Plus it’s real easy to do, and requires few exotic materials!
The goal here is to open up an amazing material, Silicone, that is becoming more and more accessible to the DIY community to the wonderful possibilities of electronics. DIY Conductive materials (conductive thread, paint, glue, fabric) have let craftspeople incorporate electronics in their project in uncountable fun ways. In the way that soft circuits let makers explore digital technology while utilizing the amazing properties of textiles, I think silicone circuits (silc circuits) have the potential to open another arena of physical-digital crafting in sculpture, wearables, prosthetics, toymaking, and special effects.
For those who want to get right to it, here’s the basic recipe, and I’ll go into lots more details about this in the later steps (including materials, suggestions, and project ideas). It’s pretty simple, you just need the right materials, and the right process. With this method you can utilize many of the properties of high performance silicone, and create shapes and designs both thick and thin.
(Contributed to the Public Domain 2015)
Mix Chopped Carbon Fiber (under 6mm lengths) with a bit of rubbing alcohol (to break it up)
Let mostly dry
Whip together the Carbon Fibers with the Part A of the silicone
Add Part B, and mold it!
Example Projects Described
Anemone Touch Sensors
Rubber Finger Mold Styluses
Conductive Rubber Film
Cap-Touch Quiz Games
What’s awesome about Silicone?
Silicone is an incredible (but sometimes frustrating material) with many amazing properties that highly compliment many problems with the way people usually do electronics with metal:
Waterproof: Your circuits can be inherently weatherproofed. Leave them in the jungle! Bring them into the ocean!
Durable: Can stand up to large impacts! Make toys for pets to toss and smash!
Flexible: Can be worn on the body, stretched, played with.
Translucent: Which lets you add colorings that respond to heat, light, or electricity to change colors or glow!
Body-Safe: Silicone is pretty inert and non-toxic. It’s like rubbery glass. There’s a reason they use it for food trays and sex toys. Also no horrid fumes when you mix it! You can mix it in your weird basement!
Mold-Able: Unlimited shapes and sizes and textures. That’s why the best movie props and halloween masks are made from it
Grippy: You can stab things into it (like wires!) and they will stick, and be held in place!
Insulative: Stops electrical shorts (unless of course you make it conductive!)
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This reminds me of some experiments I conducted with electroactive polymers back in the early 00s. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroactive_polymers turns out you can get mechanical actuation with thin films of this and high voltage electrostatic charges. A bit tricky to mix that last bit with digital electronics at 5v but not remotely impossible.