Marker pen enables you to draw an electric circuit

26th July 2016
Anna Flockett

Creating electrical circuits doesn’t have to be a job for engineers any longer, as a pen has been created that allows you to turn your standard doodles into a fully functioning electrical circuit, from what feels like an ordinary market pen. A simple silver marker, using conductive properties of silver found in the ink, enables you draw your own circuits on specialised paper, without any wires or connectors, and importantly no mess.

AgIC is a Japanese company, located in Tokyo which is the founder of the ‘AgIC Erasable Circuit Marker’, which consists of two pens: the Circuit Marker, and the Circuit Eraser, which was a Kick-starter campaign that was funded back in January 2015. 

The chemical name for silver, Ag, is combined with the initials IC- representing, ‘Ink Circuit’ to create the company name AgIC, with their aim of ‘making electric circuits more accessible to people of all ages and levels of experience.’

This marker offers practically limitless potential for exploring and making circuits, meaning that children are able to learn as they play and there is room for mistakes without having to re-start again every time.  It also allows engineers to visualise and execute ideas, creating endless prototypes of all kinds.

AgIC explained that one of their most requested features is the ability to fix or edit circuits that are created, as a lot of conductive ink products cannot be easily edited. If a short circuit or design error needs to be corrected users will most often have to start again, yet with its Circuit Eraser it’s easy to make changes enabling ‘trial and error’ ability.

One AgIC Circuit Eraser tester commented: “I can now edit my circuits on the fly, which is both time-saving and amazing to use.”

Technical advisor of AgIC Yoshihiro (Yoshi) Kawahara, Microsoft Research Cambridge and Georgia Institute of Technology, developed innovative technology to print circuits, on their specialised paper using proprietary silver nanoparticle ink, using a regular inkjet printer. Kawahara and his team’s research paper was in fact the winner of the best paper award in Ubicomp 2013.

This allows you to make circuits exactly as you use a printer at home, and its characterised by the ability to print large sized electronic circuits, at a low cost which is a feature that’s proven difficult with conventional printed circuit boards.

The printer consists of two types of ink, #1000 for prototyping, and #2000 for products. The #1000 ink dries quickly and becomes conductive. It is designed for short-term use such as in schools and is printable with home inkjet printers. A maximum size of the #1000 is 1067mmx2m, with its minimum pattern with calculating at 0.2mm.

Yet the #2000 is more durable and has isheat-resistance for a longer-term use, for products up to ten years. Its maximum temperature is 120ºC and its maximum size is just 600mmx2m, but has a slightly higher minimum pattern at 0.3mm.

AgIC’s printed electronic solutions make electronics thin, light and large. Circuits have been developed for a range of applications such as flexible heaters, LED matrix boards, interactive toys and advertisements. The specialised paper weighs only 10g per A4 sheet and is only 0.1mm thin, and the company now advertise palm-size to wallpaper, which is available in sizes up to 1m wide.

Yuki Nishisa, co-founder and head of AgIC USA commented: “AgIC’s vision is to bring the fun of circuit design to everyone.”

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