My regular readers will have noticed that I have been 'otherwise engaged' of late so I am catching up on the news items I may have missed. One that caught my eye on Southgate ARC News is a ScienceDaily report on a pen that can be used to create flexible electronic circuits. Apparently University of Illinois engineers have developed a silver-inked rollerball pen capable of writing electrical circuits and interconnects on paper, wood and other surfaces. The pen is writing whole new chapters in low-cost, flexible and disposable electronics.
Read the ScienceDaily report at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110628151632.htm
Now me being something of a cynic, a thing is of more interest if I can poke holes in it, so here I go...
You University of Illinois engineers are too late, it has been done before!
In the early 1980s I had a car, 1750cc a Hillman Hunter GLS. In fact over a number of years I had between seven and ten of them, or their equivalents the Sunbeam Rapier and Humber Sceptre. I never paid more than £100 each for them and used to keep all the best bits of the one I was scrapping to embellish the next. The first one I had, had a break in the rear heated window element and I bought a silver-inked fibre pen to repair it. By sticking two strips of tape aligned with the elements and drawing over the gap I was able to carry out an invisible repair to the heating element.
Later I did repairs on a Hi-Fi unit and reinstated burnt out tracks with the silver pen. A couple of CBs had a Ten Metre mod and where part of the new electronics joined the old circuit the pen came in useful again. Lastly I started experimenting with on glass antennas (on perspex actually) by using the pen and copper strip sticky tape. Later I used aluminium flashing tape to do the same. One time I even mad a loading coil by drawing a spiral thread on a plastic pop bottle. My two metre on glass J-pole worked a treat as did a 70cm quad out of the aluminium flashing tape, both real stealth antennas.
So once again University of Illinois engineers, been there, seen that and got the tee shirt. There is nothing new under the sun. One of these pens could be handy to have in your pocket in case you get attacked by vampires, but of course the real interest will not be in the pen but in a printer with their silver based ink.