Circuit Scribe Conductive Ink Pen
This is a rollerball pen that writes with conductive silver ink. It makes creating circuits as easy as doodling.
You can use a Circuit Scribe pen to draw lines on any simple piece of paper, then attach special electrical components (Circuit Scribe modules) on the drawn lines which allow the electrical current to run through the components. This replaces the use of breadboards and wires.
Use it on any surface a rollerball pen will write on. The Circuit Scribe pen can draw 60-200 meters depending on writing surface and speed. 60 meters is seen on absorbent surfaces similar to a napkin, and 200+ meters on photo paper. Photo paper also has other benefits: you can erase ink by scratching a trace away, and you also get the highest conductivity on this surface (<2 ohms/cm). Soldering to the ink is possible - but tricky - and greatly depends on paper/surface type and solder type.
Each Circuit Scribe pen is hand filled with a water-based, non-toxic, silver ink. The ink lasts approximately 196-260 feet worth of lines before running dry. The lifetime of the trace lines is still being determined; however, trace lines drawn three years ago still function according to Eletroniks Incorporated.
What's the conductivity of Circuit Scribe?
0.5 to 10 Ohms per cm, but depends on the type of surface you are writing on. We see about 3 ohms per cm on standard copy paper, and 0.5 ohms per cm on photopaper. The best paper type is Epson Ultra Premium Luster Photo paper which allows Circuit Scribe to dry very quickly, has the highest conductivity AND allows traces to be eraseable.
What's the difference between Circuit Scribe and a #2 Pencil?
Circuit Scribe is a LOT more conductive! You couldn't get enough power through graphite traces to power a Bi-LED or a motor. We've measured the resistance of pencil traces at 5 - 8 megaohms with a single pass, and 30-60 kiloohms with lots of pressing down and scribbling.
My pen doesn't look full, looks like it leaked, or just looks strange.
The conductive ink pen is very special as it contains around 20% pure silver and thus behaves very differently than a typical rollerball pen. The heavy silver particles tend to settle to the bottom of the pen after sitting for more than 24 hours, but will easily redisperse when shaken lightly, used for a few minutes, or simply carried in your pocket.
It is very common for there to look as though the ink level is only 1/5 full when settled, but the pens are shipped with 1.0 ml of ink. The indicator for the ink level is a white ball that starts just before the first "e" in electroninks. The clear matrix fluid is nearly index matched to the plastic so it may look like there is simply air in the pen instead of fluid.
If you have any doubt about the ink level, settling or state of the pen please send us a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will happily diagnose the problem.
What's the shelf life look like?
An unopened pen has a shelf life of about a year. Once it's opened the pen will write smooth for at least 6 months, after that it may dry out a bit, but you can wet the tip of the pen to get the ink flowing again.
How long are the traces conductive for?
We drew traces three years ago that still work today.
How much can I draw with a pen?
You can draw 60 to 80 meters (196 to 260 feet) of traces with a single pen.
Do you sell refills?
Nope, not right now! The cost of manufacturing a pen is mostly the conductive ink, so the plastic bodies are essentially disposable. We're planning on releasing our ink in different forms for consumers - markers, bottles - in the far future.
What paper can I use? Can I write on?
Circuit Scribe will write on anything that your everyday rollerball pen will. Regular printer paper, construction paper, cardstock, and photo paper all work - but have fun experiment with different mediums! For functional use, photo paper performs the best because the ink is able to form a continuous film on the smooth surface.
What's the maximum current?
The ink can support a maximum current of about 175 mA on standard copy paper. Higher currents cause joule heating and a subsequent drop in resistance due to sintering the particles (up to around 8x decrease in resistance if controlled). Currents exceeding 400 mA may break the trace on standard copy paper. High currents can be achieved with photo paper, near 800 mA.
What's the maximum voltage?
The maximum voltage depends on the distance of your ground and high voltage (HV) trace. You should also consider the distance the magnetic backing is to the paper (i.e. keep it well-insulated with multiple sheets of paper). We do not recommend using high voltages (above 36V) due to safety.