Author Archives: cirquids

What kind of paper?

The choice of paper for building Cirquids

Working with the material paper offers the great possibility to take advantage of considering various kind of papers, that differ in their properties like thickness, fiber length or grammage. Also, the choice of paper will have an impact on how fast the conductive liquid (in my case salt water) will be spreading through the paper-trace.


While hygienic or toilet paper for example are designed to easily resolve when exposed to water, glossy paper for printing a photo for an Ink Jet printer  requires another absorbency towards the applied color. As demonstrated in this gif, dropping water onto a coated paper and a blotting paper, the differing capability of absorbing the liquid is demonstrated.

By taking advantage of paper’s microstructure of pressed cellulose fibers it can be used to contain a conductive liquids as well as it can absorb hydrophobic materials to turn the paper’s fibers partially into hydrophobic barriers for the conductive liquid. In this SEM-Images of a recycled paper you can clearly see the paper’s microstructures and single peaces of wax  melting together with the fibers.


Filter paper

Because I wanted a paper that absorbs a liquid rather fast, I focused on working with filtration paper in most of my projects. This kind of paper provides a high filtration speed per second and is specifically made out of cellulose fiber without adding any additives to it. It serves the purpose of efficiency absorbing liquids, without loosen up it’s fiber’s structure, like a hygienic paper would do.

Still ii is important to choose the suitable filtration paper type to produce the desired Cirquid. Aspects like the papers grammages, color or filtration speed will define and influence the outcome. Fortunately companies offer a data-sheet, where you can check the papers qualities. As this kind of paper classically comes in a round shape for laboratory purposes, I had to contact the producer and asked for paper samples with an A4 format. This way it was easier to feed the wax printer with the special paper.



<< back
share content on:
Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn

What kind of wax printing?

The choice of wax printing

By printing wax onto the paper’s surface and applying heat to it the wax is absorbed into the paper’s structure. All areas coated with wax become hydrophobic. The hereby created hydrophilic areas in the paper can be described as potential traces for the later added conductive liquid. While most printed circuit boards create fixed traces by creating permanently conductive trace-structures on a surface, my method creates traces by limiting and controlling the liquids spreading through the whole paper structure. This traces are only potentially and need to be activated by applying a conductive liquid. The created traces will only be temporary, as some conductive liquids – f.e. salt water – will vaporize slowly while being exposed to room temperature.


While testing the advantages of printable Cirquids in my bachelor thesis, I tried three different printing methods for applying the hydrophobic wax into the fiber structure of the paper:

· manual application via candle wax pen drawing
· wax screen printing
· Xerox Solid Ink printer

Which method to use mainly depends on the budget for creating Cirquids, the desired resolution of the cirquit board and the tools that you have available for this purpose.

I focused on using the Solid Ink printer most of the time, because this method makes it easy to produce a cirquit board with a higher resolution while the amount of extruded wax onto the paper can be regulated easily by the digitally created motive that will be printed in a certain CMYK value. Printing different lines with various stroke thicknesses and varied amount of CMYK values allowed me to test the minimal needed amount of wax to separate the paper into hydrophilic and hydrophobic areas.

Candle wax pen

Applying wax with a Pic Tixxs Kerzen Pen makes drawing Cirquids quite intuitive and allows a rapid manufacturing without the need of using a computer. The wax has a semi liquid consistency and can be directly applied in a drawing gesture onto the paper; it’s viscosity and the low resolution of the extruder requires a certain amount of practice to apply an even amount of wax onto the paper though. Using a stamp to draw much cleaner outline is one way to produce a straighter wax print.



When heading the printed paper the applied wax lines show a rather high expansion of the wax-print. Depending on the amount of wax, this expansion become even larger. On the picture you can see a wax-print before (left) and after (right) applying heat to it.


I used this method rarely, because I liked to focus on precise and reproducible wax-prints. But for applying wax onto a previously folded paper structure for example, the wax pen method was the best choice. I even used a white-colored Pen to make the wax-print as hidden as possible. You can see the created paper device in another post.


Screen printing

Another approach was using the wax of the wax Pen for screen printing. By using a exposure unit. This method made it possible to create a more complex wax-printing via software and copy it to the screen printing foil. Still, applying the wax manually via squeegee made this method a bit tricky, especially if you have never done screen printing before (like me). All in all for printing out different Cirquid-wax-prints this method could not convince me completely.





Xerox Solid Ink printer

The most suitable method for my bachelor thesis was using a solid ink printer for around 350€. It allowed me to print out various wax-printings pretty handy and quickly. And by using the printing-software I could adjust the amount of applied wax easily. A solid ink printer basically uses a similar principle of an inkjet printer but uses the wax of a solid ink stick. (shown in the picture below)




If it is not possible to receive A4 sheets, using sensitive paper-tape or transparent tape to temporarily fixing the paper on a regular A4 sheet is also possible. However this can cause minor problems, like tape or the round filter paper getting loose while the printing process.
printproblemfoldingAlso printing a wax motive more then two times onto the same area caused the supreme layer of way to flake off. print_broken

One main advantage of using a wax printer is the ability to reproduce precise wax printings while the amount of printed wax can be regulated by the printed color depending on their CMYK values, thickness of the printed strokes or transparency. Fine patterns or round shapes can be printed and defined via digital software easily.


Heating up the wax 

As the wax print will only cover the surface of the sheet of paper it is necessary to let the wax spread through the depth of the paper. Therefor the paper needs to be exposed with heat. This can be done in different ways, for example by leaving it on a heating plate or using the heat produced by a lamination machine.

<< back
share content on:
Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn

What kind of Liquid?

While most self-printed, lowtech paper circuits-boards are built by using copper tape, beatgold or silver-based ink, Cirquids uses basic-ingredients like Salt and water to create a conductive path within the paper’s structure.


Conductive ink & salt water

By applying a suspension based on conductive ink and water onto a printed Cirquid, a remaining conductive paths can be define within the paper. Compared to the common method of brushing conductive ink onto a paper’s surface, the via wax defined barriers allow drawing more accurate circuits onto the paper, which further more remain within the paper’s fibers instead of only being drawn onto it’s surface.


Salt water

In my bachelor thesis I found it more promising, more unique and challanging to work with another kind of solution to turn the paper-based conductive paths into a conductive status. Also the combination of electronics and water – which is more likely to be avoided – was tempting and offered the possibility to explore some unique ways of combining them in a useful ways.


By applying suspension based on salt and water liquid circuits can be created. Thus using the rather sustainable and metal-free materials, a fluid state of being conductive can be evoked within the paper.

By comapring them to common paper-based circuits, they offer additional values:

  • conductive traces are only temporary existing
  • thus makes it possible to activate and re-activate the Cirquits at a further date
  • they show a fuzzy state of being conductive, as the water componends will evaporate
  • contamination with (salt) water can initiate or trigger an operation
  • their resistance will increase due to the vaporization process
  • the conductive path is rather invisible (compared to other methods f.e. conductive ink)
  • three-dimensional pathways can be built as the liquid is absorbed within the paper’s fibers


Immortal Circuits

Another fascination phenomena occurred, when the Cirquid remained dry again. As the water components has vaporized, the salt remained on the paper’s surfaces, leaving a salty trace behind. Thus giving the paper a little sparkling effect and giving the possibility to apply pure water for activation the Cirquid once more. This time, the remaining salt will be dissolve and turn the usually non-conductive water into a conductive liquid.


one-way electronics and colorful traces

If electronic is or has been attached to a Cirquid and more than 5 volt has been connected to it, another colorful effect can occur. Due to oxidation and other chemical reactions the combination of salt, water, current flow and metal-based pins will leave characteristic traces within the paper.

attiny_marks attinydirt marks2

Especially while thinking about the huge amount of produced electronics and the shortened life-circle of many electronically devices, coming up with one-way products that are mainly build out of paper and will disintegrate after a certain amount of time, fluid circuit board that have been produce with the Cirquid method can be one way to archive such products.

Colored liquid for 3D circuit stcutures

For testing three-dimensional structures colored liquid can be used to increase the visibility of the liquids journey through the folded paper structure.


<< back
share content on:
Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn

implimenting electronics

Cirquids can be used in various ways: they can be transformed into an touch-sensitive area or connect implemented electronics, that has been plugged into the paper. The following blog entries will demonstrate different papiercircuits. In general I successfully applied following electronic devices into the paper, using different methodes of connection the paper cirquids to these electronics:

  • LEDs
  • resistors & photoresistor
  • Arduino Uno board
  • Attiny85 Microprocessor
  • shape memory alloy
  • speakers
  • ventialators


If the cable connection between the paper circuit board and the attached electronics should be more hidden the paper can be combined with a clipboard-like device can be used.  This makes it possible to change the circuit shapes easily by changing the clipped in paper – the connected electronic will stay at it’s previous position. The clipboard-like device also compensates the possibility of losing a connection between the electronic and the paper-circuit in case a rather thin kind of paper has been used.

clipindevice01 clipindevice02 clipindevice03

Lamination for protection

To increase the stability, hinder the saltwater to spread onto other surfaces and to prevent the Cirquids from external damage the sheet of paper can be laminated. By doing so the absorbed liquid within the paper will be shield from the process of vaporizing – thus causing the Cirquid to show a longer lifespan in terms of being conductive and thus aktive as an existent as a circuit.

Playful interaction

By using daily tools like a pin or a scissors various rather intuitive interaction with the printed circuit boards can be created. Single conductive traces can be easily connected with pins to create a temporary flow of electricity through the conductive paper paths. Also, a scissor can be used to manipulate or damage the paper circuits.

pinin0 pinin1 pinin2cutting02 cutting03cutit

Common paper-elements like stapler braces, paperclips or pins can be used to create an interaction with a strong already familiar interaction with a sheet of paper. Using a turning paper pin for example can create a playful replacement of a conventional on- and off turn knob and communicate the mixture of paper and electronics in the created device.


Bending one LED-Pin around a stapler brace that is stuck into the paper or soldering a SMD LED pin directly to the stapler brace can be another way of connecting electronics to the paper. By connection the voltage to the stapled sheet of paper and bending the unattached pin of the LED upwards flowing of current through the wet paper can be established, if another sheet of paper, that is connected to the ground of the energy source, comes in contact with the bended pin.


For preventing unwanted contact between two layers of paper that are connected to different current pols a non-conductive layer can be applied. For example by using  a layer of transparent tape or by laminiating and thus seperationg both paper layers with foil.

If a SMD LED is attached to a laminiated Cirquid with oneof it’s wires, it can be connected to another paper Cirquid by simply placing it’s oposite pin directly on top of the Cirquids surface. By laminating the two layers of paper again, the SMD LEDs pin is pressed against the cirquid path and the connection is stabalized and protected from externam damage.


An easier method to implement LEDs  is to use bigger LEDs, that can be plugged into the Cirquids directly. Compared with other methods to build customiezed circuits boards for a LED Matrix, this method offers an easier way, as explained in one of the following posts.


For comparism a solded 4×4 LED Matrix PCB (back and front side). Image taken and edited from:



Reducing the needed Contact points

The proper choice of electronic has to be considered during the manufactoring process as well. While using an Attiny85 microprocessor the number of needed connection points varies, according to the purpose of the printed Cirqzud. In this example I tried to reduce this number by replacing the LED with another kind of LEDs. The picture shows the reduction from 9 to only 4 needed connection points between the paper and all added electronics.


It would be interesting to combine printed lightsources (e.g. an OLED or electro luminiszens panel) into a cirquid board. Unfortunatly I couldn’t run some tests with such materials, as my time during the bachelor thesis was limited.

<< back
share content on:
Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn

touch Surfaces

A conductive path that has been printed onto a surface can be modified to serve as a touch-sensor by connecting it to a micro controller board or Microcontroller (e.g. an Arduino Uno Board or Attiny85 microcontroller). For more details: Arduino Playgroud Tutorial.

Due to a change of the measured capacity when there is a nearby finger or another human body part will be detected and this changing can be an used to trigger a programmed operations. In my explorations I mainly used a LED or an acoustic signal as an exemplary output for a detected touch.


Multi-touch pad

Creating different touch-sensitive areas, the paper can be devided in several touch-sensitive areas. Thus allowing to rapidly build a keyboard-like input.

pad01 pad02 pad03 pad04

Video with sound:


<< back
share content on:
Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn



As flexible electronics can suffer from a loss of haptic qualities or feedback while interaction with them, building cheap paper-based prototypes can be a great way to explore the haptic sensations. A folded, stuck and bended paper surface for example can be modified to serve as an input device, as a button.

diecut haptics01 haptics02

For building such self-supporting structures the choice of paper and the used shape must be developed and improved further on by actively experiencing them. Only by finding the right positioning for the small cuts to stuck the two layers of paper together, the structure will feature enough stability to pull up it’s roundish area.

By testing different stack positions the structure’s properties can be changes: f. eg. the degree of bending and twisting of the rather thin lines that lift and hold up the roundish area can be defined. But also the amount of pressure, that roundish area can tolerate can be increased, thus the haptic sensation while pushing onto the roundish area with the fingertip changes due to the mentioned position.

toomuchbending toomuchbending2

While working with paper, the effect of different ways of folding on a specific paper structure can be explored in an intuitive, quick and cheap way. Multilayered structures can be explored for designing and experiencing more complex shaped interfaces.

cuttedandfolded2 layered

Using tools, like a lasercutter, can enhance the working process. Many shape-variations can be realized without consuming too much time. But purely working with a sheet of paper and a pair of scissors can stimulate the design process as well, because the workflow is not interrupted by the usage of any pc software and machines.


The created form can be used as an input device and serve as a flexible or bendable interface, that provides a certain haptic sensation.


<< back
share content on:
Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn

problem of adapting common shapes

Shaping new electronics

While the Formsprache of an electronic element is mainly dominated by mechanical and physical principles for the regulating a current flow within the circuits, the technology of printing circuits onto flexible and bendable surfaces opens up advanced possibilities and new varieties. If you look at some paper-based circuit tutorials on the internet, you will find built paper-based electronics that basically adapted the common principles and forms of an electroincal element such as a button or potentiometer.

But when designing  flexible electronical device adapting the shape of an electronic element is not necessarily a wise design dicision to make. The following example will illustrating this problem

A metal- and plastic-based sliding potentiometer for examples has it’s given form due to the accurring current change when it’s contacting wiper’s position changes.(more details)


Of course it is possible to build a paper-based potentiometer, that adapts this principal.

But while the common sliding-potentiometer takes advantage of the metal-based sliding-element’s sliding motion to regulate the current flow, the produces friction between the potentiometers elements does not cause any damage to the potentiometer.  The paper-based version on the other hand shows a clear lack of efficiency, as the swiping mechanism is permanently damaging the paper’s structure.


The following post will show a more appropriate way to built a paper-based potentiometer that uses the quality of paper as a material and the liquid-status of a Cirquid.

<< back
share content on:
Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn

squeez potentiometer

Als illustrated  in the previous post, adapting common shapes of metal-based electronics may not necessarily be the best choice while designing flexible electroincs and lacks a certain consideration and reflection on the material’s specific qualities.

Alternativly, by considering the materialibility of a paper-based potentiometer, a new shape can be developed, that offers another form of interaction with this device: Instead of the typical knob movement the user can regulate the resistence of the potentiometer by squeezing it’s kinetic paper structure.


Altering the Formsprache of electronics

Advanced manufacturing technologies can lead to a new way of shaping an object. The size of a mobile phones tended to decrease. The size of mobile phones for example decreased due to the possibility of integrating smaller batteries and electronics. For example Reducing the size and weight of a camera by using a shape-memory allows instead of the rather heavy and big electro-moter to adjust and move it’s lens position.  A change of materials can definitely alter the shape of an electronic device or product. *

Thus a flexible, bendable or even foldable circuit board will enlarge the variety of producable electronical devices. Therefore Cirquid has a great potential to built varous prototypes for exploring new shapes and interaction forms for flexible circuits. It can be used for rapid prototyp purposes while there is no need for using metal based material or complex working steps.

<< back

** Of course, an improvement of technology does not always have to be a benefit for the product. The absense of a washing mashine’s typical humming sound f.e. is claimed to cause the user to worry, if the mashine is really switched on or is mail-functioning, because the anticipated iconic sound working.  Therefor using advanced motors, that no longer cause this sound as a byproduct has to be considered.

share content on:
Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn

3D circuits

Transforming a 2D cirquids into 3D structure

As paper holds the potential to expand from a flat surface into a three-dimensional structure, imprinted circuits within the paper’s structure will go through the same transformation process, assuming their materiality allows this physical alteration.


While conductive paths made out of copper tape are located on only one side of the paper, the process of folding the paper can cause a lack of connection between these conductive paths. Of course this can be an wanted or unwanted effect. Also a via conductive ink drawn line on a paper can experience certain damages or can even break, if the paper structure get altered due to folding processes or applied pressure.

The Cirquid method on the other hand uses the papers ability to absorb a conductive liquid within the paper’s structure. Therefore the path is located on both sides of the paper. Hereby the conductive paths is protected from external damaging and can easily comply to the deformation of the paper. Of course the papers thickness and structure must be chosen carefully: the areas that are contaminated with saltwater will show certain instability that could cause partial rips within the paper’s structure.

As the Yu Chui Group of Standford demonstrated in one of their papers,the large capillarity force of paper is one of it’s advantages to use it as a substrat for printed electronics. Compared to a plastic-based substrat, it’s ability to absorb a liquid makes the process of printing and binding the conductive material onto the surface easier and can reduces the risk of damaging the conductive path.

Building 3D touch-sensitive strucures and surfaces

For Designers and engineers Cirquids can be a useful tool for rapidly building aper prototypes of a product with touch-sensitive areas or surfaces. There is no need of generating complex origami-like folding-grids – the paper can simply be wrapped around a surface or object and become touch-sensitive.
This way, various criteria for designing the touch-sensitive device can be explored and tested by building cheap paper-based prototypes to experience important variations of it’s form or the positioning of touch-sensitive areas on the object, so the user can reach them in a reasonable and comfortable way.

Soaking the entire imprinted paper with saltwater it becomes more flexible and sleek and can be wrapped and fixiated around an object. After the paper remains dry again, it has adapted the object’s shape and the imprinted Cirquids built a three-dimensional structure along the object’s surface.

forming1 forming2forming3 forming4touch1


Transformation process

By comparing the previously shown multi-touch Pad towards the created 3D structure illustrates the  transformation from a two-dimensional to a three-dimensional Circuit. Rather complex and unusual surfaces can be manufactured and tested. Also the aesthetics of a crumpled-up paper can be adapted – simply for the appearance of the device or to equip the object with the affordance of being crumpled by the user.


<< back
share content on:
Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn

light sensitive paper

It is also possivle to combe copper tape and saltwater to create functioning circuit paths. I tested out this method by building a circuit board that has an photoresistor integrated. Thus the buil paper device can react towards light changing within it’s environment. The LED again serves as an examplary, triggered reaction when a reduction of light is detected. Here a sketch taken from how the circuit would look like if you use primarily metal-based materials like a breadboard and jump wires.

Instead of using a breadboard and jumping wires, copper tape can be stuck to the paper’s surface to connect the arduino board’s connection pins and all needed elements for the circuit. As the copper tape has one sticky side, the resistor, LED and photoresistor can be fixed onto the copper-based paths. Also the connection tends to disturbed sometimes, as the folded copper material tends to change it’s position and  therefore loses a touching point with the electronics pin.
Never the less – the connection between the A0 pin and the photoresitor pin is not established by a stripe of copper tape. Once the paper in between gets wet with saltwater, the whole circuit is closed and working.

photoresi_dry    photoresi_wetphotoresistor


Of course the whole circuits can be realized without any copper tape by simply using Cirquids. But you might consider one thing I learned during realizing this circuit board: Due to resistence loss caused by the paper’s properties, it might be necessary to attache the integrated electronics to each other to provide enought current flow (as only 5V were attached to the circuits).

Here is a picture of the unsuccessful, first version. As you can see the LED is barely lightning up.


Here is the improved version, finally the circuit works with applying only 5 volt.


share content on:
Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn

Integrating Microcontroller

By integrating a microprocessor into the paper the amount of needed cables and hardware can be reduced. To achieve a stable connection it can be necessary to add an extra layer of cardboard to fixate the microprocessors pins. Lamination the paper before plugging the microprocessor into the paper.


Bending the LEDs pin around the microprocessor’s pin or wrapping SMD-LED cables around it can help avoiding unwanted disconnection between an LED and the microprocessor.


Due to chemical reactions the combination of metal-base pins, salt water and a current higher than 5 volt can lead to a pollution next to the connections points between paper and microprocessor.


<< back

share content on:
Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn

bendable Displays

Integrating LEDs into the paper can be an effective method to built a paper-based prototype that mimicries an OLED printed surface. Also building a lowtech Display that uses a higher amount of LEDs can be realized easily with the Cirquid method.

One way to imitate a OLED surface on the paper is to use a  SMD-LED that has two isolated cables connected to it’s annode and kathode. Simply ba printing two seperate  Cirquids onto the papaer and pinning the cabel’s ends through them. For making sure that the position of the SMD-LED and it’s connection with the Cirquids is secured, the paper and the thin LED has been placed between a regular lamination foil and was laminated. Due to the maximal thickness of the lamination machine, this method only works with rather thin LEDs.


Also hiding a SMD-LED behind a printed Circuit can give the illusion of an upglowing paper-surface or OLED print on the paper’s surface.


LED Display

For building a LED Matrix that serves as a Display, the LEDs can be pinned into the printed Cirquids directly. The layout of the printed PCB has to be considered carefully to avoid unwanted connections between connected electricity.


By using a two-layered PCB Layout and seperating unavoidable touch-points between these layers, transparent tape can be used. Also the layers have been laminated separately and have been laminated one more time after they have been put on top of each other. Here you can see the PCB Layout and the position of the LEDs without the lamination process.


And another picture of the laminated version of the Paper PCB’s front- and backside.


Because the paper has been laminated, the saltwater’s evaporation is slowed. Because of this the display stays active for more than one hour without applying any additional saltwater. The connection between the paper and the LED-Pins stays stable, even when the PCB gets deformed.


By unsing charlieplexing technique a Arduino Uno board can control current flow within the printed circuits to individually regulate the light of each LED within the matrix.

SMD Display

Integrating many SMD-LEDs into a 3 x 3 grid display is another interesting approach, but be aware that it can become a fiddly work and requires some patience. It can be helpful to pin only one cable of the SMD-LED into the paper and let the facing LED-Pin be placed directly on the paper’s surface.

smdledmatrix2 smdledmatrix1

<< back

share content on:
Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn

inflaming light

Glimming output

In this demonstrator for the potential of printing Cirquids on paper a structure with two collateral conductive paths built to regulating the power supply of an integrated LED. The device serves as a wind or vibration sensor and serves an interesting interaction form which holds a rich metaphor: by softly blowing into the device, the LEDs is flickering and glimming up. This evokes the association of inflaming a fire or breating life into a lifeless object.

Simultaniously  the soft shaking of the paper structure itself gives the user a visual feedback about having received his or her input – the blown air. Another charming fact is the low amount of electronics and material taht is required to build such a device.


<< back

share content on:
Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn

time-based circuits

Compared to common circuit boards that are using solid and static materials, a fluid-based Cirquid offers the great advantage of being changeable in the form of it’s conductive paths. Thus making the circuit-shape programmable, variable and more flexible.  This is possible because the potential paths have been defined via wax printing within the paper during the printing process. But only after being enriched with a conductive liquid, the potential path is established until it remains dry again.

Which means the layout of all activated/wet Cirquids is programmable, variable and can be changed each time you activate a Cirquid by applying salt water.

Beside this programmability, timing and rhytems can be defined by a Cirquid. As the needed period of time for a liquid to spread through certain areas of the paper or reach implemented electronics can be defined by the Cirquid’s layout.


The shape of a printed Cirquid can be used to controle a certain period of time that needs to take place before an effect or operation will begin. Also the temporary aspect of saltwater-based circuits can be enhance and stressed out by this method further on.


The changing of a wet and dry status within the paper can be used to create fuzzy rhythm in the current flowing throughout the paper.

<< back

share content on:
Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn

moving structures

If a printed and dry cirquid gets contaminated with saltwater, a reaction can be triggered. By attaching shape memory alloy material into a kinetic paper structure a movement within the object can actuate it’s deformation.


As mentioned before in other posts, paper as a material holds the great quality of being expandable and reducable, especially if it’s given shape and form supports such kinetic processes. In a few tests with shape memory wire I tested the effect of a spiral shaped wire with a paper structure that can be stuck together to a grid of elements that cause each other to move if one of it’s elements is equipped with an activated shape memory wire.



Unfoldable structures can be equipped with the selfmoving wire, but it must be considered that the kinetic forces coming from the wire, will force the paper structure is to expand on three axis, thus making the process of unfolding a structure a bit blurry, imprecisely and fussy. Various parameters, such as the given paper structur, the given fixiation points within this structure for the wire and the programmed shape within the shape memory alloy will define it’s movement.

unfolding3This way interesting material experiments with a focus on the materials behaviour towards external pressure can be realized.

share content on:
Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn

The fuzzyness of Cirquids

As mentioned, creating a certain rhytem for a programmed operation can be regulated by the shapes of the printed wax barriers. The materiality of the paper Cirquid plays an active role instead of just being a static element. Hereby the salt water, which is spreading through the paper’s fibers, hold an interesting semi-unpredictable character:a fuzzy condition can be observes, as the status of being wet and being dryed out again can be fluctuates a few times right before the status of being permanently dried out and therefore inactive or non-cunductive again.

I noticed this behaviour the first time when I controled the power supply of two ventilators. The current volt of the used energy source needed to bypass a small sheat of paper. While the paper was inriched with salt water, the connection was circuit was closed and the ventilators were running. Their air blast however quickens the paper’s dryingprocess.


As the paper became too dry to support the current flow from one connected paper clip to the other any longer, the system stopped. Which means the ventilators ran out of electricity and their blades were  slowly discontinueing their rotations. Simultaniously the typical sounds procudes by their rotation got more quiet, as their acceleration decreased.

Even though the ventilator’s energy supplies was disconnected because the paper seemed to be dryed out, the ventilator started blowing again with full power after a while. Just to stop working again after a few seconds.


Cirquid System
Considering the seen phenomenon, I arranged a system that underlines this aspect by regulating itself with the help of two ventilators and two peaces of paper (one imprinted with a cirquid).


  • 2  ventilators
  • 2 Paper-stripes, one with an imprinted cirquid
  • container with salt water
  • 1 laboratory power supply
  • hidden cables and paperclips


The rules

① System is inaktiv until ciquid A gets wet

② If cirquid A wet > ventilator A starts blowing > cirquid B starts moving, dips into saltwater


③ If cirquid B wet > ventilator B starts blowing > cirquid A drys out faster

④ If cirquid A dry again> ventilator A stops blowing > cirquid B stops touching the salt water

⑤  If cirquid B no touch with salt water> ventilator B stops blowing > System is inaktiv


⑥ System is inaktiv until ciquid A gets wet


<< back

share content on:
Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn