About this project
Building electronics has always been a compromise between cost, flexibility and time. Squink was created to provide all three, anywhere and to everyone.
Still not convinced?
We want to democratize electronics
Squink is another way to look at circuit prototyping. Unleash your creativity, test your ideas on the spot, improve them quickly, and use a range of materials to make your circuits, all while an intuitive software walks you through the different steps.
But our vision of Squink is so much more than that. We want to lower the knowledge threshold required to play with electronics. By allowing you to share your designs and easily find schematics online, anyone can learn how to dwell in the land of the electrons, and finally bring to life your inanimate items.
Squink is meant to be a portal to an active online community looking to push still farther the boundaries of what any individual can do. This is why we need your help!
Electronics fabrication is an expensive, messy, and time-consuming process
Large manufacturers are expensive and have a long turnaround unless you want to create hundreds of boards, and there is no easy solution when you want to prototype quickly from home.
Squink is fast, affordable, flexible – and disruptive
Unlike hardware, software development is fast and easy. With only a computer, you can imagine, develop, and test any ideas you have. We want to bring the same agile concept to electronics. This is why we built Squink, the personal factory for electronic circuits. It sits on your desk, and prints and assembles your circuits in a matter of minutes on flexible or rigid substrates. Home fabrication of electronic circuits has never been that easy.
From an idea to a circuit – in minutes
You can access your Squink through USB, Ethernet cable, or Wifi. After you create or download circuit design files (GERBER), upload them to Squink and it will walk you through a three step process. You can also use regular PNG files if you feel artistic!
Unleash your creativity
Want to test that last crazy idea you had? Or maybe that board you found online?
Here are some examples of the stuff we have tried. With so many limitations removed, a whole new world of possibilities opens up.
A simple experience of a complex process
We see our technology as an enabler. As such, we believe that the most important part of it is to make circuit fabrication a seamless experience. This is where we need your help! By putting it into your hands as soon as possible, we want to use your feedback to transform Squink into the perfect prototyping machine.
A new world of possibilities
Using additive technologies unlocks new parameters to play with: how about changing the substrate (did you say glass?) or the ink? You are in charge of the process.
Here are some examples discussed in update #4. Print on transparent paper to make beautiful circuits easy to integrate anywhere you want. Electronics can be an art.
An ink we are experimenting with is capable to print on many substrates like FR4 or glass.
Integrating a circuit on your windows might not be so distant.
Squink can pick and place components too
Our pick-and-place system works with a suction mechanism. After it picks up the part from the tray, the part is rotated according to the angle specified in the centroid file (design file automatically generated by your favorite CAD tool). Our optical recognition algorithm adjusts any offsets and the part is placed on the conductive glue dots.
If you feel like modifying part of your circuit or placing the components yourself, you can use conductive tape. Here is how:
The Sheet resistance is calculated by printing an area, measuring the resistance and then dividing by width/length. The final unis is in "Ohms / Sq".
After drawing the line shown above (1cm x 8cm), we measured 0.7 ohms of resistance.
Our sheet resistance is thus: (0.7 / 8) Ohms / sq = 0.0875 ohms / sq
Or around 90 mOhms / sq
Let your voice be heard
Our project is technically diverse, and so is our team. Nicolas is an electrical engineer with a background in robotics. Carlos is a computer engineer who previously built an electric car. Andrew is an experienced front-end engineer who worked for IBM. Mike is a Professor at NYU and an expert in circuit design. George is a back-end engineer with experience from AT&T Labs and DARPA competitions and a PhD student at NYU.
Fighting the status quo
We started working on Squink when we realized that often times technology is the factor undermining cool technical projects, not skills. 3D printers were pushing mechanical design to new heights, but there was nothing out there for electrical design.
Eighteen months ago we formed a small team to work on the proof of concept during a prototyping competition at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering. The final prototype used a syringe to lay down conductive ink and needed a lot of programing for every circuit made. But it worked.
After that initial success, we expanded the team and worked tirelessly to improve the speed and precision by orders of magnitude; created an intuitive interface accessible wirelessly; and experimented with many different inks and materials.
For more details, check out how we got started.
Designed and assembled in the US
Designed in the vibrant DUMBO community in Brooklyn, NY
If your reward includes a T-shirt you can choose between 3 different colors. Here is a preview:
Risks and challenges
As every hardware project, we will face the hardship of dealing with potential manufacturing and supply chain problems. In order to tackle this, we try to keep a close contact with our suppliers and get help from external advisers to keep everything in check. We want to make sure we see problems coming long enough to be able to tackle them without adding delays to our timeline.
We LOVE new features, as long as they add value without adding complexity to the user. This is why we are working around the clock to continue to add things that will make your life easier, but we need you to help us know what matters (otherwise what is the point?). This is a continuous process: we want to continue to work hand in hand with you long after the Kickstarter campaign has ended.
Additional consumables will be available through our website. In case we run out of business *knock on wood* we will publish the name of the providers and our method to create our ink and glue composition.
We calculated (conservatively - hopefully it will be even lower) the price of the consumables.
To produce 50 boards you will need $100 worth of ink and $100 worth of glue.
The circuit has been bent around 400 times before the pins on the main chip gave up on us (It was shown at the MakerFaire and everyone wanted to bend it). The resistance to bending depends highly on the size of the components, the concentration of the glue and how strongly you bend the circuits.
For printing, Squink typically uses GERBER files. But if you feel artistic it can also use image files (PNG, JPG, BMP, etc).
For the pick-and-place, Squink uses centroid files to place the components. Otherwise you can manually describe them.
The accuracy of the inkjet printing process allows for lines as thin as 10mils, as well as a 10mil spacing.
Will you guys be able to make multi-layer PCB assemblies? How would you go about precisely aligning and gluing together different layers?
*Whisper* This is totally confidential but we are thinking of using insulating ink as a physical separation to make multiple layers. There are positive results so far but it is still a work in progress.There would be no need to align-glue different layers. It would "3D print" a circuit.
Although it will not be available for this version by the time we ship the machines, we are hoping to sell it as an add-on later on.
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