Changing the World of PCB Rapid Prototyping


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Tony Tung is a recent graduate from Taiwan who has come up with a new way for PCB designers and makers to create breadboards using printed paper circuits. I caught up with Tony at the recent San Mateo Maker Faire and sat down with him to learn more about this project.

Barry Matties: Tony, tell me a little bit about who you are and where you come from.

Tony Tung: I come from Taiwan, and I’m from the National Taiwan University, where we do HCI research, human-computer interaction, and build a lot of rapid prototyping tools to help makers and designers do their work better.

Matties: Are you still in university?

Tung: I graduated last year.

Matties: You've already graduated, and now you're just helping in this research project?

Tung: Yes.

Matties: Excellent. Is this your first trip to America?

Tung: No, but it is my first time coming to the Maker Faire.

Matties: What do you think of this Maker Faire?

Tung: Compared with Taipei's Maker Faire, it's very different. It's huge, and there are a lot of impressive works here. I hope I have time to take a look around.

Matties: Let's talk specifically about the technology that you're showing here. I understand you're changing the way that rapid prototyping for circuit boards is being done. Can you tell me about that?Tony Tung 3.JPG

Tung: The first time we used a lot of soldering, the normal breadboard approach, to do our prototype. We hate that, because it takes a lot of time for us. We wanted to change this procedure, so we thought about how we could redesign a breadboard. We thought that the printed circuit was the better solution for us, so we tried to follow some research projects about printed circuits.

Matties: When you talk about printed circuits, you're not talking making a physical printed circuit board in the traditional sense, are you?

Tung: No, we’re talking about printing a paper circuit.

Tony Tung 1.JPGMatties: The idea is you print a circuit on paper to make the connections for the breadboard?

Tung: Yes, for the breadboard. Because in research they use printed circuit paper, and then they solder or stick components on it, but that still doesn't save any time for makers. We think that if you use a breadboard with printed circuit paper that it’s a better way to do that.

Matties: The takeaway here is that you've actually separated the breadboard in half, into two pieces, and I see you have a fixed circuit board inside the breadboard?

Tung: Yes, because you need to make these breadboards to be as functional as a normal breadboard.

Matties: The bus is live, one way or the other. The paper printed circuit then creates the connections in-between where the components would be on a breadboard?

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