I've designed some interesting prototypes with conductive paint (bare paint). I'd like to see if I can make them more space efficient via some sort of printed design. However, I would like to keep using ink on paper, ie, actual PCBs are out of the question for this project.

Are there any off the shelf cost effective ways of printing a conductive pattern to paper?

Bonus love if you know if printing is possible with a transparent solution like: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indium_tin_oxide

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Have you ruled out flexible PCBs? (polyimide) \$\endgroup\$
    – pjc50
    Aug 9 '13 at 19:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think so, I'd like to keep this stuff on paper. \$\endgroup\$
    – j03m
    Aug 9 '13 at 19:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ ITO is NOT what you are looking for. It requires vapour deposition in a vacuum then patterning. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 9 '13 at 19:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ For my education, why do you want to print conductive tracks onto paper? \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Aug 9 '13 at 23:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Refill a used ink cartridge with molten copper. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 1 '17 at 19:32

Boy, this seems like an HP7475-style plotter hacked to take a pen with conductive ink would be the way to go. These were plotters that moved pens in x and z, while y was handled by a paper-mover. I don't know if there's anything like it out there today. They were pricey in the late '80s.

Poking around a bit, I can find a ref to them being used for PCB


  • \$\begingroup\$ Sweet, I Have one of those lying around in the closet with nothing to use it for, great link. \$\endgroup\$
    – crasic
    Aug 10 '13 at 1:27

Screenprinting, if you're not doing tiny runs - there are loads of instructables to get you started. Other than that, you might want to try a conductive (usually silver ink) pen. If you're dead set on printing rather than hand-drawing, some kind of stenciling is probably your only option. It might be possible to modify an inkjet or laser cartridge to use conductive ink or toner, but it would be difficult.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What about this? alibaba.com/product-gs/733299277/… \$\endgroup\$
    – j03m
    Aug 9 '13 at 22:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @j03m: If that's actually conductive ink, that should work great! \$\endgroup\$
    – Trebawa
    Aug 10 '13 at 19:03

One option for plotting would be to use the Makeblock XY plotter, designed to be used with a pen of your choice. http://store.makeblock.com/xy-plotter-robot-kit Although their customer support is ltd...and the setup buggy from what we have experienced.

But there are many instructables for building XY plotters DIY style. E.g. http://www.instructables.com/id/CNC-Arduino-GRBL-Easydriver-Shield/

Or adding attachments to CNC machines....

Or hacking inkjets http://www.instructables.com/id/Print-Conductive-Circuits-With-An-Inkjet-Printer/


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