Marion Koelle, Madalina Nicolae, Aditya Shekar Nittala, Marc Teyssier, Jürgen Steimle
UIST '22: Proceedings of the 35th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology
Designers and makers are increasingly interested in leveraging bio-based and bio-degradable ‘do-it-yourself’ (DIY) materials for sustainable prototyping. Their self-produced bioplastics possess compelling properties such as self-adhesion but have so far not been functionalized to create soft interactive devices, due to a lack of DIY techniques for the fabrication of functional electronic circuits and sensors. In this paper, we contribute a DIY approach for creating Interactive Bioplastics that is accessible to a wide audience, making use of easy-to-obtain bio-based raw materials and familiar tools. We present three types of conductive bioplastic materials and their formulation: sheets, pastes and foams. Our materials enable additive and subtractive fabrication of soft circuits and sensors. Furthermore, we demonstrate how these materials can substitute conventional prototyping materials, be combined with off-the-shelf electronics, and be fed into a sustainable material ‘life-cycle’ including disassembly, re-use, and re-melting of materials. A formal characterization of our conductors highlights that they are even on-par with commercially available carbon-based conductive pastes.