My kids are obsessed with tattoos. They love to take washable marker and tat themselves up to look like Maui from Moana. So, taking their toddler tattoos to the next level has a certain geek-mom appeal.
Parents strive to treat their families to amazing experiences. Catapult, in partnership with Intel, is the field guide for the modern mom, offering tech-based at-home activities that will build lasting memories.
Last year, MIT labs launched DuoSkin, a project designed to help people create their own circuit board temporary tattoos. DuoSkin is not a product, it’s a process, and getting it right takes a little bit of technical know how and about $300 of start up money.
According to the DuoSkin website you will need a computer that can handle design work, an electronic craft cutter, temporary tattoo paper, and gold leaf. Also, if the instructions below are a little confusing, you can find them all in this very technical PDF.
Next, you design your circuit. The DuoSkin website recommends designing the circuit board in a standard imaging software like Microsoft Paint. The site also offers a research paper with suggested circuit board designs in case you aren’t up for designing your own.
Print the design out using a Silhouette Cameo 3 Wireless Cutting Machine. The Silhouette has the ability to cut out any design on multiple mediums. The medium you are using for this project is vinyl film paper that has been applied to temporary tattoo paper. Cut the design on only the film layer, leaving a stencil over the tattoo paper.
Once the design is cut out, use spray adhesive to apply multiple layers of gold leaf to the paper. When the gold leaf is stuck, remove the film layer and you’ll be left with your circuit in gold on the tattoo paper.
Apply the temporary tattoo with your skin and have some fun. You can have fun, creating input or output circuits. Or try lighting you and your kids skin up for the holidays with LEDs.
If this isn’t for you, but you still want nerdy temporary tattoos for the family. Consider buying La Roche-Posay’s “My UV Patch.” The patch comes with a purchase of sunscreen and connects with an app to monitor your skin’s UV exposure.
If designing a circuit is beyond your kid’s abilities (or your patience), you can also simply print a circuit board design onto temporary tattoo paper. Or, forget the circuit design and let your kids make their own designs using imaging software on your computer, print, cut them up, apply, and have tons of fun.
If you have older kids, try using prosthetic adhesive to affix glowing light panels to their skin. A video by SparkFun details how to get your glowing design just right. One note: In the video they are using a product called Elastolight, which has been discontinued. A similar product is the Vynel™ blue panel.
Circuit board tattoos are just at the beginning of their potential, and maybe it will be you and your little genius who take them to the next level. And barring that, at least you’ll have an afternoon of good nerdy fun.
Lyz Lenz is a writer and mom living in Iowa.
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