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Paper circuits are becoming more and more popular in the hobby electronics world. The easy availability of craft-like materials and increasing abundance of new products has created a really unique ecosystem for crafters looking to make the leap to electronics projects. This guide is an overview of materials and techniques available to paper circuit crafters.

Pam Paper Circuit

What is a Paper Circuit?

A paper circuit is a functioning electronic circuit built on a paper surface instead of a PCB. Projects can range from greeting cards, to origami, to traditional art such as paintings or drawings. What makes them unique is the use of traditional fine art techniques to create a circuit that is combines aesthetics and functionality.

Suggested Reading

Before we begin crafting, here few concepts you should be familiar with:

Creating Traces: Overview

A trace is a path that takes the place of wiring, most commonly seen on a printed circuit board. In paper circuits we’ll use conductive materials as a substitute for wires on the paper’s surface to connect components. In this tutorial we’ll discuss three types of traces: paint, tape, and ink.

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The green lines on this PCB are the traces connecting parts of the board.

Conductive Tape Traces

Conductive tape is one of the easiest ways to get started crafting a paper circuit. Just peel off the paper backing and press down where you want your circuit to go! Copper tape is also solderable, allowing strong connections between components and traces that you won’t get with paint and inking methods.

Applying Copper Tape to a Paper Circuit