Researchers from Georgia Tech, the University of Tokyo, and Microsoft Research have developed a novel method to rapidly and cheaply make electrical circuits by printing them with commodity inkjet printers and off-the-shelf materials.

For about $300 in equipment costs, anyone can produce working electrical circuits in the 60 seconds it takes to print them.

“We believe there is an opportunity to introduce a new approach to the rapid prototyping of fully custom-printed circuits,” said Gregory Abowd, Regents’ Professor in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech and an investigator in the study. “Unlike existing methods for printing conductive patterns, conductivity in our technique emerges within a few seconds and without the need for special equipment.”

Recent advances in chemically bonding metal particles allowed the researchers to use silver nanoparticle ink to print the circuits and avoid thermal bonding, or sintering, a time-consuming and potentially damaging technique due to the heat.

Once printed, the circuits can be attached to electronic components using conductive double-sided tape or silver epoxy adhesive, allowing full-scale prototyping in mere hours. The homemade circuits may allow tinkerers to quickly prototype crude calculators, thermostat controls, battery chargers or any number of electronic devices.

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