This Illuminated Flower Is A Flexible PCB Sculpture

Art & Sculpture Electronics
This Illuminated Flower Is A Flexible PCB Sculpture

The world of sculptures and electronics often meet with custom PCBs that are formed and shaped to look great bare, without an enclosure. We’ve seen plenty of fantastic sculptures but this flexible PCB flower is a new one to us. It’s simply beautiful.

photos by @Whixr

This beautiful bouquet was designed by Addie of Tymkrs using the OSHPark PCB service. I reached out and asked a few questions to shed some light on the subject.

Where did you get the idea: 

This idea actually has been percolating ever since I realized flexi-PCBs were a thing available to the diy-er, maybe around 2018–2019 or so? The first thing I thought when I realized they were an option from OSHPark/Elecrow was exactly this, a flower :).  I had a grand idea of creating my favorite flower, a peony, and went about getting quotes for 100 petals. The cost brought me back down to earth and I got 10 instead! As many other diy-ers understand, other projects ended up taking up my time (#badgelife) and so it sat on the backburner. However, this year’s Defcon theme was Homecoming and immediately I thought I could finally bring my idea of a flexi-PCB flower as a corsage to fruition! The flower consists of 13 petals each containing 2 LEDs and 2 resistors, and 4 pads for the wires.

Is this your first try at flexible PCBs as art?

It is my first try at flexible PCBs as art though not my first try at PCBs as art.

I’ve been part of the #badgelife “movement” since 2016 and firmly believe in PCBs as an art medium.  It’s always interesting how turning on and off different PCB layers, and allowing light to filter through those layers in various ways brings out colors you’d never expect to see.


Got any other stuff that our readers should check out?

I don’t quite have anything as organic as the flower but do think that some of the work we’ve done with badges show the versatility of what we enjoy trying with the PCB manufacturers that are now available to hobbyists. 

For Example, our cube badge where we experimented with not only dimensionality but how the badge would look with light going through holes or through FR4 without copper or soldermask. And we also indulged in experimenting with FR4 with copper and no soldermask or FR4 without copper and soldermask present to discover the subtleties one can get with the 3d nature of PCB layers in and of themselves. 

We furthered this experimentation with our phone badge.  Oh and using PCBs as cams in our 2021 DISC Badge.


What are you working towards next?

We have quite a few badge projects coming up that our tymkrs team just spent some time feature creeping :).  Even though year after year we tell ourselves to take it easy, we get excited about another idea that we haven’t tried yet, and well, that’s #badgelife :).  We’re also working on some of our eurorack products that can be found on Tindie which incorporate some of our badge experience with eurorack modules.

Check out the Tymkrs youtube for more videos of cool stuffa.


Was there a particularly difficult part of the flexible flower that you had to overcome?

So I mentioned that this project had been on the backburner for years, really.  And during that time, those petals travelled to many different places in my office, to the point where I thought I had lost them!  But I knew Defcon was coming up and I really wanted to work on this project for that deadline, and so I bit the bullet and bought another 10 petals (still not cheaper now than before!). The day before I received the new petals, I found the old petals. And somehow, I ended up misplacing the new petals within 10 minutes of having received them. It was pretty silly :p!  But thankfully, I managed to find all of them and started soldering wires to the base of the petals.  I have since learned that to prevent the pads from delaminating and essentially breaking off of the PCB, the pads need to be on both sides of the flexi-PCB with vias running through them.  As a result, out of 20 petals, I could only use 13.  The rest are now in a pile where I may be able to expose the remaining wires and try to resuscitate them into a life of a boutonniere :). 


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I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity I see in makers. My favorite thing in the world is sharing a maker's story. You can find me on twitter at @calebkraft

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