Circuit Scribe is a pen that uses conductive ink to make creating circuits as easy as doodling. The technology was originally developed in an academic setting, but after the researchers published a paper in Advanced Materials in 2011, they received many requests to commercialize the pen for educational and personal use. They have since founded Electroninks Incorporated, a company that is now headquartered in Boston, with manufacturing in Texas. To move beyond the prototype, the team raised $674, 425 from more than 12,000 backers in a Kickstarter campaign that ended on January 1, 2014. The kits are now for sale on the company’s website, with single conductive ink pens that draw 60 to 80 meters selling for $19.99 each.
The rollerball pen uses non-toxic silver conductive ink to build circuits with basic electronic components. The ink’s conductivity is 3 ohms per cm on standard copy paper and 0.5 ohms per cm on photo paper. The pen eliminates the need for cumbersome breadboards and wires and makes circuits intuitive and accessible for students and makers of all ages. Flexible electronics allow users to draw circuits on paper and then cut them out to be used in inventions ranging from LED-lit greeting cards to homemade robots. Beginners can build a simple circuit with inexpensive components such as a coin battery, paper clip, and LED, or advanced users can build out complex circuits with multiple components. The company encourages tinkers and sharing information, with open-source hardware and free downloads of its workbook online. This low-tech tool can be used in schools or at home to inspire kids and makers of all ages to have fun with STEM education.