Japanese startup AgIC is aiming to streamline the circuit prototyping process with a new conductive ink that can be used in ordinary household inkjet printers, and that offers an interesting set of flexible properties.
Normally, breadboarding an envisioned circuit can be a sloppy affair, and when you have it working you’re still left with the task of generating the PCB design, having it made, and verifying that it too will work as desired.
With AgIC’s creation, the process skips straight to the PCB. Create your layout in Eagle, 123D Circuits, or even Illustrator, print it, affix the components, and test it out. If changes are needed, they can be tested in minutes.
The inkjet system, currently with a few days remaining on Kickstarter, uses a re-filled cartridge and a Brother inkjet printer. It requires the use of glossy photo paper, or plastic transparencies, and the components can be connected with conductive glue or tape. We even tested the ink with hot solder and were surprised that it held together, although not reliably enough to use normally. Once printed, adding a piece of cardstock to the pack firms it up and lets you replicate the feel of a hard plastic PCB.
But without the hard backing, interesting options open up. The ink has a surprising amount of flexibility, and can be easily bent and folded. With it, creating fast wearables becomes easy, and building circuits into items like paper airplanes offers interesting creative options as well.
And the ink can be manipulated to create resistance, to make paper antenna, and a variety of other electronic aspects.
AGiC also offers the conductive ink in a pen format, similar to the wildly successful Kickstarted CircuitScribe, but the inkjet printing aspect is what has captured our imagination. If you get one, let us know what you make.