How to Use Conductive Ink for PCB Prototyping

How to Use Conductive Ink for PCB Prototyping


Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are essential components in nearly every electronic device. Traditionally, PCBs are made using complex and expensive manufacturing processes. However, conductive ink offers an accessible and affordable way to prototype custom PCBs right on your desktop.

In this guide, I will walk through everything you need to know to get started using conductive ink to build your own PCB prototypes.

What is Conductive Ink?

Conductive ink is a special ink that conducts electricity. It allows you to "print" conductive traces onto a variety of surfaces quickly and easily.

Conductive ink contains conductive particles suspended in a polymer binder and solvent. Common conductive particles include:

When the ink dries, these conductive particles are left behind, forming a conductive path.

Benefits of Using Conductive Ink

Using conductive ink for PCB prototyping offers several key benefits:

Materials Needed

To get started with conductive ink PCB prototyping, you will need:

Design and Layout

When designing your circuit for a conductive ink PCB prototype, it is important to follow some basic design rules:

PCB layout software like Eagle or KiCad work well for designing practical conductive ink circuits.

Applying Conductive Ink Traces

Once your PCB layout is designed, it's time to apply the conductive ink. Use the following best practices:

Assembling Components

With the conductive traces applied, electronic components can be soldered on to complete the circuit:

Conductive Ink PCB Prototyping Tips

Here are some additional tips to get the most out of conductive ink PCB prototyping:


With some conductive ink, basic materials, and following best design and assembly practices, you can quickly and affordably build custom PCB prototypes. Experiment with circuit concepts faster and with lower risk and cost than possible with traditional PCB fabrication. Just be sure to inspect thoroughly for shorts and opens to create robust prototypes. Have fun bringing your electronics designs to life!