Conductive Ink?

I know you can buy conductive pens with silver ink for doing small electronic work but has anyone ever seen/made/used conductive ink for printing? I’m sure its out there but I haven’t found a place to buy it commercially in a useful quantity yet.

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Here is a link to a gentleman who DIY’d his own conductive ink. As always with such projects do not attempt this if you unsure of how to do it.

This is a very common application for screenprinting.

In many industrial processes circuits are printed, it is much faster than etching circuitboards and a lot less toxic.

Another common application of screenprinting with conductive ink is making membrane switches for water-proof equipment (wikipedia has some details on this process).

From what I’ve heard from people who have done it, and seen around commercial shops, the conductive inks can be very, very expensive, though a relief printing process generally uses a lot less ink than screenprinting. Not sure about the consistency of these products, but I doubt any of the screen-formulated inks will work on a letterpress.

Perhaps some company sells the conductive powder on its own, that can then be mixed with a carrier that would work on letterpress? I would research screen-ink manufacturers, call them and ask if they have ever heard of such a process.


Are you trying to provide a long-term solution or something which will be used only temporarily? If the latter, you oculd use one of the metallic powders (aluminum & bronze) which are dusted on a wet ink surface. These should have fair conductivity, but will oxidize within weeks and may lose their conductivity with time.

The silver-based screen printing inks are quite expensive, but still less expensive than etching copper for flexible circuit work.

One technique which was used in kids books and games at one time was using an aluminum foil base with die-cut paper laminated to it to provide selective access to the aluminum strips.

I saw this on our google alert, and i wanted to see if you had heard of our conductive paint.

I apologise for the shameless promotion but i thought you might find it useful. We’ve had our business cards and some other things screen printed and it works really well, and does not oxidise as it is carbon based.

We sell it in 50ml pots and 10ml pens (but can supply in larger quantities if required).
Check it out and get in touch of you have any questions.

Here is an example of someone using it for screen-printing fliers.

Great stuff! I came across the jordonbunker site and a couple other DIY sites and am tempted to try that but for now I think I’m leaning towards buying for a trial run. I have a small amount of aluminum powder and acetate on its way anyway. I took part in a workshop a long time ago where we screen printed some basic circuits and something popped the idea back in my head. Right now I doubt I’ll try printing it on any of our letterpress’s, probably start out with a small woodcut.

Bare Conductive: Probably one of the coolest sites I’ve seen in a long time, just the kind of stuff I’ve been toying with here. The ink suspended in oil lamps with the antique squirrel cage bulbs are fantastic! Your tutorials are good too, and way to go for including links to the components. I was trying to think of a way to connect an arduino to the paper circuits myself, paperclips did cross my mind.

I work for a large software company and we are starting up an electronics/maker club. Those are just the kind of projects that will help break the ice with the people that have limited exposure to electronics.

Bare Conductive may be self-promoting, but justified; their info should help start towards solution.

Some automobiles have a heater painted onto the rear window, made of narrow resistive tracks to evaporate fog/mist; the pencil for repair of broken track is expensive, but an electrical engineer has used it to repair broken connectors on sensor connectors without taking the [industrial] plant out of action ($Aus80,000 an hour).

Any electronics person would like to know the specific resistance of the track which can be produced by Bare Conductive; there is talk of experiments to [letterpress] print onto plastic film for the solar panels used to produce electricity from solar energy, which will be much cheaper than the present film onto glass used in many places in Australia. Are solar electricity panels being promoted in USA? especially in remote locations.

Briar Press looks like a forum which could discuss this kind of experiment to result in something useful, though of a niche nature. But perhaps letterpress experts will be in demand if the solar film method proves successful?