Next level paper circuits - tools, skills, ideas, oh my!

Hello everybody!

Week 3 saw a lot of conversations around paper circuits and how to make them look even impressive (have you checked this write up of a Take and Make paper circuit lantern yet?) and helping our patrons/guests/customers shoot for the stars - in the spirit of “low floor/high ceiling” projects.

Here are a few resources that were shared in the breakout rooms I was part of that week for your appreciation - hopefully you will have a use for them!

PaperMaker is a free, Web-based tool that takes 3D modeling files (.STL files, or .OBJ files for example) and will unfold them into papercraft models you can print on a regular printer. It works especially well with 3D models with a small amount of faces (what the cool kids call “low-poly models”.) Convenient if: your patrons are graduating from basic paper circuit shapes to paper circuit sculptures, and a great way to introduce TinkerCAD projects. If your patrons are starting to do a LOT of 3D models to paper models conversions and you need more reliable software, check Pepakura Designer!

Speaking of TinkerCAD - it is a tool many of use use for our 3D modeling beginners, sure, but did you know you can also use it to draft and test your paper circuits and electronics using the Circuits section? Convenient if: You have run out of supplies, are working with patrons who are afraid of “wasting supplies”, or want to help patrons practice electronics design at no cost other than Internet access and a computer.

Paper circuits soldering is more of a technique than a resource. Did you know you can solder directly to your paper circuits’ copper tape with a soldering iron and solder? This lets you and your patrons make stronger electronic connections, and make paper circuits projects more durable. Convenient if: your patrons need a jumping board into “regular” electronics, or “high-ceiling” examples of paper circuits combining the high-tech factor of advanced electronics components with the whimsy of paper circuits. It’s also a great lo-tech/hi-tech way to highlight the technology behind contemporary wearable devices.

Paper Signals: A voice experiment is a small project by Google that goes hand in hand with their Smart Assistant and their AIY line of smart cardboard objects. Patrons’ reactions to smart objects made of paper or cardboard like these are often much more stronger than to objects made of wood or plastic, because they are unexpected. Convenient if: You want to wow patrons with interactive projects to inspire them to start their journey into paper circuits and electronics, as well introduce them to contemporary electronics and computer programming concepts.

@Francesca and @binka - thanks for the reminder to post these!
If you can think of anything that could help anybody take their paper circuits game to the next level, please feel free to share it here!