Turn the Corner with Circuit Scribe + Aluminum Foil + Glue Sticks

Tim ZieglerUsing Circuit Scribe

Image of house with electrical circuit lighting an LED

I’d been puzzling over this for a while now: There has to be an easy way to get Circuit Scribe ink to draw conductive lines between different sheets of paper, up and down and around corners.

It turns out there is! The same way our silver ink is conductive on a single sheet of paper, you can jump between sheets with tin foil to make collages and artistic creations and who-knows-what-else on multiple sheets. We’ll post some project tutorials on this soon, but first: To get a circuit to jump to another sheet, you need a couple supplies:

  • A glue stick
  • Aluminum foil

You can see the final result in this image – we have the electric current going from the battery through Circuit Scribe drawn traces that then turn the corner going upward onto the yellow house, and then back around to meet ground. (How did we get the LED to stick to the side of the house? Read on – all will be revealed.)

Image of house with electrical circuit lighting an LED

Turning corners

Cut and Glue Aluminum Foil Strips

As we all know (right?!), aluminum is a conductive metal. So cut a couple aluminum strips. Then glue-stick one side of each as it rests on a piece of paper (so your glue doesn’t wind up on your desk).

Here are pics of glue-sticking your aluminum foil, then placing it sticky side down on the two pieces of paper you want to bridge and smoothing it down with your finger. First you glue the bottom of the foil.

Two pieces of aluminum foil with glue on them

Resulting foil with glue

Next you smooth out the foil with your fingernail to get it glued nicely on the underside.

Glueing aluminum foil lead onto paper

Smush down from the top with your fingernail

Notice how the tin foil attaches glue-side-down on top of the conductive silver traces you’ve drawn with a Circuit Scribe pen (or if you’re not using a Circuit Scribe pen, same deal with copper tape or wire or whatever).

Paper house with circuits drawn in conductive ink

I was pretty sure this wasn’t going to work, because I expected an insulating layer of glue to prevent conductivity from the drawn silver traces up into the foil. But I suppose the smoothing out of the foil with your fingernail sort of squeegees enough glue out of the way on the underside to conduct current between the drawn silver line and the foil.

Getting Modules Magnetic on Vertical Surfaces

Another mini-revelation I had from doing this aluminum foil science project was to realize that you can make Circuit Scribe modules stick to vertical surfaces by using a paperclip as a magnetic anchor.

So you place a metal paperclip on one side of your vertical piece of paper, then clip the magnetic circuit module’s feet to it from the other side of the paper.

Circuit Scribe LED module with paperclip magnetically attached

 

As an aside, there is a product called Z Axis Conductive Tape made by 3M that is a sticky tape that will conduct current vertically (that is, through the thickness of the tape) but not horizontally down the length of the tape itself. However, it’s pretty expensive, and you probably already have aluminum foil and glue sticks on hand.

Now that we can see how to get Circuit Scribe current to jump sheets of paper or travel over, under, in, around, and through, let’s have fun inventing some activities! The next stop on my journey is going to be to make a “tunnel book.”

If you make something cool using aluminum foil electrical conductivity, please let us know by emailing hello@circuitscribe.com or posting it on Twitter or Facebook.