but is specially tuned for the conductive ink. We recommend to use this paper for making speakers due to high current. Glossy photo paper in the market, such as one from EPSON, does not work for speaker, while it works fine for make a simple circuits (e.g. to play with LEDs).


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    On your website it says this:
    "AgIC Special Paper can be used to print and draw electric circuits with AgIC Circuit Printer and Circuit Marker. Check AgIC Circuit Printer Cartridges to see the way to set up a circuit printer. On this paper, the conductive ink drys and becomes conductive immediately. You can make prototypes of circuit boards and art works with circuits quickly."
    Be consistent when describing your product


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for your interest! Please feel free to post questions and share how it goes. We look forward to seeing what patterns you make.