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Building Circuit Boards With an Inkjet Printer
11/7/2013

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An Arduino circuit pattern printed on transparent PET film.
An Arduino circuit pattern printed on transparent PET film.

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tekochip
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Flex Circuits
tekochip   11/7/2013 8:27:10 AM
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This would be a great way to make your own flex circuits  Although I like the idea of being able to print a circuit board on a printer, I think the assembly for this process may be a bit difficult.
 
For quick boards at home I tried a few of the hobby processes, including one where you would iron your artwork onto the board.  Really the best process is still a photo process using pre-sensitized boards.  All you have to do is print your artwork on a transparency sheet, expose the board with an ordinary fluorescent lamp for about 10 minutes, develop the board and then etch it.  In an hour you can yield a single-sided, 10mil trace and space board that you can drill, solder and cut to whatever shape you need.  You can make double-sided boards, but that's not as easy as you would hope.  It's best to stick to single-sided boards with surface mount components so you don't need to drill.


Rob Spiegel
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Do they still make inkjet printers?
Rob Spiegel   11/7/2013 8:50:27 AM
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This is quite a surprise, Cabe. Great story. I didn't even know they still made inkjet printers.

TJ McDermott
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Transferring it to fabric
TJ McDermott   11/7/2013 10:46:30 AM
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If this technology were used to print (or transfer) onto fabric, one could create some interesting (if temporary) garments.  Logic on a tee-shirt!

Elizabeth M
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Re: Do they still make inkjet printers?
Elizabeth M   11/7/2013 11:15:25 AM
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Ha! I'm with you on that, Rob. I have forgotten all about the inkjet printers and to be able to repurpose them in this way is really interesting. I would expect this would be more of a 3D printing type thing, so it's an interesting twist. Good story, Cabe.

Ann R. Thryft
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New type of printed circuits
Ann R. Thryft   11/7/2013 1:04:15 PM
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Printing circuits on paper instead of plastic or other substrates? Awesome! Thanks for the report, Cabe.



Charles Murray
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Re: New type of printed circuits
Charles Murray   11/7/2013 9:17:45 PM
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Nice story, Cabe. I recall a technology -- I think it was from Motorola -- called BiStatix. It involved printed circuits for RFID applications. Seems to me they also used a conductive ink. I don't know what happened to that technology.

BrainiacV
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Printing
BrainiacV   11/8/2013 10:28:47 AM
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I sent this story to a friend of mine who had gotten excited one day when I was demonstrating a film you applied to laserjet printed paper and then ran through the printer again to fuse the film to the toner.

I had used a metallic film and he had hoped it was conductive so he could print circuits.  Sadly the films I was using proved to be non-conductive, so maybe this tecnology will fulfill his dream.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: New type of printed circuits
Ann R. Thryft   11/8/2013 11:57:57 AM
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Chuck I looked up BiStatix, and here's one thing I found:
http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/high-tech-gadgets/rfid2.htm
You're right, the carbon ink was conductive and it was also printed on paper RFID tags. The (undated) article says the technology "didn't catch on with retailers," but doesn't say why. I wonder if it has to do with the low 96-bit storage capacity.

Charles Murray
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Re: New type of printed circuits
Charles Murray   11/8/2013 5:58:04 PM
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Thanks, Ann. The source is right -- it definitely didn't catch on with retailers. Maybe it did have to do with storage capacity. I also wonder if the technology just arrived too early, really, before much of the world was ready for RFID.

EVprofessor
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Re: Do they still make inkjet printers?
EVprofessor   11/8/2013 7:24:27 PM
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Yes, They still make Ink Jet printers and they work "Swell" also they are much less expensive than the Xerox process for black and especially for color printing. Now only the government agencies use impact printers with daisey wheels and print bands, but they want to continue using the carbon paper and NCR forms approved by the state printing office.

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