Circuit Scribe is an innovative rollerball pen that draws with conductive ink. This makes laying out and connecting electrical circuits as “easy as doodling,” as Electroninks, the makers of Circuit Scribe, say on their site. I was happy to discover that both Electroninks Co-Founder Jennifer Lewis and Director of Sales and Marketing Stephanie Page were available to answer some questions about Electroninks and Circuit Scribe for Not Impossible Now.

The Introduction of Circuit Scribe

The Electroninks Co-Founders; S. Brett Walker, Analisa Russo, Michael Bell, and Lewis, come from the Jennifer Lewis Research Group at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Page explained Circuit Scribe’s introduction from The Lewis Group:

“We developed our conductive ink pen as part of a research project but in order to get the pen into the hands of makers and teach basic circuitry to kids, we needed to create a consumer product. So, we spun off to create Electroninks and launched Circuit Scribe with funds from our successful 2013 Kickstarter campaign. Ever since then, we've been busy getting production inline and launching our website.” 

Lewis shared this reflection on Circuit Scribe’s evolution:

“This was the first time that we spun a technology out of my lab, i.e., translated it from the laboratory bench top into a commercial product. Our primary driver was to bring Circuit Scribe to the STEM community. We believe that being able to draw electronic circuits directly on paper with a roller ball pen filled with conductive ink — would offer a low cost, intuitive platform for students, makers, and artists. The reception to our product has been overwhelming.” 

Info. On Circuit Scribe

Circuit Scribe is available with a variety of interactive kits. Circuit Scribe’s conductivity ranges between 0.5 to 10 Ohms per cm, depending on the surface that you write on. It can write on any surface that a normal rollerball pen would write on but works best, and is even erasable, on Epson Ultra-Premium Luster Photo paper. The ink dries very quickly and can hold a max current of about 75 mA on copy paper or closer to 800 mA on photo paper. The pen lasts about a year when unopened and about six months open—though if it starts to dry out around this point it can be re-wet. One pen can draw up to 260 feet and Electroninks shares that they, “drew traces three years ago that still work today.”

Uses of Circuit Scribe

Circuit scribe has numerous possible creative applications and its kits come with many modules and accessories. Circuit Scribe can be used to connect batteries to input, output, or neutral modules and the kits, which are available in teacher bundles, can be used to explore many concepts in electronics, including conductivity and resistance, digital electronics and logic, current and voltage, series and parallel, and more. Electroninks has partnered with Autodesk so that we can all play with Circuit Scribe components online with Autodesk's 123D Circuits Simulator. Users can explore, share, and print each other’s schematics. 

Lewis explains that Circuit Scribe is “open source because our primary goal is to engage with our community and to advance STEM across the U.S. and beyond.” 

Here’s some feedback from Page on memorable Circuit Scribe uses and encounters:

“Some folks decided to design and develop a 16-bit processor utilizing transistors, logic gates, and memory chips! They designed the classic PONG game using our pen. I think if you asked each of us what we love about Circuit Scribe, it'd be a little different; for some of us it is the moment when a kid realizes they just turned on a LED by drawing their name or when a high school robotics student geeks out about the pen kits at a Maker Faire. For others, it is continually pushing how we as humans interact with electronics and how to make it more engaging and creative. As we grow, both of these aspects will always be at the heart of what we do at Circuit Scribe, along with the conductive ink pen, of course!” 

Page also shares that Circuit Scribe is “going to be in Marbles the Brainstore this holiday season! There are some other exciting DIY kits we are launching throughout next year as well!” When it comes to Circuit Scribe, Lewis would “love to see K-8 schools adopt this product as part of their science curriculum. It is such a simple, yet powerful hands-on learning tool.” I also asked her what else The Lewis Group was working on lately:

“My group is working on many topics, but the research that I am particularly excited about is our efforts on printing vascularized human tissues for drug testing, disease modeling, and tissue repair and regeneration.”

You can further explore the world of Circuit Scribe at electroninks.com and follow The Lewis Lab online

-Julia Travers