Researchers from Georgia Tech, the University of Tokyo and Microsoft Research have developed a novel method to rapidly and cheaply make electrical circuits by printing them with commodity inkjet printers and off-the-shelf materials. For about $300 in equipment costs, anyone can produce working electrical circuits in the 60 seconds it takes to print them. To make the technique possible, researchers optimized commercially available tools and materials including printers, adhesive tape and the silver ink. Designing the circuit itself was accomplished with desktop drawing software, and even a photocopy of a drawing can produce a working circuit.
“There is an opportunity to introduce a new approach to the rapid prototyping of fully custom-printed circuits,” said Gregory Abowd, Regents’ Professor in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech and an investigator in the study. “Unlike existing methods for printing conductive patterns, conductivity in our technique emerges within a few seconds and without the need for special equipment.”
“Everything we introduced in our research is available in the market and makes it possible for people to try this at home,” said Yoshihiro Kawahara, Associate Professor at the University of Tokyo and the primary investigator who developed the methodology while in Atlanta. “The method can be used to print circuit boards, sensors and antennas with little cost, and it opens up many new opportunities.”