Draw and Erase Your Circuits by Hand with Confidence
Draw and Erase Your Circuits by Hand with Confidence
Ever wish you could ditch those pesky wires? Well, now you can - for good. Draw and erase circuits like it's no big deal.
Ever wish you could ditch those pesky wires? Well, now you can - for good. Draw and erase circuits like it's no big deal. Read more
About this project
Nectro is a specialized pen filled with conductive ink created using advanced nano-technology. With Nectro, you can draw functional circuits on photo paper or on our specially coated transparent film. And you can also correct your mistakes using the erasing tip, just like a regular eraser.
Nectro for Learners
After we created the Nectro pen, we realized that a single tool was not enough to make electric circuits accessible to everyone. So, we also developed several new items to make a complete system: coated transparent film, magnetic components and a circuit library. The transparent film allows for easy tracing of existing circuit templates. Simply place this film on top of the circuit template provided, trace the circuit with the Nectro pen, add the magnetic components, then you have a fully functional circuit! It’s that easy!
At this point you may be thinking, "It's a cool product, but I don't know anything about circuits! I wouldn't even know where to start!" Fear not young padawan; we've developed a complete system for people like you. Just pick up the pen and get ready to be amazed at the creations that flow from your hand! Nectro lets everyone enjoy the fun of building circuits!
Nectro for Professionals
So you're a professional, eh? Not a problem. Simply draw your design on the photo paper and attach the components using silver glue! You'll have your prototype finished in seconds. It's that easy!
With Nectro, you can add a an entirely NEW dimension to your creation. Check out the video below to see how Nectro changes a regular Toronto skyline into a dynamic and interactive cityscape. The colourful LED lights are controlled by the hand-made keyboards below the painting. WARNING: don't expect to find any wires in it because there are none!
Say goodbye to the messy, inefficient breadboard that drives you nuts. They take forever to assemble and get working properly. A regular circuit will eat away your time as you try to determine WHERE ON EARTH you made a mistake - Nectro fixes that problem too. ///Unfortunately, it won't come alive and speak to you to tell you where the mistake is, but because you can see each connection in plain sight, you will likely notice a bad connection or incorrect layout as soon as you step back to look at it!/// With the Nectro conductive pen, you can draw out your circuit the same as your circuit diagram, making it clean, clear and under control.
Not only is Nectro easier to assemble and troubleshoot, it's also a lot CHEAPER. Forget about the circuit board, just grab Nectro and a piece of photo paper, and finish your circuit in a few minutes! It saves you time, and saves you money.
Oh no! You made a mistake! Now you have to painstakingly redraw that exact same circuit ALL over again --- Oh wait. No you don't! Nectro's eraser tip contains a specially formulated erasing ink, which both interrupts the current, allowing you to 'undo' your last line AND primes the surface again in case you decide to redo your 'oops' moment. We filled the opposite tip of the Nectro conductive pen with this erasing ink because no one has the time to look for a separate erasing apparatus. We call it the “erasing tip” because it’s just as simple to use as a regular eraser!
Dries Instantly with High Conductivity
Other products currently on the market claim to be ‘quick dry’, but still take several MINUTES to dry and, worse, conductivity is not even guaranteed --- you may need to wait for HOURS and still not achieve high conductivity. We understand that when you’re eager to create something, waiting even a couple minutes can really interfere with your workflow.
With the Nectro conductive ink pen, the line you trace dries in 3 SECONDS FLAT. With instant high conductivity and no residue, it's faster and reliable than any product on the market! Don't believe us? Check out the video below to see the real-time demonstration of Nectro's instant high conductivity:
The ink’s water-based property ensures uniform strokes, unlike any other product on the market. These other products use gel-based ink and a ballpoint pen. Because of this approach, when you draw a trace with their product, you never know if it's going to work or if you have to fiddle around with it trying to get the ink to come out. You're busy. You shouldn't have to be worrying about finding a pen that actually works when you're designing something!
Scouring your house or apartment for a pen that actually works is something that we cannot stand, and for a circuit developer, it can be a real nightmare. Nectro water-based ink makes sure that stroke of the pen has a great conductivity and is absolutely 100% reliable. In the case that you don't enjoy shading in straight lines using a fine tip pen like the other guys, we've also developed Nectro to have a special wedge-shaped tip, which allows you to easily draw lines of different widths, increasing workflow efficiency, and saving you a lot of ink.
What Are People Saying About Nectro?
*Nectro conductive ink and erasing ink are compatible with most of photo paper on the market, we will provide you detailed list of recommended photo paper brand and model.
We came up with the idea of a "hand-written" circuit prototype in September 2012 while Tengyuan was struggling with breadboard wiring and paying more than a hundred dollars for a single PCB prototype. Tengyuan was able to find a "conductive ink pen" on the market and after spending more than $70 and two weeks waiting, he had high expectations. However, the terrible user experience and extremely poor reliability (the drawn lines were not conductive and took 24 hours to dry, not to mention the super pungent smell and the need to wear gloves and a fume hood to use it!) meant that the pen was destined for the trash. This confirmed our decision to develop our own conductive ink pen.
The idea spread quickly in the Western University Micro-Nano-Bio Systems Lab and was supported by Dr. Yang. Six months later in March 2014, a team was assembled for this project, with the goal of developing a non-toxic highly conductive ink which can provide superior writing experience and 100% reliability. We tried again and again, kept modifying, innovating, and tried again. In October 2014, after working on this project for almost two years, we got what we wanted --- the first generation of the Nectro conductive pen. We didn't stop at that point. In February 2015 the ultra erasing ink was also successfully developed. As we are really pursuing an ultimate user experience, we re-designed every detail of the pen. By the end of March 2015, we finished the prototype of the second generation of Nectro conductive pen.
There is another thing we want to do: we want everyone to be able to enjoy the fun of circuits, whatever his/her age, background or job. We’ve already created a powerful tool, but as with other products, a single tool is not enough for full and widespread enjoyment of making circuits. So we started to design a component adapter which is tailored for this pen. Through different generations of 3D printed models, we finally found an elegant solution.
Tengyuan Zhang (left)
Tengyuan is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Mechanical & Materials Engineering at Western University. He is the inventor of the room temperature self healing conductive ink and ultra erasing ink. Tengyuan's research interest is in the printed flexible and stretchable electronics. He received his M.E.Sc. Degree from Western University in 2013. He holds a bachelor degree in Aerospace Engineering and a minor in Business Management from Beijing Institute of Technology, China. Tengyuan was awarded the Remin Scholarship and Excellent Student Leader in 2011 by the Beijing Government and BIT, outstanding Graduates in 2012.
Junming Li (middle)
Junming Li graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a Masters degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He's the main designer of the circuit part and components part. In his undergraduate program, he took part twice in the National College Students Electronic Design Competition as a team leader, winning the provincial first prize both times. Throughout his four-year undergraduate degree, he worked on many projects from sketch to prototype, giving him significant experience in dealing with requirement analysis, prototype design and quality control. Beyond that, his family runs a factory in China, so he has a lot of relationships in the production industry in China.
Jun Yang (right)
Jun Yang is an associate professor in Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering Program, Western University. Prof. Jun Yang is the founder of Micro-Nano-Bio Systems Lab, his research interests include micro/nanofabrication, surface engineering, additive manufacturing, printed electronics, flexible electronics, MEMS/NEMS/BioMEMS, lab-on-a-chip, sensors and actuators. Dr. Yang was a recipient of 2006 PetroCanada Young Innovators Award, 2008 Canada Foundation for Innovation-Leaders Opportunity Fund (LOF) Award, 2009 Early Researcher Award, 2012 University’s Faculty Scholar Award and 2015 Xerox UAC Award.
Eaton Asher (left)
Eaton Asher is currently an undergraduate student in Western University studying Neuroscience. He has experience mentoring small businesses who struggle with workflow efficiency, and helps bring a unique perspective to all of his work with his knowledge of the human mind. His aspiration is to completely revolutionize the Canadian and American education systems through the application of neuroscientific concepts and rigorous, evidence based programs. Eaton has helped us turn our vision of transforming ideas into reality, and is our resident educational consultant who ensures all the material leaving the company is optimised to be easily understood by everyone from beginners to experts.
Ian Hasse (middle)
Ian Haase is the Director of Entrepreneurship at Western University, and manages Propel, the on-campus business accelerator and co-working space. Prior to his role at Western, Ian spent 4 years working at the Regional Innovation Centre (RIC) TechAlliance, assisting numerous early-stage technology companies while managing the day-to-day operations of the Startup Services team. Throughout his career Ian has personally assisted more than 300 startup companies, and was the founder and CEO of Spatial Solutions, a successful software company based in Montreal. Ian plays an active role on a number of organizations and committee’s in London Ontario with respect to entrepreneurship and local economic development. Ian holds an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business, a M.Sc. from McGill University and a BA from Western University.
Ryan Kilpatrick (right)
Ryan is currently completing a Master of Engineering Science degree at Western University at London, Ontario with a focus on wind energy, and has been involved with experiments conducted at Western's new Wind Engineering, Energy and Environment Research Institute (WindEEE). A professional engineer, Ryan's interests include renewable energy, sustainability and mechanical design. In previous roles, Ryan worked in environmental consulting with a national non-profit organization, as well as with a large engineering consulting firm on applications ranging from biomass gasification to large hydro.
Micro-Nano-Bio Systems Lab (left)
Micro-Nano-Bio Systems Lab at Western University was founded by Dr. Yang in 2005. The research program carried by Micro-Nano-Bio Systems Lab is to apply the-state-of-art micro/nanotechnology to solve the existing and emerging challenges in the engineering fields. Particularly the research is focused on micro/nanofabrication, advanced functional materials, additive manufacturing, printed electronics, 3D printing, flexible and wearable electronics, etc.
Propel of Western University (right)
Propel is part of the Campus-Linked Accelerator (CLA) program, an initiative of the Ontario Government and administered through the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE). The centre provides co-working space, mentorship, seed funding, events and acts as an advocate for local youth-based (aged 18-29) startups in the community. Propel is located in Western University, London, Ontario.
Risks and challenges
Developing Nectro has been a long journey comprised of both painful failures and euphoric breakthroughs. Because of these experiences we are confident that we will overcome any obstacles that may lie in the way of bringing Nectro to all of our users!
Here are some of the most critical planned milestones along with expected obstacles that we intend to overcome:
MASS PRODUCTION - INK
We are quite comfortable producing the conductive and erasing ink in our lab, but when it comes to mass production, there are additional complications.
Unfortunately, scaling up production is not as simple as using a bigger pot like making food for family and friends - it requires a complete overhaul on the manufacturing process so we can ensure each and every drop of ink is as reliable as the last! Even the slightest miscalculation here will result in an unusable product, and that is why we have already devised a plan to make this work.
To ensure the quality of the product and the efficiency of manufacturing, we have decided to build the mass production line for both conductive inks and erasing inks by ourselves, so that we can have direct control of everything. This will involve ordering necessary equipment, setting them up and tuning the manufacturing process for an optimized result, which introduces some variables and potential timeline setbacks. We have built a good relationship with an equipment provider, and their specialized engineers will make the scale up process run more smoothly, so we are confident we can overcome these challenges.
Like all projects, it's always difficult to find the perfect vendors for the wide range of raw materials that are needed for final production. The co-founders of Nectro Inc. have strong relationships with the most renowned manufacturers in China, and are very familiar with the Chinese culture. Because of this unique capability, we're able to eliminate the barriers other companies face when communicating with Chinese manufacturer/vendors, and this guarantees that Nectro will have a highly reliable and high quality supply chain from inception paper.
Around five months ago, we travelled to China to meet with different manufacturers and discussed potential raw material vendors, injection moulding companies, and several companies providing assembly lines. We carefully checked and investigated all the companies available and selected the most advanced and dependable of them all - we're happy to say that we have been able to form great relationships with these companies and have overcome all the obstacles we've faced together!
We know that there will be more challenges when we commence mass production, but by working with our trusted partners, we are confident that we will deliver a high quality product to each and every one of you ON TIME.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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