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DIY Electronic Circuits on Glass

Have you ever paused to consider how temptingly tasty electronic circuits would look if their components and copper tracks were mounted on a glass substrate?

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Well, there I was, a happy little camper with not a care in the world and not a thought in my head. Furthermore, out of all the thoughts that weren’t in my head, the one at the top was how temptingly tasty electronic circuits would look if their components and copper tracks were mounted on a glass substrate. And then, while I was basking in the glow of thinking about nothing (now I’m thinking of the song “I’m busy doing nothing”), my chum – the nefarious James “Chewy” Vroman sent me a link to a Creating Easy Glass Circuit Boards at Home article on Instructables.com. As we see in this video, the result is really rather cool.  
Admittedly, the Silhouette Cutter recommended in the article is a tad expensive at just shy of $300, but that’s really not so bad if you were to split it with a friend or to buy it as a group, and to then amortize the cost across multiple projects. I can easily see using this to build little credit card-size circuits – perhaps business card-size circuits for extra-special potential customers one really wanted to impress. In my case, of course, I find it hard to restrain myself to “little” projects. In fact, the word “little” (like so many other words) isn’t in my vocabulary. I’m imagining a large 4’ x 3’ (or even a 5’ x 4’) picture-size piece, festooned with surface-mount logic chips and replete with tri-color LEDs, fabulously framed and magnificently mounted on the wall of my office. How about you? Could you be tempted to dabble in electronic circuits realized on sheets of glass?

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David Ashton

“I’m imagining a large 4’ x 3’ (or even a 5’ x 4’) picture-size piece, festooned with surface-mount logic chips and replete with tri-color LEDs, fabulously framed and magnificently mounted on the wall of my office.”

If they’re transparent, what’s the use of mounting them on the wall? Have a bunch of them suspended in mid air on a mobile, all flashing different colour LEDs. Be nicer if you could make them double sided, but that shouldn’t be beyond the bounds of possibility.

Just BTW Max, your spell check here flags Color but is happy with Colour. I’m pleased to see this nod to old Blighty 😀

John Weiss

Her results are beautiful! I think could work on any substrate that the copper-tape sticks to. I wonder how robust those traces would be over time.

You didn’t mention this video is in French! Are you sure this method will work in English?

Here’s a Hackaday about the same method.
https://hackaday.com/2019/12/01/creating-easy-glass-circuit-boards-at-home/

There are some other methods:

PCB foil with UV-curing glue + traditional etching. Author wonders “Could you use gold leaf instead of copper?”
https://makezine.com/2011/09/13/how-to-clear-glass-circuit-boards/
https://hackaday.com/2016/07/18/cnlohrs-glass-pcb-fabrication-process/
https://www.hackster.io/news/here-s-how-to-etch-a-pcb-right-onto-glass-84aff70148de

Patented method: “A conductive paste, printed on the surface of the glass-tempered substrate, is baked, heated, and cooled to form a conductive circuit”
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2019/0327839.html

If you’re trying to think of nothing, please don’t keep this in mind:
“Pondering nothing could be considered, at best, a form of meditation, and, at worst, a total waste of time.”
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/vbk5va/what-is-nothing

Rick Curl

Interesting that you mention the possibility of using these as business cards. It just so happens that I am about to order some “extra thin” PCB’s to be used as business cards to advertise my new consulting business. You can get Chinese-made PCB’s any thickness you want, down to .4mm. There’s a premium for getting them that thin, but .6mm is cheap, so that’s what I’ll be doing. On the back of the PCB (business card) I’ll have different size SMD component footprints and a little ruler.
While a glass substrate business card would be very attention-getting, I don’t think I would want to put one in my pocket!

Rick Curl

Should be here in about a week. If you’re lucky, I may decide to send you one of these extremely rare collectible artifacts.

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