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AgIC transforms a home printer into a circuit board manufacturing equipment. The fastest and cheapest way to print circuits. Read more

Tokyo, Japan Hardware
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This project was successfully funded on April 1, 2014.

AgIC transforms a home printer into a circuit board manufacturing equipment. The fastest and cheapest way to print circuits.

Tokyo, Japan Hardware
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About this project

After the kickstarter campaign, you can order our products at agic.cc !

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook !

AgIC print : Printing circuit boards with home printers

AgIC, named after Ag Inkjet Circuit, transforms home printers into circuit board manufacturing equipment.

Making circuits at home and office

Recent advances in material science have made it possible to manufacture magical conductive ink. The ink contains tiny tiny silver particles whose size is less than a hundred thousandth part of a sesame seed! The ink dries in a few seconds and conductivity emerges instantly when the traces are drawn on our photo inkjet printing paper. You can make circuits exactly as you use a printer using ordinary ink at your home and office.

No more breadboard

Breadboards look like faster way of prototyping, but they can easily become messy. Circuit boards with AgIC technology are much simpler and more beautiful alternatives. You can replicate or revise your circuits as many times as you want.

Prototyping PCBs

Prior to fabricating a permanent printed circuit board (PCB), you can prototype the circuit pattern using AgIC print. If you find your prototype circuit works fine, you are good to go. You can send out the same layout file to a PCB fabrication service. Save your time and money of re-ordering PCBs.

Crisp and sharp traces

Home inkjet printers, which are mass-produced commodities, have surprisingly high precision compared with any other fab equipment available for the same price range.

Circuit patterns you can create with AgIC print are as precise as anything you can print using an inkjet printer. 

Wiring as a part of art

Wiring in electronic circuits are often cumbersome and ugly. With AgIC print, however, you can even make artistic electrical circuits. Existing drawing and painting software such as Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw can be used to design your beautiful and functional circuit elements.

Can be used as a marker

You can also draw your circuits with a marker using the same ink.

Materialize your creativity

As no other existing circuit printing tools were as easy as ours, no one exactly knows what is the limitation of the circuit printing system. We are pretty much sure the examples our team have created represent just a little bit of all the potential applications. 

With a sheet of paper, pieces of tiny electrical components along, and your imagination, you get a flying object, an intelligent sensor, and a wearable device in your hand. Let's materialize your creativity.

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Goals

We have developed a prototype of the circuit printing system using a home inkjet printer, which has been working perfectly in our laboratory. Now we want to deliver this system to the world. We are going to develop a kit that allows you to transform a home inkjet printer into a circuit printer.

We need Kickstarter as we need to manufacture the kit at a large scale to make them affordable. The kit is going to be manufactured both in the US and Japan. 

In addition, we want to develop further functions, including circuit pattern sharing platform, double-side circuit, and insulation coating.

Stretch goals

$100,000 : double-side circuit tools

Currently, you can glue two sheets of printed circuit paper together and electrically connect the two sides using a specific method to make a double-side circuit board. We want to make this easier. We are going to develop rivet-like parts that enable you to make a through hole instantly.

$300,000 : insulation coating

We want to enable you to design insulation coating on the paper circuit board. This requires both developing a material and hacking a printer, but we are sure it would be great if we can develop this.

Backer rewards

$12: SUPPORTER CARD

One sheet of supporter cards + 12 LEDs + conductive tape. 12 pcs of cards are printed on the sheet. You can cut the sheet and paste LEDs on the cards using conductive tape so that they work as USB-powered cards.

Below one piece of card with its LED turned on.

$19: CIRCUIT BRUSH

One affordable conductive ink brush (photo below) + 3 pcs of special coated paper (A4 size) + 20 LEDs + 2 coin batteries + conductive tape + 12 supporter cards.

You can create your own circuit and play with LEDs.

$29: YOUR USB-POWERED BUSINESS CARD

One sheet of business cards with your name + 12 LEDs + conductive tape. 12 pcs of cards are printed on the sheet. You can cut the sheet and paste LEDs on the cards using conductive tape so that they work as USB-powered business cards.

Please send us the content you want us to write on your business card. Below is one piece of my business card with its LED turned on.

$29: PREMIUM CIRCUIT MARKER

One premium conductive ink marker + 12 pcs of special coated paper (A6 size) + 20 LEDs + 2 coin battery + conductive tape + 12 supporter card. The premium marker guarantees smoother and comfortable drawing experience.

You can create your own circuit and play with LEDs.

$170: CLASSROOM KIT

10 premium conductive markers + 20 pcs of special coated paper (A4) + 100 LEDs + 20 coin battery.

This is the similar set as we have used for our workshops. With this kit, you can share a joy of making circuits with your students in your class.

$299: AgIC PRINTING DIY KIT

3 filters + 3 syringes + conductive silver nanoparticle ink 25ml + 20 pcs of special coated paper (A4) + 3 syringes of conductive glue + 1 premium conductive marker + 3 pieces of conductive tapes + developer's parts list.

You can make any circuit including a mbed circuit shown in the video. The recipe of making that circuit and programming mbed and Arduino is going to be available.  

This is a DIY kit and does NOT include an inkjet printer. You need to buy an inkjet printer ($80-100, specified later) and fill conductive ink into cartridges by yourself, following our instruction video (to be developed).

Developer's parts list includes 4 surface mount IC sockets, 2 batteries and mount cases, 2 mbed MCUs (LPC1114FN28), 4 surface mount slide switches, 50+ chip resistors, 50+ chip LEDs and 1 surface mount pinheader (20x2 pins). 

$599: AgIC  FULL PRINTING SYSTEM

One ready-to-use AgIC printer with inkjet paper and accessories! 

One printer (already set-up and ink filled) + 20 pcs of paper (A4 size) + 20 pcs of special coated paper (A4) + 3 syringes of conductive glue + 1 premium conductive marker + 3 pieces of conductive tapes + developer's parts.

You can immediately start making circuits at home and office!

Note: the printer device is not yet determined
Note: the printer device is not yet determined

Production plan

We are going to start to produce USB-powered cards immediately after the Kickstarter period, but as for conductive pen and AgIC print kit, we have to prepare for production. Especially for AgIC print kit, we are going to make the final decision of printer, develop ink injector and establish production facility, which we think takes three months. The visual production timeline is below.

April 2014: production of quick rewards

We are going to produce quick rewards (usb-powered cards), and prepare mass-production of conductive pens and AgIC print kits.

May 2014: first batch shipment & brush/marker production

We are going to ship the quick rewards (usb-powered cards), produce conductive brushes and markers, and prepare mass-production of AgIC print kits.

June 2014: second batch shipment & print kit preparation

We are going to ship marker-related rewards (brushes and markers) and continue production preparation of AgIC print kits.

July 2014: print kit production

We are going to produce and assemble AgIC print kits.

August 2014: print kit shipment

We are going to ship AgIC print kits, and go to do a one-day demo upon requests

Development history

Printer selection

Printer is no doubt the most important device in our system. Even among home inject printers, there are lots of differences. As the silver nanoparticle ink is much easier to get stuck than ordinary ink, the inner pipe structure has to be well separated from atmosphere. In addition, stable supply is another important factor to choose printers. We tried several printers and finally found a good one, which we are using right now, but we are going to seek even better printers.

Resistance reduction

Lower resistance is always appreciated. In addition to the difference of printer, there are multiple tips that have improved conductivity. Some are about printing settings, some are about data to be printed. As shown below, the conductivity has improved a lot and now it has only 0.2 Ohm/Square of resistance. 

Technical Q&As

How many papers can I print with initial ink?

Well, it really depends on what patterns you print. The initial ink can print approx. 600 square inches (0.4 square meters) of conductive patterns, which means 500 feet of 0.1inch-wide line (400 meters of 1mm-wide line). As the area of letter paper is 93.5 square inches, if you fill the one  sixth of paper with conductive ink, you can print 40 pieces of paper.

After the initial delivery, we are going to sell refilling ink and paper. The largest bottle contains 100ML of refilling ink and is going to be available for around $400, which can print 4 square meters, which is... very large. We will sell smaller bottles, but the ink amount of the smaller bottles is yet to be determined.

How long does a printed circuit work?

At least 1 year as long as the printed sheet is not physically broken. As this is a kind of new technology, we have not yet conducted long-term endurance tests, but they worked more than 1 year. Rather than the circuit pattern, it is much more likely to happen that the printed sheets are physically broken as they are just paper. If you use printed papers in a wild environment, it would be better to laminate them.

How much resistance do they have?

0.2-0.3 Ohm/Square. "Ohm/Square" is a bit tricky unit, but it simply means a printed pattern with square shape has 0.2-0.3 ohm. If you print a line with 1mm-width and 10mm-length, it has 2-3 ohm. A line with 1mm-widh and 100mm-length has 20-30 ohm.

Team

Shinya Shimizu

Shinya is the CEO and Co-Founder of AgIC Inc. He is responsible for technology, R&D, and production at AgIC. Shinya received master of electronics and information engineering from the University of Tokyo and has helped Yoshi's research on the silver nanoparticle ink while working for McKinsey & Company after he graduated from the university. 

Masaaki Sugimoto

Masaaki is the Co-Founder of AgIC Inc. He is responsible for sales & marketing at AgIC. He has founded/helped multiple startups, notably Openpool, which was selected as a finalist of the Interactive Award at SXSW. He is a PhD candidate in system design management at Keio University.

Tomy Kamada

Dr. Kamada is the executive mentor of AgIC Inc. He is a co-founder and former CEO of ACCESS Co. Ltd. (listed in Tokyo Stock Exchange: 4813), 
a global software company for mobile and beyond-PC markets. Dr. Kamada received a Doctorate in 
Computer Science from the University of Tokyo. He is also renowned as an inventor of “Compact HTML” 
for mobile phones, enabling successful mobile Internet services. 


In 2012, Dr. Kamada founded TomyK Ltd. - Startup Booster, which actively supports young innovative 
startups. His interests are Robotics, Brain computing, DNA analysis, Life healthcare, Space, and Education.

Yoshihiro Kawahara

Prof. Kawahara is the technical adviser of AgIC Inc. He is known for his academic achievements in multiple spheres, including energy harvesting, wireless power transmission, and this inkjet circuit printing. AgIC is a spin-off company based on his research named instant inkjet circuits. He is an associate professor at the University of Tokyo and also giving us technical advice.

Contributors

Yuki Nishida

Yuki is a master's course student at CMU and has been supporting sales & marketing in the US .

Naoto Hayashi 

Part-time researcher at AgIC and an undergraduate student at the University of Tokyo.

Haruki Kawakami

Part-time researcher at AgIC and an undergraduate student at the University of Tokyo.

Yoritaka Furukawa

Part-time researcher at AgIC and an undergraduate student at the University of Tokyo.

Kentaro Goto

Technical helper at AgIC and the CEO of Hongo Design Office.

Special thanks

Akichika Tanaka

Special evangelist in Bay Area. He has helped our activity in Silicon Valley a lot and even invented several applications using our technology! Thanks a lot, Akichika!

Jumpei Mitsui

Jumpei is one of the 12 (and only one in Asia) LEGO certificated professionals. He is one of the crazy AgIC supporters and provided us a fantastic LEGO artwork!

Important notes for DIY users

If you are going to get a full-printing system, a marker, or a brush, you don't have to worry about choosing a printer. Only if you are going to get a DIY kit, you have to purchase a printer yourself.

Recommended printers

Technically, you can use any kind of inkjet printer as long as you can find a way to inject conductive ink into the cartridges. However, we strongly recommend specific printers so that you can easily use them with our dedicated injection tools we are going to provide.

The recommended printers are going to be specified before the delivery of the DIY kits. 

Used printers are not recommended

To get the best result, used printers are not recommended for AgIC printing system because they already contain ink in their inner pipes, which contaminates conductive ink. We suggest buying a new one for AgIC printing system.

Well, technically, you can clean the inner pipes by using cleaning fluid, but you know, new printers are sold at reasonable price ($80-100). We strongly recommend to buy a new one.

Risks and challenges

We have identified several risks and challenges to manufacture and deliver our product.

Quality control:
So far we have tested our prototypes in our laboratory intensively, but mass production is going to be a different story. We plan to purchase a part of our components in China, which means we have to communicate with the local producers very clearly and carefully to make sure the product is produced exactly as our design. To mitigate those quality risks, we are collaborating with some Chinese-speaking supporters and planning to conduct multiple layers of quality tests in Japan and the US.

Supply chain:
We are going to purchase components in China, Japan and the US, assemble them both in Japan and the US, and sell them mainly in the US, which means we have to manage our supply chain over multiple countries. To reduce risks around the supply chain, we are designing our product to minimize the number of parts and manufacture complicated parts under our direct control in Japan.

Company scale up:
Now AgIC has only 8 people including part-time members. To expand our sales globally, scaling up our company with sustainable way is going to be a big challenge.
To achieve the successful scale-up, we have already started recruiting people not only in Japan but also in the US.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $12 or more

    25 backers

    SUPPORTER CARD: Thank you for your support! You will get one sheet (12pcs) of usb-powered supporter cards. You can plug a card into USB and turn a LED on.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $19 or more

    165 backers

    CIRCUIT BRUSH: Affordable circuit writer.
    USB-powered supporter card + conductive ink brush + special coated paper + LEDs + coin battery.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $29 or more

    479 backers

    PREMIUM CIRCUIT MARKER:
    Premium circuit writer.USB-powered supporter card + premium circuit marker + special coated paper + LEDs + coin battery.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $29 or more

    31 backers

    YOUR USB-POWERED BUSINESS CARD: usb-powered business card with your name printed

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $170 or more

    17 backers

    CLASSROOM KIT: 10 premium conductive markers + 20 special coated paper + 100 LEDs + 20 coin battery. You can try this kit in a classroom for educational purpose. You can share a joy of making circuits with your students at your class!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $279 or more

    10 backers All gone!

    EARLY BIRD AGIC PRINTING DIY KIT: a DIY kit that transforms an inkjet printer into a circuit board maker.
    Basic printing kit + developer's devices (MCUs, transistors, etc.). This does NOT include a inkjet printer so you need to buy one.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $299 or more

    62 backers

    AGIC PRINTING DIY KIT: a DIY kit that transforms an inkjet printer into a circuit board maker.
    Basic printing kit + developer's devices (MCUs, transistors, etc.). This does NOT include a inkjet printer so you need to buy one.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $499 or more

    10 backers All gone!

    AGIC FULL PRINTING SYSTEM [EARLY BIRD]: Ready-to-use AgIC printing system including printer. You can immediately start printing circuits. Tools and sample parts included

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $599 or more

    48 backers

    AGIC FULL PRINTING SYSTEM: Ready-to-use AgIC printing system including printer. You can immediately start printing circuits. Tools and sample parts included

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $2,000 or more

    0 backers Limited (10 left of 10)

    FULL SETUP & DEMO [JAPAN]: AgIC team will go to your workspace, setup an AgIC printing system, and do a full 1 day demo. (JAPAN ONLY)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $3,500 or more

    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    FULL SETUP & DEMO [US]: AgIC team will go to your workspace, setup an AgIC printing system, and do a full 1 day demo. (US only)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world

Funding period

- (30 days)