The Circuit Scribe is Pen that Draws Circuits on AnythingGadgets & Gizmos
The Circuit Scribe is Pen that Draws Circuits on Anything
Building circuit boards, robotics, computers, and automated processes using circuit boards is a popular hobby for inventors and tinkerers alike, and the Circuit Scribe pen is something that can make it a lot easier. Circuit Scribe is a pen that writes using conductive silver nitrate. But, how does the pen work?
The Circuit Scribe
The Circuit Scribe was conceived in 2012, where it was launched on Kickstarter, and eventually raised $674,425 of an $85,000 fundraising goal. The initial pens were slightly different, but the basic technology remains the same.
The pen contains an ‘ink’ core made of a liquefied silver nitrate, which works similarly to writing with normal ink. It remains in liquid form inside of the pen, but once on the paper, solidifies quickly as the homogenizing elements dry out. The ink draws in 0.6 mm traces, and can be used to create a variety of different types of circuits including but not limited to power circuits, input-output, connectors, soldering, and any number of small circuits and connectors on paper or other material.
In our own tests, the pen was slightly less conductive than described in the video, but still works, and better with thin lines. You also want to watch the electrical resistance of the material you are scribing on, as highly resistant materials will reduce conductivity.
The Resistor Pen
The same company also has a resistor pen, starting from $13.99, allowing you to draw in resistors rather than inserting them. These pens are available in 100Ω-100kΩ ohms, allowing you to draw in the resistance needed.
What Can You Do With It?
If you don’t really build things, then not much. If you do build things, then you probably already have plenty of ideas on your own. However, the Circuit Scribe is relatively low cost, and could be a great way to introduce kids to circuitry, create fun science projects to get kids (or adults) interested in STEM, and create prototypes to quickly test them to see if they work.
Plus, pens allow you to scribe one dimensional circuit boards. You can add layers with thin materials, but you can’t stack circuits like you can on a circuit board, so it’s not something you want to use to create for use computer circuits. Essentially, as cool as these pens are, they are better off for hobby and prototyping, simply because they don’t have the versatility to handle multi-layer circuits. You can, however, create simple Arduino designs, and have a lot of fun with it instead.
Circuit Scribe has plenty of kits, tutorials, and layouts for you to try, including basic turn on a light kits, build your own Arduino board, and much more. However, it’s not for repairing or working with real electronics, it is, in essence, a toy.
It’s also hard to forget that you can actually do something similar with graphite if you make the lines thick enough (common pencil), and you can make your own conductive ink very cheaply yourself as well.
The Circuit Scribe pen is available for $19.99 on the Circuit Scribe website. You can get the resistance pens for as little as $13.99 when they are in stock. You can also plan to use non-absorbent photo paper to prolong the life of your pen, as you can draw up to 200 meters of circuits on a non-absorbent surface.