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.

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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.


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