Circuit stickers and conductive printing provide an accessible way to rapidly prototype all sorts of electronic circuits. We use a regular inkjet printer to instantly create conductive traces on regular photo paper and combine this with a special type of double-sided tape to stick down electronic sub-circuit elements which we imagine would be sold as a kit for hobbyists, students and researchers.
Circuit stickers are a new way to build electronic prototypes by adhering physical interface elements such as LEDs, sounders, buttons and sensors onto a cheap and easy-to-make substrate which provides the necessary electrical connectivity. This assembly may include control electronics and a battery for standalone operation, or it can be interfaced to a microcontroller or PC.
The wiring which connects the stickers together can be created in different ways. We are particularly interested in leveraging a technique called instant inkjet printing – this is a way of quickly and cheaply printing conductive circuits onto photo-paper using a domestic inkjet printer. This technology is available from a University of Tokyo spin-out. Circuit stickers provide a versatile and low-cost way of extending instant inkjet printing, supporting quick and easy construction of physically flexible and functional interactive prototypes. We think that this technology has potential for design exploration, research prototyping, education and for hobbyist projects.
This work is a collaboration between many different people with diverse backgrounds and interests who are exploring different aspects of the circuit sticker concept. In particular, Jie Qi at MIT and Bunnie Huang are particularly interested in empowering designers, artists, engineers, kids, students and teachers to build interactive projects and have launched a set of stickers for sale.
We would ultimately like to combine these techniques with 3D printing so that devices with both physical form and electronic functionality can be prototyped and manufactured quickly and easily.