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Conductive Paint Proves a Turn-on

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

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A new electrically conductive paint that acts as “liquid wiring” is lighting up interest across the coatings industry.

The student-developed product, called Bare Paint, can be used for signaling and powering, turning almost any surface into a functioning light. The paint act as a form of liquid wiring that can power speakers, LEDs, or whatever creative option one can conjure, developers say.

The inventors and founders of Bare Conductive Ltd. are Isabel Lizardi, Matt Johnson, Bibi Nelson and Becky Pilditch, postgraduate students from the Innovation Design Engineering Course at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London.

For their final project at RCA, the students were looking for something that could be painted onto the body, which eventually turned into their current product.

Bare Paint
Royal College of Art

"Our goal is to put interactivity onto objects you don't expect," inventor Matt Johnson said.

"We started this project in 2009. We were originally interested in trying to apply electronics to the skin," Johnson told CNN.

(Although safe to have around the body, it is not specifically approved for use on skin, the inventors warn.)

"Making a new material was a bit daunting for four designers," said Johnson. So the team took to Wikipedia to acquire knowledge about crafting conductive materials.

Teeny Weeny Electric Bikini

Putting the paint to use on bare skin—lots of bare skin—was UK electronic musician and producer Calvin Harris, who collaborated with the inventors to create a giant human synthesizer for his song "Ready for the Weekend."

For the video, bikini-clad models stood on 34 painted pads, using their hands or body (also covered with Bare Paint) to complete a circuit and trigger different sounds.

Using models, musician and producer Calvin Harris used the paint to make a giant human synthesizer.

Putting it to Use

Currently the paint is available only in black, but the inventors say it can easily be coated over with a wide range of paints. Acrylic and water-based paints can also be used alongside the material to act as insulation or create multi-layer circuitry. Additionally, the paint can be covered with a waterproof paint or varnish.

Bare Paint can be applied to a variety of materials (some may need a little surface prep), including paper, cardboard vellum, wood, metal, plaster, some rubbers, plastics, and synthetic and natural fibers.

electrically conductive paint
YouTube

Models perform as human synthesizers in the video. The electically conductive paint can be applied to fabric, metal, plastic, wood and other materials. It washes off with soap and warm water.

The paint can be applied via brush, roller, printmaking equipment, and more. As it dries, its conductivity increases and will continue to increase even after the paint feels dry. Since it's water soluble, the paint can easily be removed from most surfaces with some soap and warm water.

"Devices no longer have to look high tech to be high tech. Our goal is to put interactivity onto objects you don't expect," said Johnson.

The inventors have performed some longevity tests of their own and say the material can last years if kept dry and treated properly.

   

Tagged categories: Coating chemistry; Decorative painting; Paint application

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