About this project
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Circuit Scribe: Draw Circuits InstantlyCircuit Scribe is for Makers, STEM Educators, Artists, Kids, & Life Hackers. We wanted to make it easier for Makers to Make.
No shaking, no squeezing, no goop, no smell, no waiting for ink to dry. Circuit Scribe draws smooth lines with conductive silver ink and allows you to create functioning circuits instantly.
Circuit Scribe is for Makers of all ages and skill sets.
STEM Education: Circuit Scribe was made for project based learning. Kids can build circuits and switches in their notebooks and use those concepts to get creative!
Low-Cost High Quality Electronics: You can build a circuit with nothing but a coin battery, paper clip, and LED, or build out complex circuits with multiple components.
Flexible Electronics: Draw your circuits, cut them out, and stuff them into your inventions - instant robot guts.
Goodbye Breadboard: Breadboards add a level of abstraction and annoyance to circuit building. With Circuit Scribe you can draw exactly what you want, no wires or breadboard required.
Open-Source Hardware: You can use Circuit Scribe with Arduino, Makey Makey, and many other electronic platforms.
We wanted to make creating with Circuit Scribe even easier for our KICKSTARTER backers, so we developed a series of electronic components just for you! These components will snap directly onto the page as long as you have something magnetic behind them, such as a refrigerator door, small piece of steel, magnet, etc. The components depicted are prototypes, the design of the final components may be a little different.
We’re really excited to see what you come up with! We've been working on Circuit Scribe for a few years now, and we can't wait to take it from prototype to product!
Right now we brew small batches of ink and fill each pen by hand. We need KICKSTARTER’s help to scale up our ink production and fill our first order of pens. We want Circuit Scribe to be affordable, so we need to manufacture them at a large scale. We've found a USA manufacturer who will work with us to produce batches of pens, but we need your help to make it happen! We've put together some Kits for our backers that make it easy to learn & build with Circuit Scribe. The components depicted are prototypes and will evolve as we hear your feedback and develop the final designs. We can't wait to see what you make!
Thank You for helping us reach our goal! We can't wait to get Circuit Scribe out to our Backers!!
$250,000 - Circuit Scribe Edu Platform & STEM Outreach
GOAL REACHED! Now we can make the robust, user-friendly, online education portal of our dreams! We are hard at work building a platform for kids, educators, & makers with activities, lesson plans, and user-submitted projects.
$650,000 - Magnetic Sheet for Kit Activity Books & Maker Notebooks
GOAL REACHED! A Magnetic Sheet will now be added to Activity Books and Maker Notebooks that come as part of the Classroom Kit, Maker Kit, Developer Kits, & Basic Kit + Book Rewards Levels. If you'd like to get an additional Magnetic Sheet as part of your Reward, just add $5 to your pledge!
You can place the light-weight magnetic sheet under any sheet of paper and snap your components into your drawings! Check it out:
$1,000,000 - Resistor Pen
If we hit $1M we can produce a Resistor Pen. The pen will let you draw resistors into your Circuit Scribe circuit sketches. See it in action:
KICKSTARTER BACKER REWARDS:
Give Circuit Scribe as a gift!
Do you want to give Circuit Scribe or a Kit to a teacher, school, kid, or friend? You can print out this Gift Certificate so they have something to unwrap! Just fill in the Pledge Level to let them know what you got them. Unfortunately we cannot ship to multiple addresses, so we'll ship the reward to you and you can deliver the gift in person.
Having Fun With Makey Makey!
Circuit Scribe Inventor Analisa Russo & Makey Makey Co-Inventor Eric Rosenbaum making some beats with their inventions:
The Story Behind Circuit Scribe
Electroninks Incorporated is a spin-off company from the research lab of Professor Jennifer Lewis located in the Research Park at the University of Illinois. We’re all about creating low-cost, high-quality electronics. We wanted to get electronics into people's hands and thought that using things as ubiquitous as pen and paper was just the way to do it. So we've developed a non-toxic, water-based, conductive silver ink for use in rollerball pens. Back in 2011 we published a paper in Advanced Materials:
Our conductive ink was named Invention of the Month by Popular Science!
And a video of our brewing process was featured in Chemical and Engineering News:
We got a ton of emails asking if we could make the pen available commercially. So we started tinkering and sending out prototype pens to Makers. The feedback was great! Check out what Jay Edry made with the prototype:
We've done quite a bit of development work in order to make the pen you see in the videos. The prototype pens are Sakura Gelly Roll Metallic pens. We clean the pens by hand and refill them with the conductive silver ink. The ink has to be precisely tuned so that it flows just the right amount of ink in order to create a conductive circuit - otherwise it spreads into the paper too quickly or doesn't flow smoothly out of the pen.
The final design of the basic Circuit Scribe pen will look similar to the prototype displayed here and in the video. We plan to purchase the parts directly from Sakura or partner with them outright to manufacture the pens. The quality of the pen and the reasonable price make this the ideal choice for our ink. The rollerball pen design works really well, is cost effective, and we love the utilitarian simplicity of it. It also writes for a while (60-80 meters). The written lines achieve a conductivity of 50-100 milliohms per square per mil.
The final components will look very similar to the prototype components in the video & photos. We're working with a USA based manufacturer to produce these components and get them to you on time!
The LED component contains two different-colored LEDs, if you flip the component to change the direction of the current, the other LED will light up:
You can add your own resistors, capacitors, LEDs, and many other components to our 2 PIN board:
What would you build with Circuit Scribe? Let us know on Facebook!
Michael Bell: Electroninks Consultant, is a PhD student working on 3D Printing of Electronics in the Lewis Research Group and is designing and developing the electronic components for the Circuit Scribe with Analisa. Michael is also in charge of manufacturing components. His background is in computer and mechanical engineering, with extensive experience manufacturing electromechanical devices.
Steve Shewchuk: Electroninks Incorporated Intern and UIUC MatSE Undergrad
Bok Yeop Ahn: Ink developer and post-doc in the Lewis Research Group. Bok created an early version of the colloidal silver ink now used in Circuit Scribe and has been a long-time mentor for our rollerball pen research.
Risks and challenges
As with many Kickstarter projects, we face several key risks and challenges by pursuing production of this pen. Primary risks include:
In order for the pen to work very easily for the end-user, we have spent a considerable amount of time designing and optimizing the ink to work reliably in the rollerball pen. As we work with a manufacturer to take Circuit Scribe from prototype to product, we will need to ensure that the functionality and reliability of the pen are never compromised.
This is perhaps the largest challenge of them all. Right now we produce the ink and load the pens on our lab, which means we have direct control over the quality of our product and our production timetables. In order to produce a large run of pens, several manufacturers must work in tandem to make this project a reality, which introduces many variables, potential complications and potential timeline setbacks. We will work directly with contract manufacturers to produce and optimize the ink, we will also work with pen manufacturers to produce and package the pens after the ink has been produced, and finally, we will work with the pen manufacturer to make sure the pens achieve the quality necessary for a finished consumer product that will write easily and reliably while producing conductive traces that dry quickly at room temperature. We already have a working relationship with the contacts listed to speed to development and manufacturing process to ensure timely delivery to our backers. Delivering a high quality product to our KICKSTARTER Backers is our number one priority.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
If you’d like multiple rewards you can make a pledge for the combined total of all the rewards you want (plus $10 shipping to Canada, $15 for International Shipping). Then message us to let know exactly what you want.
For example, if you want 2 Maker Kits you should make a pledge for $100 (plus shipping if necessary), select a Maker Kit as your pledge level, then message us to let us know that you want 2 Maker Kits. If you want to add on an additional Circuit Scribe, just add $20 to your pledge and message us to let us know. If we see a lot of people want multiples of pens & Kits we'll add new reward tiers and let you know!
If a Notebook or Activity Book already comes as part of your Kit and you want an additional Book, add 5$ for every additional book. If you haven’t already ordered a book, add $10 for a book.
An unopened pen has a shelf life of about a year, we’re optimizing the ink to try to make it last longer. Once it’s opened the pen will write smooth for at least 6 months, after that it may dry out a bit, but you can wet the tip of the pen to get the ink flowing again.
Tips to make it last longer: Keep the cap. Store it tip down. Keep it away from hot dry environments.
We drew traces three years ago that still work today.
You can draw 60-80m (196-260 ft) worth of lines with 1 Circuit Scribe.
Not right now. We are looking into producing a Circuit Scribe Pro, which would be a metal pen with refillable cartridges. The Circuit Scribe Pro’s would be in the $125-$150 range. If you would be interested in a Pro, message us and let us know!
This ink is optimized for use in rollerball pens. We do make inkjet printable inks and may have an ink to suit your needs. Please message us for more info.
Regular printer paper and photo paper work really well. Photo paper works well because it has a smooth texture and the ink can form a continuous film on top of the paper. On more porous papers like card stock, the ink sinks in and doesn’t perform as well.
The ink can support a maximum current of about 175 mA on standard copy paper. Higher currents cause joule heating and a subsequent drop in resistance due to sintering the particles (up to around 8x decrease in resistance if controlled). Currents exceeding 400 mA may break the trace on standard copy paper. High currents can be achieved with photo paper, near 800mA.
The maximum voltage depends on the distance of your ground and high voltage (HV) trace. You should also consider the distance the magnetic backing is to the paper (i.e., keep it well insulated with multiple sheets of paper). We do not recommend using high voltages (above 36V) due to safety.
The ink is optimized for paper. We haven't had great results on fabric. The ink coats the fabric fibers, but can't really bridge between them to form a continuous conductive line. It may be possible on some fabrics (especially with a tight weave) if you draw over the same line several times.
If you are shipping to the US, your shipping is included in your pledge.
If you are shipping to Canada, add $10 to your order and don't click international shipping.
If you are shipping to any country outside of the US or Canada, click international shipping and $15 will be added to your order.
The ink formula is made for a gel rollerball pen, and a quick test to see if you can use this on a PCB solder mask or any surface is to see if your generic rollerball pen will write first.
The ink itself will stick to a solder mask and bare fiberglass (like FR4), but dispensing the ink is another issue. The slick surface of the solder mask/fiberglass prevents the rollerball in the pen tip from turning, thus no ink will come out. Try using your standard black/blue/red/green rollerball pen and you'll see the same issue. Our pen was designed for paper use, but we may look into other formats of the pen post-kickstarter.
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