Circuits and Conductive Materials
Electrical and electronics are complicated subjects to grasp and implement for a majority of people. The reason even self-build home projects always recommend a qualified electrician. Most of us don’t know how the light comes on, we just know how to press the light switch. I enjoy a good equation and the sciences but electrics and electronics is another world. I can visualise inorganic 3D heterometallic clusters or van der Waal forces any day. However, electronics confuses me every time. With products like Arduino, Raspberry Pi and Makey Makey, bringing coding to school children. Maybe it’s time we all brushed up on circuits before considering coding. The best practical way to do this appears to be by using conductive inks, a simple visualisation of circuits without all the wires.
What is an electrical circuit?
What are conductors?
The connecting wires or transmission lines that allow the flow of charge (electricity) to move through it in one or more directions.
Which materials are conductive?
Conductive materials allow electrical current to flow freely due to their availability of free of electrons. These materials include metals, electrolytes, polymers, plasmas and superconductors. Silver, copper, gold and aluminium are the most conductive metals. However, seawater, graphite (pencils) and the human body are examples of non-metallic conductors.
Let’s look at 3 companies that have made electrical and electronics accessible for all via circuit conductive inks.
Elephantech previously called AgIC is a Japanese start-up that innovates new technology for electronic circuits. AgIC started as a venture spin-off of the University of Tokyo. They currently specialise in printing P-Flex™ flexible printed circuit boards using silver nano inkjet. The online shop was closed in June 2017. However, Amazon stocks the AgIC range which consists of a silver pen (containing silver conductive nanoparticles), an eraser pen and special gloss quality paper. All you need to do is draw a circuit with the silver pen, add some LED lights and a battery. The eraser pen assisted with corrections and changes. The video below by Kandenko (infrastructure firm) displays AgIC miniature 3D paper town.
Circuit Scribe uses a non-toxic conductive ink pen to teach the basics of circuits and electronics. The first generation of kits by Circuit Scribe taught basic circuitry principles. The newer kits build on this basic knowledge to work on applications of circuitry concepts, allowing the user to construct paper circuits, creating a drone, a capacitor touch calculator and musical instruments. Circuit Scribe shows step-by-step guides of DIY projects using Arduino and Makey Makey.
Bare Conductive provides electric paint which can be applied via paintbrush. This non-toxic water-soluble paint air dries at room temperature. The paint contains a water-based dispersion of carbon pigment and natural resin. Therefore, enabling printed electronic technology. With over 200 videos providing tutorials and detailed project guides. You can learn how to interact with touch boards, Makey Makey, Pi Cap, Raspberry Pi and printed sensors.
In conclusion, we are never too old to learn something new or to grasp a tricky concept.
5 Questions to Ponder
- Do you find electrical and electronic concepts difficult to grasp?
- What conductive materials do you prefer?
- Which circuit conductive ink are you keen to try out?
- Which DIY kits interests you?
- What other projects would you use these applications to improve or simplify?