Technology
HOW TO – Flexible printed circuit board

diyflexiblecircuitboard.jpg

Instructables user ckharnett has a guide up about printing your own flexible circuit board using a flexible copper-clad material called Pyralux. Assuming you can get your hands on the stuff (the site recommends asking DuPont for a free sample or looking on eBay), the rest of the process seems fairly straightforward and quite interesting. Via EMSL.

8 thoughts on “HOW TO – Flexible printed circuit board

  1. This stuff is based on Kapton, which is a form of polyimide. This site (http://www.kaptontape.com/ ) has plenty of tapes available for purchase. Personally, having used Kapton before, I know that the only thing that sticks to it is… pretty much nothing. Wiki and a few other sources show that you can dissolve the surface with Xylene, but that’s really toxic. The process that I know of, then, to make your own Pyralux from Kapton:
    1. Activate the surface by exposing Kapton to UV light for several hours.
    2. Add water or alcohol to the surface to allow for adhesion.
    3. Add microThin Copper foil ( http://www.oakmitsui.com/pages/advancedTechnology/microThin.asp ), or any other thin foil, like gold leaf.
    4. Smooth foil and remove backing.
    5. Bake to remove the adhesion agent.

    You can also further bake the Kapton itself, but its melting point is about 500 °C (940 °F), so it’s going to be a bit difficult to try to bond the foil this way. Further UV exposure would probably be helpful.

    Also, I have never tried this process. It’s just something I’ve worked up with some friends of mine here at the Materials Research Lab. No guarantees that it will work, and I will soon post if I get to try it myself.

  2. The copper tape used in window security systems since the 80s also makes for a decent flexible conductor when applied to a substrate such as overhead projector sheets (though it requires using extremely low-temp soldering techniques) or there are heat resistant flexible plastic sheets available through industrial suppliers.

  3. The instructable has been around for quite a while, but I’ve never been able to get my hands on any Pyralux to try this out. Fnord, if you develop a workable alternative please publish the results: I’m sure a lot of people would appreciate it.

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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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